On the Road: Cheesesteak and Euphemisms in Boise

To see all posts from my August 10 visit to the Boise Hawks, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

At Memorial Stadium, home of the Boise Hawks, I met a man named Sean Miller. But Sean was not just any man. Sean had volunteered to be my designated eater, consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.

img_0342Sean, who works as a branch manager for construction machinery corporation Caterpillar, is an Idaho guy. He’s lived in Boise for the past 15 years, and before that he was in Pocatello. He and his friends are big baseball fans, to the extent that they’ll think nothing of leaving Boise at midnight to hit up a Rockies day game.

“All I need is a Rockie dog,” he said.

Sean is also a big fan of the Hawks, especially since the team became a Rockies affiliate (prior to the 2015 season). He and his family have been season ticket holders for four years, a role he transitioned to after hanging up his softball spikes. When dining at Memorial Stadium, Sean said that he usually goes with the Killer Kielbasa. Today, his dining options would be a bit more varied.

We began with an order of “Redneck Tacos,” available from the “Nacho Business” concourse kiosk. Redneck Tacos consist of pulled pork, cabbage, cheese, pico de gallo and barbecue sauce. An order of three will set you back $8.50.

img_0341Have at is, Sean. Have at it.

“The pork’s really good, and I like that they have the cabbage on there. This is like a Carolina pulled pork sandwich,” said Sean. “You can’t go wrong with barbecue pulled pork.”

Next up was the Idaho Cheesesteak: provolone cheese, meat, peppers, onions and…hash browns.

img_0344Let’s go in for a closer look.

img_2633“That’ll set you free right there,” said Sean, gazing at this state-specific cheesesteak in admiration and wonder.

img_0345“You can taste the potatoes in there, and it gives it a different texture,” said Sean. “The meat’s tender, and the way they cook it with the onions and peppers? You just can’t go wrong.”

The Idaho Cheesesteak had been procured at this concession stand, located in a picnic area on the third base side of the stadium.

img_0346Next up? Rocky Mountain Oysters.

img_2637“Rocky Mountain Oysters” sounds appealing enough, but it’s just another name for deep-fried bull calf gonads. (I once enjoyed a similar dish in my pre-gluten free days, at a cattleman’s restaurant in Oklahoma City. There they were called lamb fries.)

Sean was familiar with Boise’s favorite culinary euphemism, telling me that nearby Eagle, Idaho, is home to one of the biggest Rocky Mountain Oyster feeds in the country. He also wanted no part in eating one. All of a sudden, Sean remembered he had a previous engagement with a facepainter. Ok, Sean. Fine. See you later. We’ll just have to find someone else to eat testicles.

img_0348

That person turned out to be Toby Miller (no relation to Sean), a fellow Caterpillar employee. Toby, having grown up in a family of ranchers, was far less squeamish than Sean.

img_2641

“I’m on the business end of a steer occasionally,” said Toby. “When that happens, that’s what you end up having for dinner. They’re good with a cold beer.”

He then turned to Sean, who was still getting his head painted. “See, the problem with you is that you think too much.”

Toby in action:

“I do triathlons, so this is not my usual diet,” said Toby. “I like the small ones, they taste like chicken. That’s the joke, right? It all tastes like chicken.”

God bless Toby, stepping in where Sean dared not tread.

img_0350Sean’s head did look pretty cool, though.

img_2643

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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