FoodMeTrivia Series #4: Watermelon Basics

Watermelon is a sweet, refreshing, healthy snack that FoodMeOmaha cannot get enough of. This summer I have been on a watermelon kick (seven watermelons so far)!

Watermelon

Ready-to-eat, chilled cut watermelon has been my daily snack. Due to my watermelon kick, I have learned some watermelon basics.


Question:
When is watermelon in season?

Answer: Domestic watermelon is in peak season in May, June, July, and August. Think watermelon and summer.


Question:
How to pick the best watermelon?

Answer: It is important to pick out a sweet and juicy watermelon for optimal taste! The first three things I look for are:

  1. Dull and dark green skin: Look for a dull, non-shiny skin and dark green color.
  2. Yellow spot: Look for a yellow creamy spot, aka the “field spot.” This shows that it has been sitting on the ground for a long time and getting ripe.
  3. Heavy for its size: Pick it up and check how heavy it is. The heavier the better for water-weight goodness. I sometimes compare between similar size watermelons.

After the above, I do the thud/knocking test, but sometimes I don’t have the distinguishing ear on the hollow sound (good) versus the thick sound (bad). The visual and weight are more dependable indicators for me.

Here are some great online resources on picking the right watermelon.

FoodMeOmaha Tip: Leave the watermelon out in room temperature for a few days to get a bit more ripe. I commonly do this when I am not ready to cut the watermelon.


Question:
How to cut a watermelon?

Answer: Fruit ninja style! Just kidding. Of course, there are several ways to cut a watermelon. My current favorite cutting method is watermelon sticks.

After eating a few watermelon sticks, I then cut the sticks into cubes. The bite-sized pieces are stored in containers and refrigerated for later snacking.

FoodMeOmaha Tips:

  • Prior to cutting, I wipe the watermelon with a damp paper towel or wash it under running water if it is extra dirty.
  • Set a towel under the cutting board to catch the watermelon juice for easy clean up. Otherwise, I have experienced sticky watermelon juice leaking on to the counter and floor.

Next time, I plan to try the following efficient methods to cut watermelon into cubes:

How do you cut your watermelon?

Stay tuned for the next FoodMeOmaha post on the unusual “biohazard” watermelon I had!

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FoodMeTrivia Series #3: The Making of Rocky Mountain Oysters

Question: What are rocky mountain oysters?

Answer: Rocky mountain oysters are cooked animal testicles, usually from cows. Lamb, pig, goat, yak, buffalo, and turkey testicles are also eaten. Its a well-known, novelty dish in parts of western America where cattle ranching is prevalent. Other names they go by are prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, and calf fries.

As explained by Wikipedia, rocky mountain oysters

“are often deep-fried after being peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and sometimes pounded flat. This delicacy is most often served as an appetizer with a cocktail sauce dip.”

I find the cocktail sauce humorous. CornyMe. Other sauces include hot sauce, tartar sauce, and ranch sauce.

The first rocky mountain oysters I tried were deep-fried, breaded, sliced cow balls served with ranch sauce (pictured above). And, they were good! (See the FoodMeOmaha post, “My First Balls: Rocky Mountain Oysters“.)

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Question: How are rocky mountain oysters made?

Answer: From start to finish, here are generic steps to make the classic rocky mountain oysters:

  1. Get some balls.
  2. Cut a slit in the skin-like muscle surrounding each testicle and remove the skin.
  3. Once peeled, give the balls a bath. Soak the balls in either salt water, beer, milk, or vinegar mixture for a couple of hours.
  4. Slice, pound, or leave the balls whole.
  5. Season and bread the balls.
  6. Deep-fry the balls for a few minutes.
  7. Eat some balls!

Curious and still can’t visualize the process?

Here’s a video of rocky mountain oysters in the making with yak and bison balls.

Here’s is a video of smaller balls (I suspect calf) being peeled.

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Question: Are there swimmers in rocky mountain oysters?

Answer: My friend’s doctor friend verified that sperm is in the testicles. The balls are the swimmer’s home base. Naturally, it makes you wonder, are you eating microscopic cow tadpoles?

On my online research, I found some entertaining comments:

  • “Is there still semen in rocky mountain oysters? and if so is it like a twinkie?”
  • “Where do you think the sauce comes from?”
  • “extra protein!”
  • “Don’t let them fool you. A cooked swimmer is still a swimmer! Don’t let them tell you otherwise!”

According to wiseGeek’s “How Do I Make Rocky Mountain Oysters”,

“Testicles are often removed from a calf when he is branded, but may also be removed from adult bulls. The calf testicles are smaller and more tender so are the preferred meat to use.”

A Yahoo! Answers contributor explained

“They are removed from young bulls not mature enough to breed, once a male calf is sent to the feed lot to be fattened up for processing he becomes a steer or a castrated male, they are just spongy tissues when removed, I cooked them and ate them as a chef, I use bull and lambs fry’s for use in the places I worked as chef.”

While I don’t have a concrete answer, here’s my theory. If you are eating calf balls, then you are not eating any swimmers since they haven’t hit puberty. If you are eating adult balls, then you are eating unseen, cooked, dead swimmers. Extra protein!

If you know the answer, please share with CuriousMe!

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Question: Which dining venues serve rocky mountain oysters?

Answer: You can find rocky mountain oysters at testicle festivals (which I have yet to experience) or restaurants and bars around America. It’s common to find them served at western-themed steakhouses. Case in point, I tried my first balls at Black Iron Grill Steakhouse and Salon in Rock Port, MO. In the Omaha area, Dinker’s Bar and Grill serves classic rocky mountain oysters which FoodMeOmaha plans to try one day!

FoodMeTrivia Series #2: The Meaning of Brasserie

Question: What is a brasserie?

Answer: Brasserie should not be confused with brassiere (spelled with an extra “i”), aka the bra.

According to Dictionary.com, brasserie is

“an unpretentious restaurant, tavern, or the like, that serves drinks, especially beer, and simple or hearty food.”

According to Wikipedia, brasserie is

“a type of French restaurant with a relaxed, upscale setting, which serves single dishes and other meals. The word brasserie is also French for “brewery” and, by extension, “the brewing business”.  A brasserie can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linen—unlike a bistro which may have none of these.”

Brasserie is usually not as casual as a bistro or as formal as a fine-dining French restaurant. They are known for traditional, simple French fare and beer.

Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee fits the brasserie definition.

Dario’s website states “A Brasserie, pronounced (Brahs-uh-REE) is an informal French café that serves beer, wine and simple hearty food. Dario’s is a European style restaurant with banquette seating and gentle lighting that give an intimate and elegant feel. Our cozy and comfortable bar area is great for a drink or casual dining experience.”

Thankfully, Dario’s Brasserie isn’t a bra place! Check out the FoodMeOmaha reviews, “Mussel Up at Dario’s Brasserie” and “Dish Up at Dario’s Brasserie“.

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Question: What are other types of French restaurants?

Answer: The French have a naming system for different types of restaurants. This includes bistro, brasserie (discussed above), cafe, salon de the, and bistrot a vin.

Since these bloggers explain it, here are posts describing the different types of French restaurants:

FoodMeTrivia Series #1: Introducing FoodMeTrivia

Question: What is the FoodMeTrivia Series?

Answer: The FoodMeTrivia Series is a new FoodMeOmaha blog post series of food trivia. I will be sharing food-related facts that catches my attention/appetite in question-and-answer format. This foodie has a lot to learn, explore, and share! Hopefully, the FoodMeTrivia Series will whet your foodie knowledge or at least entertain you.

Stay tuned for the next FoodMeTrivia post. Hint: This word shouldn’t be confused with bra…