Mountain Oysters

It’s about this time of year that a club in Tucson, Arizona holds a western art show and sale called the “Mountain Oyster Art Show”. As the divide between urban and rural life becomes ever wider, the origin of that term becomes increasingly obscure. It turns out that the Mountain Oyster Club was formed by a group of Tucson area ranchers in 1948. The squeamish folk in the town couldn’t bring themselves to even say or print the name. Over time those Victorian ways have faded some. Mountain oysters are, of course, bull testicles. They are produced in abundance during roundups as bull calves are castrated to make steers for beef production. When I was a boy, we just strung them onto bailing wire and fried them in the branding fire till they popped open. Then we ate the crispy treats as a snack. They really do taste like oysters!

  Now we do things a little more civilized. The tough outer coating of the testicle is hard to chew so we split that with a sharp knife, pop out the inner pink meat, and scrape it out. This “oyster” is split into strips which are rolled in cornmeal with salt-and-pepper and pitched into hot oil at about 350°. When golden fried, take them out, drain on paper towels, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle – chow-down! Goes great with beer and sourdough bread, maybe a salad. There’s even a place near the feedlot areas of Greeley, Colorado, named Severance, that has built its entire reputation on serving mountain oysters and beer. It’s called Bruce’s Goose!

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