Meatballs Etc Blog

History of the Meatball

Monday, July 31, 2017

The meatball is a mysterious staple in food history, as no one really knows where and how the first meatball originated. The most commonly accepted theory is that meatballs come from Persia. In Persia, there is a food called “Kofta” which has many variations of preparation but essentially means, “pounded meat”. Based on their shape, ingredients and preparation, most trust this is where our traditional meatball derived.

 In the earliest of times, meatballs were made from leftover meat that was pounded, chopped finely, shredded by hand or prepared in a way that could be rolled into a small ball. Since most meatballs were made from leftover meat, it’s safe to assume that some of the earliest recipes have not been recorded as they were prepared for the common folk. In the 1800’s, the Oxford English Dictionary defined them as “any combination of raw or cooked meat shaped into balls.” With such a broad definition, all cultures had room to create their very own staple recipe. 

Some of the earliest records of meatballs are in countries along the trade routes. It seemed everyone had their own version but the dish was essentially the same. Because of this, meatballs tie nations together. The main difference were the ingredients used. Regions played a big part in the components. For instance, China had an abundance of pork and therefore made plenty of pork meatballs while early ambitious Roman eaters enjoyed peacock, pheasant and rabbit meatballs.

Like many other foods, the invention of a kitchen tool revived the traditional recipe and made meatballs exciting and sought after for all. Specifically what was critical for meatballs was the meat grinder. This gave chefs the opportunity to use fresh meat and really craft a meal from ingredients that diners today are so hungry for.

Nowadays there are a million ways to enjoy a meatball. Based on the type of dish you are craving one can have a meatball on a kebab, with pasta, in soup, on a sandwich, on top of a salad or just plain with a little bit of sauce. Not only can different meats and ingredients be used, but also cooking techniques vary just as much! Some prefer fried, while others prefer grilling, baking or a combination of multiple cooking techniques. Meatballs have grown so popular that almost every culture offers its own variety. 

Based on their humble roots, meatballs represent home and family. Because of the simple, affordable, versatile and delicious aspects- they also can be exciting and appealing to all. Generally Americans prefer the Italian version with ground meat, breadcrumbs and herbs rolled into a hearty sized ball and served with a typical red sauce.

Since meatballs are not constrained to a single traditional form of consumption, they can be appealing for any taste bud! Modern Americans love fresh, quick, delicious food and meatballs created 100 ways fit that mold perfectly. At Meatballs, Etc. we are able to offer multiple recipes with fresh ingredients giving all diners what they are craving at that moment. With a history of feeding generations and a million recipes available, it’s safe that say that meatballs aren’t going anywhere!