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GORNJI MILANOVAC, Serbia (Reuters Life!) - First he helped found the World Testicle Cooking Festival in his hometown south of Belgrade. Now Ljubomir Erovic is seeking to spread his enthusiasm for eating testicles in a new recipe book.
"I wanted to make something that we could be known by...to make a Serbian brand, not to be famous only for bombs, sanctions or corruption," Erovic said at a friend's inn in the wooded hills of central Serbia.
Rich in testosterone, the politely nicknamed "white kidneys" have been considered a strong aphrodisiac and in some countries are believed to cure impotence if eaten on a regular basis. Even the ancient Greeks believed that eating sheep's testicles before battle made a man stronger, Erovic says.
"Testicles have been a delicacy in Serbia and elsewhere for as long as anyone can remember," Erovic said. "The world had to be offered good balls."
At the Gornji Milanovac's testicle-eating festival each May, chefs come from Greece, Hungary, Finland, Norway and as far away as Australia to grill, goulash or make pies out of testicles from some 15 different types of animals, including bulls, pigs, sheep, horses, kangaroos and ostriches.
Erovic's electronic cookbook subtitled "Cooking with Balls" offers suggestions on how to cook on a grill or stove with various spices such as fresh rosemary, yarrow, thyme and basil, grapes and wine. The book sells for about six pounds ($10).
For some recent visitors at a small cottage belonging to a friend Erovic prepared testicles in bechamel sauce and testicle goulash. He also played guitar and told stories to guests.
The sheep testicles were sliced and cooked together with liver, intestines and kidneys, a grass which he refused to name, fresh red grapes and dry white wine. The dish was rich in taste, compact in structure but softer than kidneys with a flavor that recalled venison.
He pointed out that no animals need to be killed to enjoy testicles and that farm animals are often castrated to improve growth anyway.
A medical equipment repairman during the week, Erovic works on weekends as a chef when guests seek out his cooking.
"It has to be well in advance," he said. "It's not easy to collect enough material for a meal."
He also insists that good music and wine are key to enjoying the delicacy.
"I've always loved the unusual, strong things in life."
Editing by Adam Tanner