Spring rolls, ratatouille and curry were on the menu at a quirky food festival in rural Serbia on Saturday, with one ingredient in common: they all had to contain animal testicles.
Now in its 15th year, the World Testicle Cooking Championship draws amixed and variable group of teams — from groups of friends to professional chefs — who battle it out over a few days of fun in the Serbian countryside.
There they set up cooking camps in a forest, stirring bubbling stews over wood fires as they vie for the coveted “Ball Cup.”
While the testicles — gray and with a kidney-like texture — may spoil some appetites, festival-goers wax poetic about their taste and alleged aphrodisiac qualities.
“There were some really interesting combinations of flavor. … The winner was super, really fantastic,” said Philomena O’Brien, an Australian woman who sat on the three-judge panel that blind-tasted dishes from nearly 20 teams. “Choosing the best balls is quite a responsibility.”
The event was started by Ljubomir Erovic, the author of a recipe book called “Cooking with Balls,” who claims testicles boost a man’s libido.
“It’s really an aphrodisiac festival,” he said before donning a chef’s hat and announcing the winner on stage.
Flares and fireworks lit up the sky after a local Serbian team was crowned the winner, with a team of Japanese curry-makers and French restaurateurs also singled out.
“It was quite challenging to do French gastronomy with testicles,” said a member of the French team, Philippe, who runs a restaurant in Paris.
“But we are happy with the result,” he added, showing off the team’s four-course menu featuring bull testicles with foie gras and chocolate “salty balls,” for which it received a special award.
Milos Kojanic, a 24-year-old from the winning team, said his group also took home last year’s trophy.
The secret to their saucy stews?
“That will never be revealed,” he said.