In the late 19th century, Basque immigrants answered the siren call of the American mining boom and settled in the Wild West. Soon after, they learned that capitalizing on the gold rush was more difficult than expected. Instead, the newcomers found a more stable and lucrative career in herding sheep. These ranchers were known to sometimes use their teeth when it came time to castrate rams. Deciding to actually eat their livestock’s testicles? Not much of a leap from there.
Eating cooked testicles, colloquially called “lamb fries,” is a tradition that survives in rural Nevada, the Intermountain West, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kentucky. Using every part of an animal was once an act of necessity and resourcefulness by early settlers. Now, it’s a novelty that celebrates the history that helped define these regions. To this day, residents across the West and Midwest still have a ball at local festivals centered around testicle-based cuisine.
Most often cut into thin strips, breaded, and fried, lamb fries are unrecognizable in their ready-to-eat form. One first-timer taster noted that he “could not discern any unique testicular flavor,” adding, “had our waitress told me they were catfish, I would have believed her.” So when you see “lamb fries” on a menu, don’t be intimidated. Be ballsy, and give them a try.
Where to Try It
An Italian restaurant that specializes in lamb fries and features a separate brewery and beer room.
Cattlemen's Steakhouse1309 S Agnew Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73108-2427, United States
A old-school steakhouse known for its breaded lamb fries served with lemon and tomato sauce.