'Private' dining in the Denver airport
June 21st, 2011
08:45 AM ET
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In honor of the Broncos' berth in Super Bowl XLVIII, we're sharing this classic post about a Colorado specialty.

The server cupped his hand to the side of his mouth and whispered, "Those, um, are oysters from the mountains, you know."

I nodded, slightly gravely, and thanked him for his thoughtful euphemism. I know full well what Rocky Mountain oysters are, and seeing as I was encountering them on a menu in Terminal C of the Denver International Airport, they seemed a somewhat safer bet than their maritime counterparts.

So I went ahead and ordered the deep-fried bull balls.

Rocky Mountain oysters, bull fries, swinging beef, prairie oysters, criadillas, tendergroins - they're all just cutesy names for animal testicles and before you go writing them off as unspeakably icky, consider this: unlike when you're chowing down on a mass-produced hamburger patty or hot dog, at least you know exactly what part of the animal you're eating.

I took a few slugs of my Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (it seemed semantically correct, and really - no one's ever thought to counsel me on what wine pairs well with animal junk) and re-read the menu description as I waited for my meal to arrive.

"This 'private' selection of bull fries are served crispy and accompanied by cocktail sauce."

Heh. Heheheheh, Heh. "Private." I swear I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy sometimes, but the person who wrote that menu knows I'm hardly alone in that. I'm also not the only flyer with a penchant for savoring local delicacies. When I'd asked my server, Alan, if most people "got it," he'd told me that mine was perhaps his third or fourth order of the day.

I clarified, did most people get that he was trying, in as PG a fashion as possible, to make sure they were entirely clear that they were about to consume castration cast-offs? He thought for a second, then grimaced. No, they didn't. And he found that most with his Asian customers who'd seemed grateful to find something that appeared to be seafood on a meat and dairy-centric menu. Euphemisms only translate so far and inevitably, once in a while, there's a diner left poking at the spongy center of the golden-breaded disc on their plate and wondering what in the name of all that is holy has gone amiss with the local marine life.

Bull fries are hardly isolated to this single restaurant in the Denver airport. While they're not exactly popping up on every last menu across the West, devotees of the deep-fried danglers converge at gatherings like Montana's Testy Festy and the Oakdale, California Cowboy Museum's annual Testicle Festival to indulge in this idiosyncratic dish. Though I can't claim to be a connoisseur, this was not my virgin venture, either. Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta, Georgia, renowned for its soul-satisfying cheeseburger, serves a lightly crisped and tremendously creamy rendition that I've been known to snack on in the wee, small hours.

When I'm in Cincinnati, I feast upon chili-slathered spaghetti. In Vermont, I'm mainlining grade-A dark syrup. In Colorado, it's bull bobs down the hatch.

My dinner arrived - a half-dozen breaded, flat-pounded and fried discs atop a dainty salad of spring greens and a plastic ramekin of horseradish-heavy cocktail sauce. The flimsy plastic knife I'd been issued bowed against the springy center of the first one, so I grasped it daintily between my thumb and forefinger and took a cautious nibble.

For all the giggles, jokes, blushes and caution, they could have been deep-fried and delicious, well, anything. I'm not exactly sure what I'd been expecting - a spongy, funky sphere that would induce sympathetic cringes from nearby male diners, perhaps. But had I been told I was nibbling on veal, alligator, or some especially sturdy seitan, I wouldn't have cocked an eyebrow. They were tasty testes, to be sure, but a bit of a culinary letdown in the end.

Really, though - wouldn't I have been nuts not to try?

Previously - How to cook testicles and Go on – have a ball. It's for a good cause and Chef Brian Malarky's top 5 most inspiring foods

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Filed under: Airports • Colorado • Ingredients • Meat • Offal • Super Bowl • Taboos • Tailgating • Travel

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soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Ally

    I learned about rocky mountain oysters while in college. One of my housemates was getting her masters for large animal veternary care. I came home to tin foil covering the sink. Upon asking, I found out it was her job to prepare the oysters for a big class pot luck.

    In case anyone is curious...they don't look like the pic above when they're raw and floating in salt water in the sink!! :-)

    January 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Dr. Dre, The Chronic ♫♫

    I wanna ask you one question
    If I had some nuts, hangin on the walls, what did I have?"
    I said, "Darling you'd have some walnuts."
    She said, "Well.. daddy if I had some nuts
    on my chest, would those be chestnuts?"
    I said, "Hell yes!"
    She said, "Well daddy if I had nuts under my chin
    would those be chin-nuts?"
    I said, "Hell no B**** you'd have a d**k in your mouth!"

    January 28, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  3. Pai You Guo Tea

    Do not run too fast after gain Pai You Guo Tea http://karierosfera.pl/wp-content/themes/twentyeleven/slim/

    June 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  4. Thomas

    I can understand women eating them, but any man who would has serious issues, and wouldn't be a friend of mine.

    March 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  5. roseternal

    Eeeeeewwww. Eeeeeewwww. Eeeww!!! No thank you!

    January 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  6. Dane

    I just have to say... Rocky mountain oysters are great... if properly cooked; unfortunately to many places overcook the bullnuts.

