Sometimes you learn something shocking that totally turns your world upside down. The Earth revolves around the sun. Kanye West supports Donald Trump. And Swedish meatballs aren't from Sweden.
When you think of Sweden, you think of IKEA, ABBA, vikings, beautiful blue-eyed blondes, Pippi Longstocking, cans of putrid fish (aka surströmming) and of course, meatballs. Everyone who visits Sweden orders meatballs at some point. I mean, the Swedish Chef on Sesame Street makes them all the time! Bork, bork, bork!
However, Sweden's official Twitter account issued a correction, writing, "Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe from King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century. Let's stick to the facts!"
The revelation shocked everybody on Twitter, who had grown up thinking meatballs were Sweden's signature dish. I mean, they even serve them in IKEA cafeterias! However, the tweet is correct, confirming a rumor that has been around for a while.
The Turkish meatball dish, known as Akcaabat, inspired similar versions all over the world. The differences are minor. In the original Turkish dish, the meatballs are flat and disc-shaped, made of ground veal and lamb, as well as salt and onion, smothered in a thick gravy.
Meanwhile, Swedish meatballs, called Kottbullar, are shaped like balls - stop giggling - made of ground beef and pork (or veal and venison), as well as butter, cream and lingonberry sauce, smothered in a thick gravy.
If you want to keep talking about balls, I could talk about balls all day. (Stop giggling!) In the Spanish version, known as albondigas, small, spicy meatballs are served in a flavorful broth. In the Greek version, known as keftedes, tiny meatballs made of beef, lamb, and mint are served with the yogurt-and-cucumber based tzatziki sauce. And in the Russian version, a bunch of rocks are served in a bucket of vodka. Just kidding. I have no idea what Russia does. But I'm sure their cuisine is excellent.
Sweden's announcement led to some amusing reactions on Twitter. One Swede wailed, "My whole life has been a lie!" The Turkish media appreciated the "confession," and suggested that King Charles XII smuggled other products to Sweden, like coffee beans. To this accusation, Sweden's Twitter account responded cheerfully, "Mind you, we love coffee even more than meatballs! At one point, we even had a coffee prohibition in Sweden!"
Since we live in a bubble, we often forget that a country's staple dish can have foreign origins. I wonder if this news will have ramifications. According to IKEA's website, they serve two million people at cafeterias worldwide, every day. Will they have to change their food to an actual Swedish dish? If they switch to surströmming, that would be bad for business, because once they crack the can open, that intolerable stench will clear the room. And store. And possibly city. (It's that bad.)
Well, my world will never be the same, that's for sure. What's next? Will we find out France didn't invent the croissant, and that it's really from Austria? Oh, wait what? That's true? Really?! Wow.