The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Northern flavor for a southern palate

 

Even just three months in, 2016 has been a year of new experiences for this South Texan.

When I made the move to Nebraska, I made a decision that I would throw myself into any experiences that came with it. I didn't move here to remain set in sedentary ways. I want to drive the roads and see the sights. I want to meet the people and hear their stories.

I want to experience the midwest and all it offers. That, of course, includes the cuisine.

Last night, I covered the Peetz FFA annual oyster fry, a fundraiser where the main course for the meal is a helping of the Colorado favorite, Rocky Mountain Oysters.

While I am sure everyone reading this column is familiar with this unique delicacy, please humor me while I give a quick description to form the proper word picture:

Rocky Mountain Oysters are bull testicles that have been peeled, split, breaded and deep fried.

Now, as a Texan and a Hispanic, I have eaten many parts of the cow, from the head to the tail to most of what's in-between, but there was one area where I had never tread.

Then last week, I learned that an oyster fry was going to be held in Peetz, Colorado, and my publisher wanted me to attend. My first thought was, "Why are they eating oysters when they are so far away from an ocean?"

Looking at the pass I was given, which featured a cartoon drawing of a very confused-looking bull, I started to put two and two together.

My initial reaction was there would be absolutely no way I would be eating bull testicles. Sure, anything can be food, but that doesn't mean everything should be food.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was exactly the kind of experience I told myself I would try while in this area. By the end of the week, my mind was made up.

I put the pass underneath the computer monitor on my desk at the office as a constant reminder and to psych myself into not backing out. That poor cartoon bull and I were becoming fast friends, his look of utter disbelief echoing my own at times.

On Thursday morning, the day of the oyster fry, I spoke with some of my coworkers who were also planning on attending the event. Opinions on the main course ran the full gamut, from enjoyment to distaste. But everyone had at least tried them.

That afternoon, I got into my truck and headed to Colorado, which is still a weird thing for me to write or say aloud. When I drove up to Nebraska, it took me nearly 12 hours just to leave Texas, so driving to Colorado in 20 minutes is just absurd to me.

Arriving at Peetz High School, I proceeded to do my job first, taking pictures and talking with people involved in the fundraiser. Eventually, I made my way to the kitchen area where the Rocky Mountain Oysters were breaded and fried.

It is said that a person who enjoys sausage should never see how it is made, but my job doesn't allow for such ignorance. Thankfully, the oysters on the menu that evening were already flayed, so they did not look like what they actually were.

Once I finished my work, I entered one of the already-filled lines and prepared myself for dinner.

Ahead of me was a small child, maybe 7 or 8 years old. He was very excited for the meal and proudly held his plate out to the server. If I had any misgivings about what I was about to do, that kid wiped them from my mind and held out my plate in the same manner.

Unfortunately, I think I held my plate out too long as the server, after placing a pair of oysters on my plate, then added an extra helping. I quickly pulled my plate back after that, but was too embarrassed to ask him to take back that third oyster.

I went down the line and added the fixings: some beans, salads side and pasta, onion rings and a roll. I asked one of the FFA members what kind of sauce I should get with my oysters. She recommended the cocktail sauce, which was available in both "mild" and "Don't kiss your mama!" I went with "mild."

Sitting down at a chair close to a garbage can, just in case, I tentatively dove into my meal. With a helping of cocktail cause, I took a bite of the oyster and chewed. And chewed. And chewed.

My first impression was while it didn't taste bad, it wasn't good either. I finished off my first oyster and started on my second, which was slathered with cocktail sauce.

On the first bite of the second oyster, I found myself tearing up a little. Something was off, but it wasn't the oyster. It was the sauce. Although it was marked as "mild," it was just too much for my delicate tongue.

After shuddering briefly as I thought about how hot "Don't kiss you mama!" must be in comparison, I toughed it out through that second oyster, and decided to leave the final one ungarnished.

While bland, I discovered that I was okay with the taste. Granted, it was far from my favorite taste, but with the right flavoring I could definitely stomach it. Once the last of the Rocky Mountain Oysters was downed, I cleaned the rest of my plate.

If anything, I can count Thursday night as an experience, and I'm glad that I stuck to my guns and ate not just one bite, but three full oysters. I doubt that I will go out of my way to eat them again any time soon, but I won't be scared or repulsed if they are ever offered to me.

Although next time, I'll opt for the barbecue sauce.

 

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