Bob’s favorite restaurant in Liepaja is Patnieka Maja, which translates to “Postman’s House.” It makes us joke about Dr Zhivago and a mime-type joke of “past-your-neck” like “past-your-eyes milk.”Located in the center of a park, the old house has lots of flowers and a large, multi-step wooden deck. It’s a comfortable place to spend an hour or two, which is how long you are usually there.
People complain on the internet about the wait for menus, drinks, and your eventual order. It’s not that strange in Europe. And the lack of friendliness isn’t that weird in a post-Soviet country where you don’t speak the language. We bring our own bottles of water and plan to spend the afternoon.
One of their most popular dishes is a Latvian smoked cod stew, but we usually go for meat and potatoes. The pork is always good in Latvia.
We especially like the ribs.
Last time we were here I was tempted by a house special called “Naughty Letters,” which was bull testicles. I am just a very curious person, and have also been known to accept dares even when no one is daring me. When am I going to get this chance again? Last year I saw a couple next to us get what I assumed was this dish, a shiny meat bag filled with meatloaf. It looked like haggis. They were loving it.
So, this time around, I really thought about it, and as Bob has learned to do over the years, he just said, “I’m not going to tell you what to order.” I am not a fan of organ meat in general, although I do like in descending order:
Foie Gras. Like meat butter. Pure heaven. And I would rather be a foie gras goose than a Foster Farms chicken any day.
Gizzards: I grew up eating chicken gizzards, and I enjoy them fried in batter at Dinah’s in Glendale.
Cow’s stomach (tripe) in fiery hot menudo. Again, I grew up with it and I don’t know if I would like any other preparation.
Beef heart: I had a carne asada-style preparation at St John’s in London, and it was OK, if not amazing. Chef Kuniko Yago prepared beef heart dumplings once for a Jonathan Gold event and they were honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten.
Tongue: I once had an amazing banh mi sandwich made by Chef Ray Garcia, but I’ve also had it several times where I don’t like the powdery texture.
Sweetbreads: I was once bullied by two esteemed chefs into eating some at a food event. They were crisp, fatty and delicious. I tried them at an Argentinian chain restaurant and didn’t get past the first bite. Good chefs can make anything delicious and bad cooks can make anything awful.
I am not in love with Haggis, though due to my Scottish heritage I have eaten a polite serving several times. It’s sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), along with oats and spices, cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. It could do with a lot more spices.
I can’t stand chicken liver, beef liver, brains or kidneys.
So…I tried asking questions to figure the testicles out. I asked if they were filled with beef, like haggis. I mean, I eat hot dogs and sausages in natural casings (intestine). So it would be like that, or like haggis. Just plain old ground meat. The menu does say “stuffed.” I ordered it. It took FOREVER to arrive, along with Bob’s lovely fish.
It wasn’t the same thing as I saw last year.
I sliced into it, and discovered that the purple veins went through and through. It was not full of meat. Well, it WAS. Full of testicle meat. I’m knee-deep in my own dare now. I can’t back out. I cut a bite and it tasted –exactly like beef liver. Which I hate. Of course it was organ meat…sexual organs. Of course! Well, I just had to know, and now I knew.
Later that night, after Bob had left to stay with his mom, I thanked the gods for Pici Pizza! And then I made jokes about balls the entire rest of the trip, which you know is the real reason I ordered them.