Meatballs anyone? Most people love em!
It’s the traditional start to the Sunday dinner in most Italian families, served hot with fresh mozzarella cheese, crisp Italian bread and fried hot green peppers (the long ones). Whether they’re fresh from the pot, or just gracing a heap of spaghetti, nothing beats a meatball.
Here’s an amazing fact about creating meatballs: Give ten individuals the exact same basic recipe and each batch will turn out differently. Go figure…
No one really knows the true origin of this meatball but in an 2003 article entitled”Ask the Chef” John Piso explains it this way:
“Meatballs originated in a Italian’s kitchen when she found that she had some ground beef . Hamburger meat was popularized in the turn of the last century, so it makes sense to assume that meatballs started then, as did meat loaf. I could just find some nice Italian housewife prepared to make a tomato sauce and find some left over ground meat in her ice-a -box-a. Always having eggs, parsley, garlic, cheese, and bread round, she must have felt a surge of lightning that struck her with this thought. Ground meat, garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, and some beaten egg to hold it all together. Fry it in oil; drop it in the sauce and Bingo! Two courses in one pot – pure genius!”
The “Christopher Columbus” question about meatballs is… Why are meatballs round?
The answer: Meatballs aren’t always round. In Italy the meatball is called polpette and they are oval. Polpette are also frequently served out of tomato sauce.
In fact, if meatballs were flat, they would be burgers and they’d break in tomato sauce. Hand size can be a variable. Big hand, big meatball, little hand, little meatball.
Wikipedia, The Free Online Encyclopedia, describes a meatball as “a generally spherical mass of minced meat and other ingredients, such as bread or breadcrumbs, minced onion, various spices or eggs, usually fried in a pan or baked in an oven. Except for shape and size (there’s usually more than one meatball per serving), meatballs are extremely much like meatloaf.”
A meatball is simply similar to a meatloaf because of the ingredients that cement it togther. Austin Wildlife Removal is a classic American dish, made in a loaf form, sometimes stuffed, sliced and covered in brown gravy. A meatball is the stuff that dreams are made of because there is a nostagia factor attached to it: Many remember sleeping in on Sunday morning and stirring into the most delicious smell and noise on earth – meatballs sizzling in a frying pan. It’s always so hard to resist grabbing one. Can’t get that impression from a meatloaf!
The answer is Yes, because one ingredient stays constant: Ground meat. The ancient Roman cook-book author Apicius contained many meat ball-type recipes:
o Albanian fried meatballs include feta cheese.
O Danish meatballs are known as frikadeller and are typically fried, and they are usually made from pork.
O In Germany, meatballs are called Frikadellen (from the North) or Buletten (in the East) or Fleischpflanzerl or Fleischkuumlchle if you happen to be in the South
O In Greece, meatballs are known as’keftedes’ and usually include within the mix onions and mint leaf.
Outside of Italy, they are commonly served with spaghetti as in”spaghetti and meatballs”.
O The Japanese hamburger steak hanbagu is based on similar ingredients.
O In Norway, meatballs are called kjoslashttkaker (“meat cakes”) and resemble Danish frikadeller, but they’re usually made from ground beef. The dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, gravy, lingonberry jam or stewed green peas. Some people also like to add fried/caramelized onion on the side.
O Swedish (Swedish meatballs) are made with ground beef or a mix of ground beef and pork, mixed with breadcrumbs soaked in milk and finely chopped onions. They’re seasoned with white pepper and salt. (From the television show Babylon 5 all alien races have swedish meatballs, although with different titles )
O Turkish cuisine features more than 80 kinds of meatballs (koumlfte), most being regionally made.
The meatball is so well loved that we even sing about it. Check out the American classic”On top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer which comes with a wayward meatball. For decades he had a chorus of children singing lines such as:
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor,
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.
And then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.
The mush was as tasty as tasty could be,
And early next summer it grew to a tree.
The tree was all covered with beautiful moss.
It grew great big meatballs and tomato sauce.
So if you eat spaghetti all covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball and do not ever sneeze.
One last thing… It is not very nice to call someone a”Meatball”. The American Heritage; Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines calling somebody a meatball the same as calling them dull or dumb. So if you must use mention of food on your name-calling endeavors, I’d advise you to call’em a”Meatloaf!”