Sweden has issued a big culinary apology to the world.
Turns out one of the country’s claims to fame — those delicately seasoned Swedish meatballs smothered in a rich gravy — may not be Swedish after all.
Their origin is Turkey, the Swedes have confessed on the country’s Twitter account, Sweden.se: “Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century. Let’s stick to the facts!”
Actually, Sweden was just following a grand tradition: Take a food from another country and put your stamp on it, so to speak. The all-American hamburger arrived here courtesy of German immigrants. And Italy’s famed spaghetti reportedly was invented in China and brought to Venice by explorer Marco Polo.
Still, Sweden’s admission prompted a flurry of questions and a lively debate.
“But lingonberries are still Swedish, right?” @WillietheGeek asked.
The country replied: “They don’t grow in Sweden exclusively. But lingonberry jam accompanying meatballs is damn near as Swedish as it gets!”
“What else has King Charles XII brought from Turkey?” a follower named Fuad Balakishiyev tweeted.
The country replied: “Stuffed cabbage (kåldolmar) and coffee! … Mind you we love coffee even more than meatballs!”
The Twitter debate quickly devolved into nasty exchanges about fake news, heritage and cultural appropriation, with many commenters noting that they’ve seen Swedish meatball recipes dating back to the 16th century.
In the end, a Twitter follower named Eric Lassuri said it best:
“Perhaps pinpointing the exact origin of the meatball is less significant than acknowledging its global popularity. Nearly every major culture has its own version of the meatball.”
And yes, all this talk of meatballs makes us hungry. Who’s up for lunch at Ikea?
Sweden’s startling confession about Swedish meatballs