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Meatballs are one of Sweden’s best known traditional foods — although we celebrate them in North America too, with National Meatball Day, every year on March 9.

Swedish meatballs.

Swedish meatballs at Tant Bruns Kaffestuga, or Auntie Brown’s Cafe, in Sigtuna, Sweden

When I visited Sweden, I was lucky enough to sample Swedish meatballs at the centuries old Tant Bruns Kaffestuga, or Auntie Brown’s Cafe. Check out my visit to the Cafe in Sigtuna, Sweden’s first town, in my post, Meet Vikings in Sigtuna: Viking Runes to Viking Ruins.

Traditionally, Swedish meatballs contain ground meat (often pork), minced onion, and bread or rusk crumbs soaked in milk to create the soft consistency associated with the dish.

While there are many different recipes for Swedish meatballs, most agree they must be served with a specific type of berry. What kind of berry is it? [Check your answer by clicking on the tab above.]

In Sweden, the meatballs are served with lingonberries on the side. What are they? They’re a member of the blueberry and cranberry (Ericaceae) plant family and are native to the Arctic and Subarctic areas of the world.

Lingonberries photo from Pixabay - Reprinted with a Creative Commons license.

Lingonberries photo from Pixabay – Reprinted with a Creative Commons license.

If you remember the 1960s (and I do — quite well in fact!), you likely remember the song, On Top of Spaghetti, sung to the tune of On Top of Old Smoky. Here’s an animation of the meatball part of the story.

The online Etymology Dictionary gives the first usage of the noun, meatball, as 1801. So, I thought I’d check through some cookbooks from Project Gutenberg to see what historic recipes I could find with meatballs.