Testy Festy Turns 25 With Rocky Mountain Oysters

This is the 25th anniversary of the Testy Festy. Adventurous eaters travel to Clinton, Montana, where the featured delicacy for the weekend is Bull Testicles. Tonya Hill, the manager and head chef of the annual festival, talks with Scott Simon.

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This is the 25th anniversary of the Testy Festy. Adventurous eaters travel from all over to Clinton, Montana, where the featured delicacy for the weekend is -I'm just going to say this straight out now - bull's testicles.

Tonya Hill is the manager of the kitchen and the head chef of the annual festival. She joins us from the studios of KUFM in Missoula.

Chef Hill, thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. TONYA HILL (Head Chef, 25th Annual Testicle Festival): Thank you.

SIMON: Tastes like chicken?

Ms. HILL: It does. Actually, it tastes like whatever you dip it in.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And you have a lot of dipping sauces available, right?

Ms. HILL: Well, we offer cocktail and ranch.

SIMON: Yeah. There was a time when you thought of them as always being deep-fried, but I gather there's, you know, in deference to a modern sensibilities they're not just deep-fried nowadays.

Ms. HILL: Oh, this year I decided to try kebabs, and they've been a hit so far.

SIMON: I've eaten little bits of onion and green pepper as well as the featured…

Ms. HILL: Red pepper and mushroom.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. What are the different ways you serve it?

Ms. HILL: I can do teriyaki style. I can do sweet and sour. And I have another one that I have to keep a secret. It's got a special Jack sauce on it. And then we could do buffalo style, like, basically marinate them in buffalo sauce.

SIMON: It's like buffalo chicken wing sauce, you mean?

Ms. HILL: Right, right.

SIMON: Very spicy. Yeah. So they're legitimately good?

Ms. HILL: They are very good. And, you know, I think a lot of the eww(ph) about it, you know, like I can't eat that, that's a bull testicle, you know.

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. HILL: I think it's psychological because, I mean, really, you can't even tell. It's all in your head, I think, because - especially the deep fat-fried ones, they definitely taste like you dip it in cocktail sauce, you taste the cocktail sauce. You know, I mean, the texture is different.

SIMON: Chicken McNuggets.

Ms. HILL: Pretty much, yes. Just thinner.

SIMON: Now, bull McNuggets, I suppose.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HILL: There you go.

SIMON: May I ask, for people who've never eaten a bull's testicle, do you recognize it for what it is on a plate?

Ms. HILL: I don't think so. No. Because quite honestly, the first time it was offered to me I almost just picked it up and took a bite of it, and the guy looks at me and I'm like, well, what is it? And he just looks at me and he just smiles and he says, well, it's a Rocky Mountain oyster. Well, I know the proper name and I just put it back down and I said, you know, you would have a better chance of me trying that if you would lie to me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HILL: And then I finally just tried it because, you know, working there and people asking, hey, what do they taste like? I'm not that brave, so I just finally bit the bullet and did it.

SIMON: May I ask, are there notably more men or women at the festival?

Ms. HILL: I don't think so. I think it's equal. You know, you get a lot of couples coming from out of town and things. Friends make a week of it. You know, they just all meet up to have fun. Then have a bull.

SIMON: Oh my word. Well, Chef Hill, nice talking to you.

Ms. HILL: Nice talking to you.

SIMON: Tonya Hill is the manager and head chef of the annual Testy Festy. She spoke with us from Missoula, Montana.

Bon appetit. This is NPR News.

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