I’m not going to lie, I thought of many alternate titles for this post. The runner up was Never Mind the B*llocks. Please be warned now there will be a fair bit of innuendo before this post is done. On my recent weekend in Copenhagen I had the chance to try that rarest of delicacy, the Prairie oyster, otherwise known as deep fried bull’s balls. I am not necessarily the most adventurous of eaters. I have under extreme duress tried eating a bird brain once, using the beak and skull as a spoon, but that was definitely a bad decision. It resembled nothing so strongly as having a really bad cold.
To put the deep fried testicles decision in context, I first have to explain the unusual set of circumstances building up to this. It was sunny. In Denmark. I mean really sunny. 25C and not a cloud in the sky. The kind of day when the world is your bar, at least in any Northern European city. In Copenhagen, every park and canal was lined with people enjoying beers and glasses of wine in reckless disregard for the unappealing combination that is a hangover and sunburn. We had joined in the festive spirit, and spent the hour before dinner enjoying white wine from plastic cups in the sunshine. When we got to the restaurant, BROR, we were perhaps ever so slightly tipsy. Bror has recently been opened by two graduates from the school of Noma, and features a similar style of New Nordic Cuisine. Where bull’s balls come into this, I do not know, but there they were, nestled on the menu below catfish cheeks and radishes with hazelnut cream. As soon as he laid eyes on this, my companion got the glimmer in his eye that says ‘I know a challenge when I see one’, and soon he was ordering away as I giggled like the convent schoolgirl I once was behind my menu.
When they arrived, they were laid out on a vintage plate, surprisingly flat and strangely small. They were adorned only with a light coating of breadcrumbs and sea salt, and looked for all the world like a miniature wiener schnitzel. I selflessly allowed my companion to dig in while closely monitoring his facial expressions for any indication of pain or disgust. When he had managed to swallow the first bite with relatively little discomfort, I felt it my duty to give them a shot. I sliced a piece from the edge for maximum breadcrumb to testicle ratio.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting in hindsight. They were very very soft, with a texture something like sweetbreads, and a light grey colour. I think I expected something more chewy, like a piece of gristle. For data collection purposes, I took a second mouthful, and realised they tasted like fish. This could be a link between breadcrumbs and fish buried deep in my subconscious. It could also be that they use the same deep fryer for their octopus dish. Or it could just be that they taste like fish. Whatever it was, once you had realised it, that was all you could taste.
When our waitress reappeared, I asked approximately how many smutty jokes she heard per day. With a slightly weary look, she said more than you can imagine, and reeled off a ‘best of’ selection from the kitchen. Behind us, I could hear the next table ordering the same.
I am sure there is some kind of inside story as to how these have come to appear on the menu. Maybe someone lost a bet. Maybe they realised it would be a good gimmick for a new restaurant. Maybe they just wanted to prove once and for all that deep frying makes everything better. I would not be rushing to order deep fried balls if I ever saw them on a menu again. But for now, the bird brain continues to occupy the space in memory reserved for ‘Most disgusting thing I have ever eaten’.
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