Hard as it may be to believe in looking at me now — I look like the sort of guy who scans a menu and tells the waiter, “OK” — I was a picky eater for pretty much my entire childhood.
For the first 18 years of my life, my basic diet consisted of Ramen noodles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mashed potatoes. Getting my to try knew foods became such an adventure that my poor mother — who had to worry about feeding six other people in our family — simply gave up instead of trying to fight with me.
My mom always gave us two choices for dinner every night: Take it or leave it. Frequently, I went ahead and left it. Not that I starved, mind you — but I did learn how to microwave hot dogs and Spaghetti-Os at a relatively young age.
Even eating fast food tended to be an adventure with me growing up. Because I refused to eat any condiments on my cheeseburgers, my mother always had to make sure she ordered my burgers plain, with no ketchup, mustard, mayo or pickles. That sounds like a relative non-issue these days, but for some reason in the nascent days of the fast food industry when I was a kid, this usually meant an extra 30 minute wait at the drive thru.
It wasn’t until I moved off to college — when not eating whatever they were serving in the school cafeteria meant actually spending my own money on something else to eat — that I learned to try new foods and eat what I was served. Because I had other, more important things on which to spend my money — like, you know, extra school supplies and tutoring sessions (certainly not beer) — I ate every single thing they served in the school cafeteria.
And you know what? I loved every single bite.
I spent those five years in college regretting all the delicious foods I had missed out on as a kid because I was close-minded and stubborn. I had literally gone 18 years of my life without ever eating something as simple — or as tasty — as fettuccine alfredo, because it didn’t look like the more-familiar spaghetti.
Yes, it really was that bad.
And so I made a vow way back then never to turn up my nose at new foods without at least trying them first. Certainly that’s backfired on me to some degree — there aren’t a whole lot of foods I’ve found that I don’t like, which has caused me to become, in medical terms, “really fat” — but it’s certainly been a delicious journey.
These days, I’ll eat just about anything.
Which is how, last weekend, I found myself sitting in front of a paper plate filled with deep-fried bull testicles.
Some time ago, my friend’s father-in-law suggested his son-in-law and I attend the Versailles Tractor Club’s annual event, which features a bull’s private parts as the main item on the menu. While my friend seemed a little leery of the event, to me it sounded like a great time would be had by all — except for the bulls, I guess.
So last weekend we showed up the event, unsure of what exactly to expect. It turns out that before the actual dining begins at such an event, there’s a decent amount of beer consumed. I’m not sure this actually enhances the flavor of the main course, but I’ve always kind of had the feeling this is how many social events in Versailles begin, regardless of the food being served.
While Randy was a little tentative about consuming the bull’s unmentionable parts, I dove right in. The way I had it figured, the opportunity to eat bull testicles doesn’t come up very often, so there was no sense being shy about it.
And you know what? They were absolutely delicious. I ended up eating four plates of them. I did some later research and found out that not only are they scrumptious, but they are high and protein and zinc, while relatively low in fat and calories … so not only are they good, but they are good for you.
In the days since the event, I’ve had numerous people ask me what they taste like. I don’t know that I can compare them to anything else I’ve ever eaten — they have a unique taste all their own. Which is why I would encourage anyone who is curious to try them.
You’ll be glad you did … even if the bull isn’t.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at dfong@civitasmedia; follow him on Twitter @thefong