What the Nobel Prize is to people who have broken new ground in the service of mankind, the annual Virginia City Mountain Oyster Fry is to eating sheep testicles.
Mother Nature provided the blue skies and a freshly gelded flock from New Zealand for the 14th annual Virginia City Mountain Oyster Fry Saturday.
In all, the seven teams in this year's competition moved some 200 pounds of premium tendergroin - from sweet to spicy-hot, the public devoured loads of barnyard bollocks like certified nuts. Reno's Mel Carpenter of Mel's, Jon's & John's Honest to Gawd Comstock Mountain Oysters sold out fast.
The nautically themed Gilligan's Gonads booth sold their 25 pounds of delicate delicacies in a staggering 38 minutes according to brothers Tom and Paul Reis, while over at the Bucket of Blood Saloon's Flaming Balls stand, Silena Snyder was left with nothing but sauce.
Gilligan's Gonads "little buddies" won the award for "Best Booth," and Snyder and the bunch from Flaming Balls walked away with the "Best First-Time Cook" nod.
But the day belonged to Galletti's Gonads, cooked up by Reno's Greg Galletti and family, owners of Reno's Coney Island Bar. Adding a curry-like flair to the castrated fare, Galletti's Gonads took home "Best Presentation," "Most Creative" and the "Best Overall Taste" awards.
While still pure novelty to some, Dan Arratte, 66, of Reno has been chugging cowboy caviar his entire life. Raised in a Basque family, his father a shepherd, "potros" or "lamb nuts" as he calls them, have always found their way to the family dinner table, even during birthday parties.
Josh Varischetti says this was the hardest of his three years to judge. With a smaller-than-normal field, the hot-air balloon pilot paced in the upstairs dining room of the Delta Saloon & Restaurant while the final tallies were overseen by chief judge, Fritz Rubins.
Another of the judges and four-time "Best Overall Taste" winner Brandi Lee promised to come out of retirement for 2006. It's her last year tasting other people's recipes.
"I'll definitely be entering the contest next year," she said, hoping to regain past glory with her own gourmet gonads.
n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.