    You need to cook them just right so they're nice n tender n juicy yet. :-) I actually have done Rocky Mountain Oysters slathered in Chili & cheese... tasty but not required.
    (I do live in the Denver area, but didn't grow up here; its definitely a "Western" thing)

    June 22, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  7. farmboy

    I raize them wood never eat them

    June 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  8. carol

    here in OKC the delicacy is lamb fries... served plentifully and with great gusto at the local Cattlemen's Steak House.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Darkwolf

      In these parts, "Hog Fries" are the norm. Delicious, cheap, and folks from all over the County flock to the Restaurants that serve 'em every Spring. (They are a bother to make at home.) Definitely near the top of my "strange foods that disgust most people" list. But, if you like Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, you'll LOVE these...

      June 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  9. non_grata

    Sorry to tell you this but they are not pounded flat.

    June 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Not in all preparations, but in some, they are indeed.

      June 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  10. General McAuliffe


    June 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  11. The painful truth

    Because you're a simpleton Jerv.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Truth@the pitiful truth

      Please do not use my name or any derivative thereof. And kindly report to the STFU cafe until you are given permission to leave by an adult.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • An Inconvenient Troll

      @The Painful Truth -> Stop foraging under my bridge. This is MY BRIDGE! MY BRIDGE! You're giving us adult trolls here a bad name. Take your lameness to CNN's "Belief" page...I hear they like flamers.

      June 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  12. El Toro

    Ah nuts!

    June 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Breaking News!

    The Denver airport is now being picketed by Vegan protestors who appear to be waving signs which and chanting, "Don't beat the meat!".

    And now back to your regularly scheduled Eatocracy...

    June 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Truth


      June 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jerv

      Breaking News! has me rolling!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  14. Don

    I prepared Rocky Mountain Oysters in a food service course I took in college. We battered and deep fried the slices and served them with marinara I believe. They were delicious and reminded me of a battered and fried white hot dog a little (if you know what a white hot dog is).

    June 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • An Inconvenient Troll
      June 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  15. hochewa

    Mountain oysters go great with turkey fries. I can handle deep fried chitterlings but that is where I draw the line. Somewhwere in West Virginia, of course, the have a Nut 'n Gut Festival. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  16. T3chsupport

    Those and rattle snake have been on my culinary bucket list forever. Ironically, I grew up in a place where both were plentiful, but never got around to eating them.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  17. Chicago Lady

    The picture makes them look really tasty. Maybe I would try a dozen.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  18. Jugger

    Eatocracy gives me my morning dose of humor. Thanks Kat, and yes mountain oysters tend to make men like me cringe, but they are delicious. I chuckled more at the "served with cocktail sauce" than I did at the "Private" part.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  19. Ellen D

    Rocky Mountain Oysters are in the same category as whale sushi: if someone's mama has cooked these for me, I'm ABSOLUTELY going to eat them with enthusiasm and appreciation. But if I'm in a restaurant, meh.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Protesting Crowd

      Nuke the whales!
      Nuke the whales!

      June 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
      • Moby Dick

        Rub my belly,peons!

        June 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
      • Zombie Boy

        Stir the pot! Stir the pot! But I still like turtles...

        June 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  20. Jerv

    Why am I laughing my azz off over this post?

    June 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  21. Truth

    Just out of curiousity, who wrote this article?
    Kat, if you were in Denver and didn't let me take you to lunch, I will be forced to boycott Eatocracy for a week...!

    June 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Holy crap! How did I miss making that connection? I'm so sorry - I was so frenzied trying to get to and from Aspen, I totally forgot you lived there. Grrrr! Next time, I would LOVE to.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
      • Truth@Kat

        Did you stay at the Jerome in Aspen? Pricy place, but WELL worth it especially if on an expense account.
        I think you and SLT should obtain a map of the US and use push pins to flag all of the regulars, whit way the next time you are in WCF, Denver, Katy (near Houston, which is too close to New Orleans), DC, Indianapolis or any of our other hometowns, we can show you the local hotspots. Kind of like a Guy Fieri show without the annoying personality...:)

        June 21, 2011 at 9:37 am |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Jerome gets booked waaaaayyyyy early, but the Sky was nice.

        We need, like, NORAD, but for Klatschers.

        June 21, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • JBJingles@Kat & Truth

      Kat – Sooo jealous that you are in Aspen! I was there many moons ago and loved that town, although I was there during a huge snow storm, highs of -19 (yes that is a minus!).

      Truth – LOVE the Jerome!! Every year I look to see if I can go for a week/long weekend with the hubs, but so far have not been able to make it work. I also stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver once on a biz trip, very nice. (note to self to make it back to Denver with the hubs).

      June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
      • Truth@JBJ

        The Brown Palace is about three blocks from my office. I will be personally offended if you and Hubs do not let me take you to lunch if you are in town in the future...

        June 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
      • JBJingles@Truth

        It's a date, although I don't have a date yet... LOL

        June 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  22. RichardHead

    I couldn't vote as the Poll is too Testicle for me to understand.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  23. Truth

    Cum to Denver and have yourself a ball. You'd be nuts not to. Especially if you are feeling a little testy.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  24. AleeD

    Other: I wouldn't mind trying them given the chance.

    The repeated dbl entendres had me LMAO. Thanks for the morning chuckles!

    June 21, 2011 at 9:08 am |
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