Folk Recipe/Meal- Swedish Meatballs
My mom or my aunt cooks the dish, always reading off this torn apart little index card. My whole family, on my moms side, comes if we’re lucky. This also includes two aunts and uncles as well as my sister, brother in law, niece, and nephew. Its cooked every year for Christmas, and for special occasions, but Christmas is the big one. Its cooked because that is what my grandma did for my mom and uncles, and I suppose is what her mother and my fathers parents did. The meal is delicious; its always cooked right and reminds me of the past as well as connects me to my family. Its really special. There is one main special ingredient: criagpepper that has to be imported from Sweden and you have to smash the small balls into little pieces by putting it inside of a brown bag. The bag must be brown and we roll this pepper with a rolling pin until it is fine. It is a long process, but it is definitely worth it.
This meal of Swedish Meatball along with its preparation has a special meaning to Catherine. She said she loves how it brings the family together each year. She also stated that her grandmother really stresses the importance of being Swedish. She isnt so sure why her grandmother is so meticulous about following the exact same steps each year, but she thinks it is just tradition and habit. Catherine also told me that this is her favorite meal in the world. Supposedly, nothing is better than these meatballs. She even said, Matt, I am telling you, these are the best things you will ever have. You need to try them.
I think Catherines grandmother prepares this meal thinking more about family than food. I believe she wants family to come together each year and remember their Swedish roots. The fact that they still import this pepper from Sweden makes the meal authentic and connects Catherine with her original heritage. This meal gives the family a sense of identity and togetherness that they normally do not feel.
The last thing to note is when this meal is prepared. Catherine said her family only makes it on Christmas and rare special occasions. This tells you the importance of the dish. Even though it is Catherines favorite meal, her grandmother refuses to make it unless the occasion deserves it. This makes the meatballs even more special. Catherine told me that she would want them everyday, but I think she will realize as she grows older that her grandmother has a method to her madness.