So, Krebs is kind of an odd location. It’s a tiny little town known as Oklahoma’s Little Italy. At one time, there was a mine in the nearby countryside and so a ton of Italian immigrants moved to Krebs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was, in fact, the site of one of the largest mine disasters in the United States in 1892, when an explosion caused a partial mine collapse that killed over a hundred people.
Anyway, these immigrants settled into the area and at one point there were three Italian restaurants functioning in Krebs, along with Lovera’s Market, an Italian shop where one can purchase Italian sausages and cheeses made onsite, along with other Italian food items shipped right from the homeland. Lovera’s is still operational and still in the family after nearly a hundred years of operation; I took home a little Italian summer sausage and some caviocavalli cheese, still in the odd balloon shape cheese takes when it’s aged by hanging it from ropes in the old traditional way. Cheese still aging was hanging all around the store.
Anyway, a quick nod to Roseanna’s Italian Food, one of the three restaurants that has now closed down. It was on my list to visit in order to have the lamb fries there as well, but when I visited Krebs a while back, all that was left was a small, run-down, abandoned building. One of the books that I’m getting these food items from is called 500 Things You Must Eat Before It’s Too Late, and Roseanna’s is a stark reminder that the title isn’t just a creative turn of phrase. The small family-type restaurants that genuinely serve some of the best food you’ll find across America are often in danger of closing. A tip of the hat to Roseanna’s, a note of regret that I didn’t get there in time, and a challenge to you readers to prioritize supporting these kinds of small restaurants in your area. Once they’re gone, we won’t get them back and I think I speak for everyone reading this when I say, the chains just aren’t going to cut it as replacements.
But on to lamb fries. I mentioned last time that this might turn some stomachs. I have a lot of friends who swear they’ll never eat lamb fries or any variation on them and they’re from this area, where the meal is considered part of the culture. Variations on this meal come under many names: prairie oysters, rocky mountain oysters, calf fries, depending on the source of the meat. Okay, long story short (too late), testicles. Balls. Nuts. Yup. Sliced testicles, breaded and fried up. The idea is that testicle meat is more tender than most other meat you’re going to get off of animals. I think all the guys will agree that this makes sense in a purely philosophical sense. Anyway, Pete’s variation on the testicle meal is lamb testicles from New Zealand. I have no idea why New Zealand. Most people around here make do with calf or bull testicles. Pete goes the extra mile.
So, I approached this meal with genuine trepidation. I mean, logically, testicles aren’t any more disgusting than a lot of things we eat. I mean, think about what an egg actually is. Eating balls isn’t any worse than that, I’d argue. It’s just a psychological issue. As someone raised to have a very particular relationship to testicles, a relationship that does not involve eating them, it’s a little hard to get my head around this meal.
So, this is by far the priciest meal I’ve encountered so far, but Pete’s is set up in a weird way. With whatever entrée you order, you get a load of pasta served up family style. So, big bowls for everyone at the table to share. Of course, everyone at the table is basically required to get an entrée in order to prevent one person buying an entrée and the other five people (for instance) just chowing down on the family style sides. So, let’s just stipulate that all the pasta (ravioli, spaghetti, etc.) really just sucks. It’s just not good at all. I mean, it’s like Chef Boyardee. Seriously. The lamb fries themselves were much better. The meat was certainly tender and the breading was good. But I don’t really see them as being particularly outstanding or worth going out of your way for. I mean, essentially, I was basically just enjoying them on the level of “oh, it’s some kind of tender meat in some kind of breading.” The meat didn’t really have any particular flavor that I could pick up on. I mean, it was good, but not remarkable at all. So, I found this meal definitely way overpriced, of generally poor quality and, at best, just kinda good. Recommended against. 2 stars.
tl;dr – once you get your head around eating testicles, you’ll discover that the main problem with this meal is how bland and uninteresting it turns out to be. 2 stars.