Spices for healthy living

Where are my Swedish Meatballs?

As we approach Christmas, vivid memories of the past start to creep into my thoughts, and I’m sure yours too.  The sights, sounds, and smells of everything we’ve ever experienced at Christmas time are all stored somewhere deep in our heads waiting to emerge during the season.

For me, it’s the sight and smell of my mother’s Swedish Meatballs covered in milk gravy being taken fresh out of the oven and placed carefully on the smorgasbord table just between the pickled herring, boiled potatoes, and Christmas ham.  My mother was only second generation in the U.S. with her father (my grandfather) emigrating from Sweden to Minnesota in 1892.  He never learned much English (why bother if you spend most of your time fishing?), so it was an odd mixture of Swedish, German (my grandmother’s native tongue) and English, that was brought home from school with the kids, that was spoken at home. 

According to my mother, at every Christmas dinner my grandfather would call out in Swedish, “Var mina köttbullar?” (where are my meatballs?)  And grandma would respond in German as part of the ritual,  ”Noch nicht fertig!” (not ready yet!)  It’s a wonder they ever got together long enough to have nine kids! 

So I was shocked to read this past week that “Swedish” meatballs are actually “Turkish” meatballs! (Turkish was never spoken in my grandparent’s home, as far as I know.)  Apparently, the Swedish government out of some guilt and wanting to finally set the record straight confessed, on Twitter of course, that their famous “Swedish” meatballs originate in Turkey and were appropriated by Swedish King Charlie (the name of my grandfather’s brother by the way) in the 18th century while he was visiting the Sultan of the Turkish Ottoman empire. 

So grandpa, where are your Swedish meatballs?  They’re in Turkey. 

Turkish meatballs are called “Kofta” and are usually made of minced lamb instead of the pork or beef found in Swedish meatballs.  They are served with fresh yogurt and are characterized by their spices that give them their unique taste, all of which are available on the Spice Your Life website.  Try some of these and celebrate a real “Turkish Christmas.”

  • 1 pound of ground beef or lamb
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves if garlic
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin, sumac, coriander, and smoked sweet paprika