Although the answer isn't definite, the book FYI: Does Size Matter? 15 Questions We Aren't Afraid to Answer lends an important clue. In 1578, the word appeared in the book The historie of man. It read: "A certaine Glandulous part, called Thimus, which in Calues...is most pleasaunt to be eaten. I suppose we call it the sweete bread."
That explains why, the first time I witnessed the word sweetbreads being used, I mistakenly thought they were dessert or breakfast breads. Did you ever fall into the same trap?
Source: Flickr User jasonlam
Sietsema didn't actually catch sight of anything staring back at him but writes of the taste: "There were clods of gooey yellowish stuff . . . the eyeball goo had a texture somewhere between gristle and grape jelly and had to be chewed, with each chew breaking down more of the congealed vitreous humor."
I've got a pretty standout stomach, but I don't think I could lay eyes on this one. And you?
Source: Flickr User takaokun
On a recent trip to Texas, Reef wasn't the only provocative meal that I had. I also ate an unorthodox lunch at Feast, a restaurant that was opened by three British ex-pats, James Silk, Meagan Silk, and Richard Knight, in Houston last year. The eatery, which has earned accolades from the New York Times as well as a James Beard Best New Restaurant nomination, focuses on adventurous and gourmet nose-to-tail dining. See more of the restaurant — and the dishes that push America's dining envelope — when you keep reading.
The thymus glands of veal, beef, and pork. There are two glands, one near the heart (which is considered more delicious) and one near the throat.
Look for white, plump, and firm sweetbreads, and use within 24 hours of purchase. To remove the outer membrane, the glands are normally soaked in salt water before being cooked.
They can be prepared a variety of ways and are sometimes used to make pate.
I spent a good chunk of this weekend geeking out with geeksugar at the 2008 Maker Faire. While there I noticed a booth called "Secret Eating Society" and told geek she'd know where to find me if we got separated.
The Secret Eating Society is a group of Bay Area foodie hipsters who are putting out a quarterly journal of adventurous eats. (There's no word on where you can buy the journals, but you can send them an email and I'm sure they'll let you know.) They also have events around the area, including this booth at Maker Faire. Their booth was selling offal tacos — whole roasted pig and braised lamb cheeks — as well as hibiscus-mint coolers.
To celebrate the fact that Cinco de Mayo was just around the corner — not to mention the fact that I actually love weird meats — I ordered one of their tacos. And as much as I hate to say the pun you're all thinking, the braised lamb cheeks taco was indeed "offally" good.
So tell me, what do you think of a secret eating society? Would you join if it was in your area?