In a tiny Serbian hamlet, a panel of judges pours over bowls of goulash that have been stewing for hours and served in clay pots at the 10th annual World Testicle Cooking Championship
Contest judge Stein Brauten, a retired military officer from Lillehammer, Norway, takes his role as goulash referee seriously.
“I’m looking for taste and the mix of spices and what you can actually develop this into,” he said. “How can you actually present this on an international table–that’s what I am after.”
This contest is a small affair with just a few hundred people — most of them part of the dozen cooking teams.
Spectator Cornelius Vermeer, a Dutchman from Amsterdam, traveled to Serbia especially for this event. As he slams down one bowl and digs into another, he says he can’t wait to try them all.
“I want to taste it here. They have a few — like from the cow, from the pig," he said. "I have tried this one — I don’t know what it’s called but it’s very good.”
The event attracts mostly middle-aged men for a weekend of barbecuing and drinking. It’s a male-dominated atmosphere. But not all women shied away. Megan Hogarth from Tasmania, Australia, said the atmosphere was electric.
“I think there are a lot festivals all around the world that are much bigger and much more better known that aren’t half as interesting as this,” she said. “I mean, everyone is cooking testicles, of all things. And a lot of them are from countries where it isn’t actually common to eat testicles, which makes it all the more strange.”
Festival founder Ljubomir Erovic says he’s happy to keep the event small while reaching out for maximum publicity. He says Serbia is working to shed its bad image from the violent breakup of Yugoslavia and it’s events like these he likes — to celebrate those that have the courage, or the balls, to be the underdog.
“You know, Swiss have cheese, Scots have scotch but we Serbians have balls,” he said.
Organizers will also elect the “Ballsiest Man of the Year.” Past recipients included President Barack Obama and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
This year’s ballsiest man won’t be named until the end of the year, but tipped for the prize are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a woman, and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, both of whom have shown strong will and courage on the world stage; in other words, real cojones.