When I was in 8th grade, I went on a westward expansion tour with my godparents, Joe and Earlene.

It was a trip of firsts for me in many ways- my first flight alone [from Atlanta to Louisiana], my first trip without parents, my first proper french braid. Mom never was one for fancying up our hairs, so when Earlene’s niece was able to give me a beautiful french plait, I was in heaven.

We drove from Louisiana through Texas and up to Wyoming, then back down again. And I slept through Colorado. Both ways. [Sorry, Colorado. I was a growing and hormonal girl.]

We traveled in a conversion van and ate tomato sandwiches as we went. I remember that my choice was tomato or olive loaf [I think? It was 1994, so forgive if my memory slips a bit], so I went for tomato.

And I still love a good tomato sandwich. Thank you, Earlene and Joe.

Because I’m happy to share fun facts from this particular trip, I will also share that I wrote a song about the Oregon Trail to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies. Totally from memory, here are some of the lyrics:

“Listen to the story about the Oregon Trail….”

[Yeah. That’s all I remember. But I have it written down. Don’t worry, Smithsonian, when you want my lyrical genius, it is in my Garfield diary.]

One of our first nights, we stopped in Amarillo, Texas at a massive restaurant called Big Texan Steak Ranch. I remember Earlene and Joe ordering a fried appetizer for us to share called mountain oysters.

I didn’t know what they were. I just ate a few and thought they tasted like rubbery brussel sprouts. [Seriously, my gag reflex is about to cause a mess here in my flat.]

At the risk of being a google hit for bovine porn, I’m going to tell you what mountain oysters are.

Mountain oysters are calf testicles.

FRIED. CALF. TESTICLES.

And that, my friends, is the story of the bravest eating moment in my life.

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What have you eaten before that forced you to muster up some courage?

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Who I’m reading: Melissa’s 31 Days to an Artful Event. This is SUCH a fun series… she’s walking step by step through planning a huge party. I’m in love with every bit of it.