Photos by Fran Shelton of Beaverton, Oregon taken at the
Barney Prines Steakhouse & Saloon Restaurant in Prineville, Oregon.
Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies can be eaten. It just takes an open mind and a willing
stomach. Of course, there are some people who will eat anything. Rocky
Mountains oysters - also known as prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins,
cowboy caviar, swinging beef, and calf fires - are true Western delicacies.
What are Rocky Mountain oysters?
They are that part of the bull that is removed in his youth so that he
may thereby be more tractable, grow meatier, and behave less masculine. When
the calves are branded, the testicles are cut off and thrown in a bucket of
water. They are then peeled, washed, rolled in flour and pepper, and fried
in a pan. They are considered to be quite a delicacy. Like other organ
meats, testicles may be cooked in a variety of ways – deep-fried whole, cut
into broad, thin slices, or marinated. At roundups in the old West, cowboys
and ranch hands tossed the meat on a hot iron stove. When the calf fries
exploded, they were done?
Eating animal genitalia dates back to ancient Roman times, when it was believed that eating a healthy
animal’s organ might correct some ailment in the corresponding human organ
of the male person eating it. Because of this belief, the practice continues
to the present day, especially in Asia, where animal genitalia are
considered an aphrodisiac.
The rugged folks of the Rocky
Mountain region are not squeamish. Testicle festivals are held every spring
and fall in Montana. These festivals can be very rowdy and may not be the
best place to bring your children. If you can’t get to a festival, many
restaurants and bars in Montana, Idaho, and Kansas serve Rocky Mountain
oysters all year long and with less fanfare.