swedish meatballs turkey
Fudio / istockphoto.com

Sweden Admits Swedish Meatballs Originated in Turkey, and the Internet Is Astonished

And while the Swedish Chef is probably great at cooking them, he might actually be Norwegian
swedish meatballs turkey
Fudio / istockphoto.com

Swedish meatballs are from... Turkey?

Sweden’s official Twitter account (run by the Swedish Institute “and a moose,” according to its profile) sent shockwaves through the Twittersphere on April 28 by dropping this massive bomb: “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!”

For those of you who only eat meatballs the Italian way, the Swedish variety — or köttbullar — switches out the red sauce for brown gravy. In Sweden, this beloved dish is typically served with lingonberry jam.

King Charles XII reigned over Sweden from 1697 until his death in 1718. After a military defeat in Russia, he was exiled to Turkey — then known as the Ottoman Empire — from 1709 until 1714. According to culinary blog 196 Flavors, köttbullar first appeared in Swedish print 41 years after the king’s return in a book written by famous cookbook author Cajsa Warg. It’s unclear whether or not the king’s secret recipe was uncovered — but apparently “Swedish” meatballs may have been misbranded.

 “My whole life was a lie…,” @William_1088 wrote.

“This is exactly how I felt when I turned 15 and my parents told me there was no such thing as santa,” @ken_hjelm admitted. He also hashtagged, “devastated.”

Some refuse to believe the news.

“The next thing you’ll tell me is pizza isn’t Italian and fortune cookies aren’t Chinese,” @zypldot predicted.

(We’re not sure if @zypldot meant this as a joke, but fortune cookies are definitely not Chinese.)

Others took the opportunity to educate the internet about what else the king brought back to Mother Svea.

“Also roasted coffee and cabbage rolls (kåldolmar) was brought to Sweden from Turkey by King Charles XII,” @NerudaGungoren said.

And somebody was so inspired they invited the account-holder to a barbecue to drink raki, an unsweetened alcoholic drink popular in Albania, Greece, Iran, and Turkic and Balkan countries.

Perhaps the craziest comment of them all comes from a woman named Carol, who said this: “Yes, and I’ve also been told that the Swedish Chef might actually be Norwegian! Scandalous…”

Jim Henson, care to explain? Bork bork bork. Rumor has it the Muppets character was inspired by real-life chefs Friedman Paul Erhardt from Germany and Lars “Kuprik” Bäckman from Sweden, but Swedes think the puppet’s nonsense mock-language rings more Norwegian, according to Slate.

If you don’t care about where your meatballs come from and you just want them in and around your mouth, here’s where the find the very best ones at restaurants across the United States.

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