Swedish meatballs, popularized around the world by their association with the Scandinavian furniture giant Ikea, may not be from Sweden after all.
In a declaration that has shocked the country’s culinary aficionados, Sweden’s official Twitter account has suggested the dish may have originated in Turkey.
“Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century,” the tweet said. “Let’s stick to the facts!”
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! pic.twitter.com/JuTDEjq9MM
— Sweden.se (@swedense) April 28, 2018
The post has attracted hundreds of comments from Twitter users, who seem variously shocked, dismayed and amused — and staff at Sweden.se, the official source of information about the country, have diligently responded to many of them.
My whole life was a lie…
— William J (@William_1088) April 30, 2018
Don't be so hard on yourself! Time starts now!
— Sweden.se (@swedense) May 2, 2018
Others suggested ways for Sweden to atone.
“We are prepared to forget about this if you give us @Ibra_official,” wrote Ismail Unal, referring to world-famous Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
— Ismail Ünal (@ismail__unal89) May 2, 2018
Some have offered history lessons of their own, with users pointing out that Turkey did not yet exist as a nation in the reign of Charles XII and shedding light on other Swedish appropriations, including the Turkish word “kalabalik” (meaning “crowded” in Turkish and “chaos” in Swedish).
One user was simply grateful for the insight. “Thank you for bringing the fact! Much love from Turkey,” wrote Fatih The Observer.
Swedish meatballs are traditionally eaten with creamy brown sauce, mashed or boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam, a sweet condiment particularly popular in northern Europe and made from berries related to cranberries and blueberries.
King Charles XII took the throne in 1697 at age 15 and later spent several years in Bender (now Bendery in Moldova), which was under Turkish rule, before returning to Sweden in 1715 — allegedly with a recipe for meatballs.
Their global fame today can be ascribed partly to their ubiquitous presence on the food menu in Ikea superstores around the world.
The Swedish company now also offers a vegetarian version of the popular dish in many of its restaurants, launched in 2015 as part of an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and offer healthier food options.
Coffee beans and stuffed cabbage were also brought back to Sweden by Charles XII, according to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu.
Written by Judith Vonberg for CNN.
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