If you’ve ever read any of our food history blogs before, you know that a good number of the world’s most popular foods have cloudy origins at best. Plenty of people try to take credit for them, but we don’t know who really invented them. One of these foods is a staple of Italian cooking that we know well: meatballs! There are two main issues that surround meatballs: their true origins and the variations of them. So, is there a concrete answer to either of these questions? We dive into the mystery below!
Exploring The Origin
In order to answer the question of if meatballs are truly Italian, we need to take a look at the precise origins of them. Many places will claim that meatballs originated in Italy, while others say that they were an American creation. The answer to this question is actually neither! The earliest known origins of meatballs can be traced back to ancient Rome, with several meatball-like recipes originating in a very old cookbook. Other variations began popping up in China at around 200 BC, and they didn’t appear in the United States until the mid 1800’s! Depending on what type of meatballs you eat, the origins will be vastly different.
The variations of meatballs are actually more than you might think! You probably know the three main types: Italian, American and Swedish meatballs are the most famous ones. But, did you know that there are dozens of variations across Europe and Asia? If you can name a country there, there’s a good chance that they have their own version of the recipe.
With regards to the “big three”, the main difference between them is the way they are prepared. American meatballs are the biggest in size, with Italian and Swedish meatballs following on the depth chart. Italian meatballs call for seasonings like grated parmesan and oregano, while Swedish ones use seasonings like nutmeg and allspice. While it doesn’t sound like a huge distinction, you’ll notice it in the taste!
Meatballs at Assaggio
So, are meatballs really Italian? It depends on who you ask! If you’re looking for the best Italian meatballs out there, you’ll find them at Assaggio. We carry a hearty selection of Italian cuisines on our menu, and some are created with the Italian meatballs you know and love. We also sport an extensive wine and cocktail list to wash everything down! For an authentic Italian experience in Boston’s North End, make a reservation with us today.