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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 05:19 am

Have yourself a ball

It takes cojones to attend one of these festivals

Untitled Document “Most folks just don’t seem to have a taste for testicles no more,” said the waitress who served Chevy Chase’s character the two-year-record-breaking 29th helping of lamb fries in the 1988 film Funny Farm.
Though it may be true in many parts of the country that people have lost their appetite for animelles, here in Illinois we love our testicles as much as ever, if not more. The Land of Lincoln, known for the quality of our state’s boar testes, is home to three notable testicle festivals. Even our state’s professional ballplayers seem to just eat them up. Held the day before Father’s Day each year, the Sportsman’s Club Testicle Festival (217-773-9096, www.testicle-festival.com) takes places this year on June 14 in Mount Sterling, approximately 65 miles west of Springfield. In 1995, livestock farmers in the area first started throwing small parties at the bar, at which testicles were the main attraction. Despite some resistance, the festival soon grew into an all-day block party with live bands and more testicles than you could shake a stick at. Kevin Huston, the Sportsman’s Club’s proprietor, says this year chefs will cook up the old favorites of bull, lamb, pork, and turkey, as well as buffalo, new this year (so eat a small breakfast).
Later in the year, the city of Byron, near Rockford, goes nuts hosting its Turkey Testicle Festival (www.turkey-testicle-festival.com), which has been held every October for 30 years. Closer to Chicago, patrons of the Parkside Pub in Huntley gobble up that village’s Turkey Testicle Festival, which takes place around Thanksgiving. The edible offal is also known as Rocky Mountain or prairie oysters — a favorite of ex-Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordóñez — swinging sirloin, and Montana tendergroin. It remains most popular in the mountain West, in areas such as Montana, Colorado, Idaho, and parts of Canada where cattle ranching is prevalent. These states hold a number of large, sometimes raucous testicle celebrations each year. Although human beings have eaten everything — and just about every part of it — that grows or walks for millennia, people during the Roman era believed that eating an animal’s organ could heal ailments in the corresponding organ of the individual eating it. This included sexual dysfunction, which is why testicles are considered an aphrodisiac in Asia and many other parts of the world today. In the U.S., when cowboys in the old West castrated calves, the testes would be collected, washed, peeled, floured, seasoned, and fried in oil, giving the dish its more common, and polite, nickname. If you can’t wait for one of the summer’s festivals to get your mouth around some testicles, Humphrey’s (1821 S. 15th St., 217-544-7445) sells a variety of frozen testicles, ranging in price from $1.99 per pound for pork to $7.98 per pound for veal and lamb.
Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
Think you can handle frying your own testicles? If not, grow a pair and try one of these recipes.
Turkey Fries 
2 pounds turkey testicles, skinned

1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup oil, preferably canola or corn
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup medium-grind cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Oil, preferably peanut, for deep-frying

Thaw the testicles, if necessary, and cut them into medallions. Put them in a bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients, pour the marinade over the testicles, and marinate the testicles for four hours in the refrigerator. Mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Roll each testicle in the mixture, dip it back in the marinade, and then roll it again in the flour. Heat at least 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Place the testicles in the oil and cook until the testicles are golden brown and tender. Don’t overcook them, or the testicles will be tough. Serve immediately.

Beef Fries (whatscookingamerica.net)
2 pounds veal testicles 2 cups beer Two eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
With a very sharp knife, split the tough skinlike muscle that surrounds each testicle. Remove the skin (you can remove the skin easily if the testicles are frozen, then peel while thawing). Slice each testicle into approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick ovals. Place slices in a large pan or bowl with enough beer to cover them; cover and let sit two hours. In a shallow bowl, combine eggs, flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Remove testicles from beer; drain and dredge thoroughly in the flour mixture. In a large, deep pot, heat oil to 375 degrees. Deep-fry three minutes or until golden brown (will rise to the surface when done). Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately; testicles are best when served hot.
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