Swedish Meatballs are not Swedish! Even Sweden Says So
In a shocking development, the Swedish government Tweeted recently the truth about it's famed balled meat dish. It turns out that they are not from Sweden. Rather what is know as Swedish Meatbalsl is a dish based on a recipe King Charles XII of Sweden brought back to the country from Turkey in the early 18th century.
The Tweet from the Swedish Institute, which is kind of like the Swedish tourism agency tasked with promoting Sweden to the world, sparked some internet unrest according to The Huffington Post. Some people were shocked (at least I'm hoping in an ironic way). It even prompted some online Sherlocking to find corroborating evidence. Like this guy that found the 'Turkish Meat-Dish' in a 1737 Swedish cookbook.
Swedish meatballs, or köttbullar, must be prepared, above all, with love. This is why ‘Mom’s meatballs’ are a widespread concept in Sweden, and there are many different favourite recipes. Some people feel there should be grated onion in the meatball mixture itself, while others prefer to dice the onion and fry it separately. Some people feel that their meatballs should be served with thick brown gravy, while others prefer it with a thin meat juice. As part of a smorgasbord buffet, it is better to skip the gravy altogether. - Swedish Institute, sweden.se
It makes sense if you think about it. Every regional specialty is probably directly related to a food that came from somewhere else. As people migrated around the globe,and in this case conducted international diplomacy, they bough culinary traditions back and forth with them. They mixed and modified based on the availability of local ingredients, tastes and traditions.
Another bit of food trivia that involves Turkey (the country) concerns the turkey (the bird). Current theories suggest that the name of the North American bird enjoyed at Thanksgiving came from English traders that used the name because Turkish traders were selling guinea-fowl in Europe. The English misidentified turkeys as such and the name stuck.
So next time you're enjoying those delicious meatball at the potluck, you can think about the worldwide connection that the rolled beef and pork mixture represent.