You ate what!?! Getting a taste of Virginia City at the Mountain Oyster Fry
You should try anything at least once, I thought, tilting my head back to indulge in garlic mushroom sauce served atop sheep testicles, more affectionately known as mountain oysters. Surprised that they went down so easily, I assured myself that gonads must be a delicacy somewhere.
People came out in droves to sample the slimy morsels as the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce hosted its 12th annual Mountain Oyster Fry – or Nevada’s version of “Fear Factor” – on April 5.
The “Rocky Mountain oyster,” traditionally a euphemism for bull testicles, is also applied to turkey and sheep, which are comparable in flavor (or so I’ve heard) and often used in festivals such as these.
Most of the attendees seemed well versed in the mountain oyster phenomena, many wearing T-shirts from festivals past.
“This is our third year,” Reno-resident Shauna Reese said proudly, offering me one of her crab-cake style reproductive organs from the Moonlight Bunny Ranch’s booth.
Fourteen teams came from all over Nevada to show off their special way of cooking sheep privates – all vying for the coveted Gene Edwards Memorial Trophy.
Each team had their own unique recipe, some serving the testicles fried, others in tacos. When the chefs at the Slippery Gulch table were asked what their recipe was, they pointed to a question mark taped on their tablecloth.
Teams don’t just get creative with their recipes. Competitors dream up names like “Screaming Scrotum Ranch,” “The Cajone Cops” and “McCastrates,” complete with golden arches and a Budweiser-toting Ronald McDonald look-alike.
Brandi Lee, the event’s organizer, said teams are already signing up for the 2004 Mountain Oyster Fry.
This year’s victor and reigning champion, Chef Odie Reed and family, proudly displayed their championship trophy, ornate with a metallic lamb, on their tasting table. While Chef Odie prepared his skewered bacon-wrapped oysters, hundreds lined up to try the two-year reigning champion’s creation, dipped in cognac truffle sauce, Jack Daniels barbecue or spicy teriyaki.
I had to ask Odie the secret to his success.
“It’s an Internet recipe, and then I improvised,” he said. “But the secret’s really in the sauce.”
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Olympic House was empty but for some maintenance workers and all those ghosts.