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The Nasty Bits: Yak Testicles

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[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

Having only had pork and lamb testicles, I'd always thought of rocky mountain oysters as parts that I like, but do not love, to eat. Tender with a texture similar to scallops, pork and lamb testicles are mildly gamey and juicy—in short, a very likeable treat, though I'd take an actual scallop over either kind of testicle.

Over the weekend I feasted on a pair that caused me to rethink my position, and now I can say that I really, truly do love certain testicles. One bite of yak testicles forever changed my opinion: Creamy with a texture more like fish roe, yak rocky mountain oysters are delicious.

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I bought these testicles from Joy Robertshaw of Taos Mountain Yak, my local friendly yak farmer here in Northern New Mexico. Joy leases twelve hundred acres on which to graze her herd, one hundred strong. Joy started with a bull and a heifer she named Bond and Moneypenny; now, the herd grazes all year long and roams freely around her house in Taos.

Joy is a woman after my own heart: It was her idea to have me try the testicles after I'd requested yak neck and tongue. Joy knits yak wool and she even works with artists to use the rougher yak hairs in micaceous clay pottery. A mild-mannered woman, she still gets riled up over the USDA's classification of yak as "exotic," an ironic choice, she points out, considering that the yak is the oldest domesticated bovine species.

I will be sad to leave New Mexico once my visit is over. Yak farmers are few and far in between in New York and across the eastern seaboard, leaving me to ponder the all-important question: Where will I get my yak testicles once I'm back home?

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