Back in my strict vegetarian days, if someone would have told me I’d visit a turkey testicle festival and sample a cup of steaming hot turkey nether parts, I would have never believed them. But eating a few of these dainty morsels is just what I did.
The day before Thanksgiving, thousands of visitors flock to Parkside Pub in the small town of Huntley, Illinois for an event that’s a 29-year old tradition. The Turkey Testicle Festival attracts over four thousand visitors per year. More than 200 employees and volunteers work in the bar and heated tents where they placate the masses with food, beer, wine, souvenirs, and live entertainment.
Last fall I visited the festival with a friend of mine and I managed to coerce my way into the kitchen for a firsthand look at how turkey testicles become appetizers. The buckets of thawed rubbery turkey testicles were soaked in water before the cooks rolled them in flour, sprinkled on mystery seasonings, and tossed them into the fryer. The testicles cooked for about 15 minutes before they were served up piping hot. Condiments such as Tabasco sauce or ranch dressing were offered.
I stood looking at my cup of golden nuggets, feeling a little squeamish as I fought off thoughts about vomiting on the floor. Battling my always present, inner vegetarian, I popped the first turkey testicle into my mouth. It tasted like a chewy breaded mushroom. After that first one though, things began to get a little funky tasting and my stomach started to churn. I could not bring myself to eat more than three.
Though I would not eat them again, they weren’t as bad as the steamed chicken testicles I accidentally ate in Taiwan, which I’ll write about at a later date. While I don’t have any recipes to list, turkey and turkey testicles (probably not the deep-fried version, of course) are said to be loaded with protein, contain trace minerals such as selenium, which helps with thyroid and immune system function and assists with eliminating cancer-friendly free radicals in the body, and are rich with Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. Bon Appetit!