Fried: We eat cow balls so you don't have to

This week's fried food: Calf fries at the Stockyards

By Sarah Fenske

I've never been a particularly healthy eater. For one thing, I've got a fast food jones to rival the Hamburglar's -- I go through the drive-through at least four times a week. And even when I take the time to go somewhere nicer, I tend to order something soaked in saturated fat. Alfredo sauce? I'm lovin' it! French fries? Only if you bring me a tub of mayo ...

So when New Times needed someone to file weekly reports on fried food around the Valley, I was an enthusiastic volunteer. Hey, I eat the stuff anyway; I might as well have a good excuse for ordering it.

And while I didn't plan to try anything exotic for my first Fried post, somehow I ended up at The Stockyards Restaurant, putting in order for calf fries.

For the unitiated, those are cow testicles. Breaded and fried cow testicles, that is, with a side of marinara.

Did I also mention I'm an adventurous eater?

I was dining with my friend Jim, who initially pretended to be a good sport. (My other companion, Amy, didn't even feign a willingness to play along. "No balls!" she said, in the tone I might use to discipline my 11-week-old puppy.)

"Sure, I'll try one," Jim said, after our waitress delivered an appetizer-sized bowl of balls. After all, they look like fried mushrooms -- nothing scary there.

But then we sliced one open, and were treated to a view of the pink fleshy innards. (See above.) "They look surprisingly like what you would think they would look like," Jim said, "and that's not good."

Suffice to say I was alone in giving the dish a try.

I don't think I would order these babies again, at least not for the taste. They weren't awful, just kind of soft and kind of spongy, with a slight taste of sweat -- not just what you think cow testicles would look like, but also like what you'd imagine they taste like. Like, well, balls.

But for $10, these things do have their uses. What a great way to screen first dates, for one thing. (If your dining companion won't even give them a try, who knows what else they won't do? No offense, Amy and Jim.) Or what about freaking out your out-of-town guests? The Stockyards is a mecca for bola-tie-wearing, beef-eating rancher types; give your friends a taste of Old Phoenix!

For this particular lunch, though, I can report that I only made it through five calf fries. Hey, I still had a pastrami sandwich coming with French fries. And yes, I did ask for a side of mayo.