The menu at Feng Mao Mutton KebabLast week, a grocery store in Austin, Texas, was slapped with a lawsuit after it “accidentally” sold bull penis. The cut of meat, called “pizzle,” was apparently labeled as “inedible beef, not intended for human consumption," before the store's manager repackaged it and put it out on the shelf.When I first heard the news, I thought, Whatever, Austin can eat a dick. But then, I reconsidered: Is there actually anything wrong with eating a dick?
To try it for myself, I headed to Feng Mao Mutton Kebab in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, where bull penis is not only a regular on the menu but is actually one of their best-selling items. Feng Mao is the type of Korean barbecue joint where you cook your food over a small fire pit at your table, and the penis is sold by the skewer for just $1.50 a pop. I ordered two penis skewers, plus a few skewers of beef and short ribs to use for flavor comparison.When the raw meat came out, it had been thinly sliced so that it looked more like dried apricots than a boner. The slices were only about the size of a quarter in diameter, which was surprising, given bulls' reputation for being enormously hung. I asked the waitress some embarrassing questions (like, “When should I take my penis off the grill?”) while rotating it over the open fire. The meat itself dripped an oil-like substance into the flames as it cooked.
Raw meat skewers, with slices of bull penis in the back.When the waitress told me it was done, I poked at the penis with my chopsticks. The meat had shriveled and crisped over the flame, but it remained pale compared with the other cuts of beef, which had browned considerably. Then I took a bite. The pizzle tasted similar to alligator tail: chewy, tough meat with a bland and somewhat grimy flavor. The first bite wasn’t great, especially compared with the seasoned-beef skewers that sat beside the dick on my plate. But after a second bite, I decided that the crispy edges mitigated the rubbery texture and a sprinkle of seasoning redeemed the flavor. The penis was growing on me.
Beef cock roasting on an open fireIn a handful of cultures, eating penis is thought to possess special health qualities. Chinese athletes have been known to gnaw on deer penis to heal injuries, and other preparations—especially yak penis—are thought to enhance virility. In Jamaica, bull penis is stewed with rum, bananas, and peppers to create a delicacy called cow cod soup, said to be an aphrodisiac; there are similar versions of the soup in Bolivia, where where they call it caldo de cardan, and in Malaysia, where it's called beef torpedo soup. Not totally appalling when you consider that here in the American West, we eat things like “Rocky Mountain oysters”—bull’s balls, battered and deep-fried—and, you know, hot dogs.
A skewer of beef penis at Feng Mao Mutton KebobI managed to get through one skewer of my penis before pushing the plate away. Would I eat it again? Maybe, if I were in a place that served bull penises and nothing else. But it definitely won’t be on my grocery list any time soon.Follow Arielle on Twitter.