Yes, you read that right. I spent Saturday night at DC's 4th Annual Testicle Festival.
A friend sent me the listing for this about a month ago. I'm pretty sure he meant it as a joke, but how on earth does a person not go to the Testicle Festival?! The name alone is priceless! Plus, I had just read Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour, in which he raves about the deliciousness of roasted lamb testicles. That made me both curious and brave to try these so-called "rocky mountain oysters," of which I could indulge in unlimited quantities at the Festival. Also, $15 for unlimited beers and bourbon seemed like a good deal. And finally, the tag line of the event is "The Original Sack Lunch." Clearly, I had to go.
The event was held at the American Legion in Arlington, not far from the Boyfriend's house. I managed to drag him along as my date, even though we were both tired and perfectly content watching the Nats game. He had to work all day Sunday and was really reluctant -- for some reason the offer of unlimited, deep fried testes wasn't appealing to him, but I promised to pay his way and to leave in an hour, which convinced him to accompany me.
When we arrived at the Legion, the parking lot was full, as was most of the street parking in the adjoining neighborhood. Once we paid our entrance fee, we entered into a large room packed with about 200 people in their early 20s, animatedly drinking beers and dancing to the live country band. The delicious smell of deep fried grease permeated the room; it smelled the way I might expect a bash at KFC or Wings 'N' Things to smell. The Festival was sponsored by the Montana State Society, a fact reflected in the very height of the attendees. The average height of these corn fed, Big Sky dwellers was about 5'10", a fact not lost on shorties like me and the Boyfriend. The gents were clad in a lot of plaid and denim, with the occasional cowboy hat. The women were all stunning and dressed in their best club-gear.
The Boyfriend and I made our way to the bar, which was just a couple people opening Miller Lite, Bud Lite and Coors Lite cans as quickly as possible for distribution, and one girl being run ragged pouring bourbon for the thirsty crowd. There was no line to speak of, just a crowd reaching out for drinks. Our thirsts properly quenched, we headed to the buffet. By buffet, I mean a table with a plastic bucket of cheesy poufs, two giant bowls of pretzels, and an empty tray with deep fried crumbs that had held the main attraction. Freshly fried batches of testicles emerged from the kitchen every ten minutes or so, only to be wolfed down by hungry Festival attendees. We waited for a fresh batch.
Hot and fresh from the fryer, a new batch of testicles arrived. The Boyfriend refused to partake, but my moment of reckoning had arrived. I grabbed an "oyster," dipped it in BBQ sauce, and went for it. How was it? I will defer to the photo essay as taken by the Boyfriend:
There were four distinct phases to eating this delicacy, as captured in those photos. 1. Apprehension: "I am about to eat a cow testicle." 2. Enjoyment: "Hey, this tastes like a deep fried chicken nugget! This isn't bad!" 3. Realization: "It's kind of chewy...because dear God, I'm eating a cow testicle!" 4. Self-loathing: "I can't believe I just ate that." The biggest problem being that the consistency is chewy enough that you have time to realize what you're eating. Otherwise it would just taste deep fried, and deep fried is a flavor I generally enjoy.
My mission unfortunately complete, we spent the rest of the evening enjoying the party. The music, the Wil Gravatt Band, was really good and a lot of fun. A local DC honky tonk band, they kept the crowd dancing and the mood just right. The crowd consisted mostly of Hill staffers, although not entirely -- I ran into seven people I knew during the hour and half we stayed, none of them staffers.
As midnight drew near, the Boyfriend and I decided to leave the testicle and bourbon-fueled revelry because he had a very long day at work the next day. I will say, I am glad we went. The experience was well worth my $15.
Side Note: Hurry back, Eastern Market. You will be dearly missed until your return.