March 9 is a day to recognize one of our favorite food items: the meatball! Today, on National Meatball Day, we celebrate all the different ways you can make and eat a meatball!
From the classic spaghetti and meatballs, to beef ravioli or penne with meatballs, and a meatball sub or even you can create your own pizza or calzone with meatballs — there are so many delicious ways to gorge on meatballs at Sipipa.
Our homemade meatballs are made from beef and spices, egg and breadcrumbs, but you can also make meatballs out of turkey, lamb or even rice. We know of at least 50 different ways to make meatballs, and the variety of ways in which you can serve them are seemingly endless.
Meatballs can be found in almost every culture throughout the world, but the way they look or taste varied to accommodate different preferences, available ingredients and even religious traditions. They were an ideal food in times of scarcity, as mixing the meat with starch and vegetables was a good way to increase the “mass” of the meat and essentially feed more people.
And although most people may associate meatballs with Italian cuisine, spaghetti and meatballs is truly an American dish. (In Italy, pasta and meatballs were traditionally served separately.)
Meatballs Around the World
Throughout history, meatballs have been mentioned in culinary records. In Turkey, natives enjoy a dish called kofte, which has many different variations but usually includes ground meat, onions and spices shaped into balls and cooked. In China, meatballs date back to 221 BC, and ancient Romans ate balls of meat too.
Meatballs made it into Sweden in the mid-1700s, served with a cream-based gravy and buttered noodles — the expected accompaniment for what we now call Swedish meatballs. Interestingly, meatballs were originally considered a luxury item in Scandinavian countries and served mainly at festive occasions and holidays since beef was scarce in those regions and grinding meet was a laborious process.
In Afghanistan, meatballs are grilled and placed on top of pizza. Grecian meatballs are fried and include mint leaf. Polish “golabki” meatballs include rice and are the size of large oranges. They are served in steamed cabbage leaves and covered in tomato sauce.
Albania meatballs are often mixed with feta cheese. Many Japanese restaurants serve a hanbâgu, which is basically a larger, flatter meatball. Indonesians serve meatballs in a bowl with noodles, bean curd and eggs.
No matter how you prefer your meatballs, today is the day to celebrate by eating them!