That time I ate alligator balls
We drove down to New Orleans from Atlanta as part of a—rather hilarious and eventful—road trip through four southern states. We arrived in NOLA around lunch time. And we were starving. In no mood to drive to the Bourbon Street area and without an ounce of patience to ride the street car there, we decided to stay in the Garden District and opted for a quiet restaurant near the hotel.
A few minutes later we were sitting on a terrace, sipping on a drink and reading the menu. On the list: ‘gator balls. We totally understood that ‘gator stood for alligator. We were already well versed in the use of elision on menus. The day before, we had eaten fried green ‘maters (i. e. tomatoes) and mashed ‘taters (i.e. potatoes)—trust me, this is how they were spelled on the menu!—somewhere in Montgomery, Alabama. It was the “balls” portion of the dish that gave us pause. Were they actually going to serve us alligator testes? Were we reading this right?
Don’t get me wrong, eating alligator meat was on my list of foods to eat, right after gumbo and jambalaya. But alligator balls… I so did not sign up for this! I’m a pretty adventurous eater. I’ll whine, shut my eyes or even zone out before I taste, but taste it I will. Kidneys, hearts and livers don’t faze me. But testes got me thinking.
The waitress, who reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood), reassured us: they were alligator meatballs. In a sing-song voice, she talked about the seasoning and guaranteed that we wouldn’t be disappointed. We ordered the meatballs, and hoped for the best.
I ate the balls, and absolutely loved them. The taste reminded me of chicken. Yet something about it reminded me of fish. The texture, maybe?
These ‘gator balls are way up on the list of things that will bring me back to NOLA.