Our continuing quest to try all 100 foods a DC Omnivore must experience checks out sweetbreads.
There are a few items on the Omnivore 100 list that will elicit a very strong reaction. Sweetbreads certainly has to be one of them. I think there’s no middle ground here, as with, say, sea urchin, you either love it or you hate it.
To the uninitiated, sweetbreads are classified as offal, and are the thymus gland of veal, beef, lamb, or pork. Most of the sweetbreads I’ve been served are veal or lamb, and indeed according to the venerable Fannie Farmer, only veal sweetbreads should rightly be considered (and in the 1918 edition, actually recommended for the “convalescent,” so as I’m sitting here wasting away from flu, a plate of sweetbreads is sounding pretty delicious…).
It’s hard to adequately describe the taste, but I’ll give it a whirl – properly prepared, veal sweetbreads are slightly firm giving way to a creamy, almost gelatinous succulence. Velvety also comes to mind. I’ve found veal has a more delicate flavor than lamb.