“Ugh. Brains,” I whispered to my wife after the chef announced that the third course would include sweetbreads.
“Sweetbreads,” I whispered, “are brains.”
“Oh,” she said, sounding rather amused, though far from relieved. “I thought they were balls.”
Hey, they might as well have been balls, because guess what brains and balls both have in common? Neither one goes in my mouth.
[NOTE: OK, I was wrong: sweetbreads are not brains; they’re the animal’s thymus and/or pancreas glands … which look like brains … and which, therefore, might as well be brains and/or balls, because no, nope, and no thank you.]
Listen, when my mother-in-law sprung for us to attend an expensive benefit dinner at a luxury apartment in the ritziest section of Philadelphia for a meal prepared by the chef of a well-known Italian restaurant, I knew it was unlikely that he’d be serving something as pedestrian as my beloved chicken parmesan, OK? But brains?
And not just any brains, mind you: Veal brains. Yes, that’s right: Brains from cute little baby cows:
Oh, thank you, cute little baby cows, for reminding me about the cringe-worthy first course, featuring:
Please note, Chef, that there is only one person on this earth to whom I would utter the phrase “Give me some tongue,” and that person has neither a culinary degree nor a penis, so if you’re gonna start off my supposedly “Italian” dinner with tongue, the least you could do is disguise it amidst a tangy red sauce and some delicious pasta, am I right? Of course I’m right … which is why I was disappointed when the tongue instead was topped with this:
Ah, yes, that beloved Italian classic: Fried eggs and tongue. (PS: Does anyone have a phone number for the closest pizza joint?)
Thankfully, the second course featured pasta. Ravioli, in fact. Hallelujah. At last, a dish I can really — hey, wait a minute … what the fuck is in my ravioli?
Bunny ravioli? Seriously? What’s for dessert, asshole? Pan-seared unicorn with baby-harp-seal sauce?
Mercifully, dessert turned out to be a plain-old flourless chocolate cake. I think. Probably, he pureed his mother and folded her into the mix … but at least he had the common decency to not tell us about it.
If nothing else, the wine was good. And the company. And the luxury apartment. Next time, though? I’m bringing some chicken parm.
–>I think the pizza sounds pretty damn good at the moment.
My dad loves to tell the story that his dad enjoyed eggs and brains for breakfast on a regular basis. He said they were salty.
My Mother said as a child ,younger than Ms. Jana , she would serve me scrambled egss and brains. She said they sold them in a can at the grocery store. When we lived in Georgia.
the muskrat says
Gross. I eat at a restaurant that’s next to my office about once a week that serves up those sweetbread things, and I always decline them.
Yeah….this is why I don’t trust those fancy places. God knows what they will try to feed you!
is it wrong that each time you added a super cute baby animal photo to the illustrate that i laughed instead of gasped? i’m a vegetarian…shouldn’t i be a little upset by this? 🙂
I had an 8th grade science teacher that made us eat cow brains as an assignment. I shit you not.
Team Suzanne says
Sweetbread means brains? Jesus. No wonder I’m always confused. How can I be expected to navigate the world with misnomers like that?
I think ‘Green Eggs and Tongue’ was the original working title for the Dr. Seuss classic, before the editors overrode him.
My dad loved tongue. and escargot. and cactus. and pickled pigs feet. He also loved menudo. The soup, not the band mind you.
He was constantly telling me how good it was and how I should just try it. Gross
“just try it…you’ll like it” he said.
negative. I am not eating something that used to be able to taste me.
I thought sweetbreads were guts? Have I been wrong all this time? Either way, GUH-ROSS.
Kristine N says
I can’t stop laughing – OMG my husband would have been out of there in a shot.
Thanks for getting my day started off on the right track!!!!
That was hilarious. Thanks for the laugh!
Your blog is my guilty pleasure. It both amuses and horrifies me!
Sweet Breads are typically the Thymus or the Pancreas in the USA. Not brains. Brains are just called brains when served. Not that it makes them any better… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetbreads
my wife says
He did mention something about the Thalmus, but everyone at the table was referring to brains. Except me and my brother. I was thinking along the lines of rocky mountain oysters which at least kept me from eating it. My brother, on the other hand, was thankful for an appetizer that wasn’t body parts and actually thought he was eating Sweet Bread. I will never forget his face when it became clear to him what he had just consumed!
Reading your blog always puts a smile on my face!
I know veal is kinda Italian, but I didn’t realize that brains are. At least he didn’t serve this:
I just lost my lunch.
I had a similar experience to this in a restaurant in Toronto.
‘The Black Hoof” is slated as one of Toronto’s most popular restaurants and dining experiences..and to this day I am not sure why. https://theblackhoof.com/food/
I knew I was in trouble when ‘Calf Brain Ravioli’ was on one of their specials, with a side of horse tongue. I was so disgusted I had to walk out before my party was done.
I am with you on this post, why would anyone want to eat this kind of stuff?!
Kristi C says
My husband is quite fond of Blood Sausage in addition to sweetbread, tongue, brains, etc.
I told him if he slips any of the afore-mentioned between his lips, it will be a good 2-3 weeks before he is even allowed to kiss me on the cheek with those lips. ewwww.
Meg at the Members Lounge says
We ate at a restaurant in Montreal that served “tarte du cheval”. My high school French quickly kicked into gear; I instantly knew they were serving raw horse carpaccio.
Glad the vino was good! Your graphics were hilarious 🙂
Mind of a Madman says
This sounds hilariously awful…. FYI… Pan seared unicorn asshole tastes absolutely nothing like chicken!!! Trust me!
Ew. Just Ewwww. And blech.
HEY!!! Where are you? Still barfing?
Just for you: https://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry/?id=4834
Jon Zal says
Thanks for the info/clarification. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read all of it, because I started to throw up by the end of the first sentence.
LOL, just had a good laugh while reading the article. Nice to know you make it simple and with pictures to help illustrate and give humor.
Eric Bunde says
“What’s for dessert, asshole? Pan-seared unicorn with baby-harp-seal sauce?” Love it.
Katy Bug says
I am absolutely, completely and totally in favor of using every part of the animals we kill for food… But I don’t want to eat brain. I will eat liver. I might even try tongue. But brain? No. I’d rather feed that to the dogs. It just seems like the consistency would be, I dunno, “off” or something.
As for rabbit, I will eat it all the live long day. My dad and his parents all raise rabbits for food and it is freaking delicious. They’re a fast growing source of lean protein, and a barbequed rabbit leg is amazing. I don’t understand the squick factor in eating rabbits. “They’re cute!” is not a good enough reason for me not to eat it, especially since rabbit populations aren’t exactly in danger of extinction.