Make Swedish meatballs and speak Swedish

“They’re just called meatballs in Swedish,” my wife told me, after I asked her how to say Swedish meatballs in Swedish.

That was just one of the thousands of dumb American moments I’ve had since living abroad. I think my wife still loves me though, otherwise she would never continue to make this classic Swedish comfort food for me. I also think she thinks it’s cute when I speak Swedish (My accent is brutal).

At the risk of getting on the bad side of my mother, I have to admit that she also made Swedish meatballs when we were growing up. She, however, covered the meatballs with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Don’t get me wrong, they were good, but they weren’t Swedish meatballs.

The video and recipe that follows is the real deal, plus you’ll get to learn Swedish.

5 essential Swedish words

zlatanThe following five Swedish words will teach you about Swedish culture and help you learn Swedish.

Jantelagen — the literal translation is Jante law. If you follow the rules of Jantelagen, you are never supposed think you’re anything special. Don’t stick out in a crowd. The concept is similar to small poppy syndrome. How do you embarass a Swede? Tell them they’re good at something. Nine times out of ten they’ll blush and say, “Nejjjjj!” That’s janteglagen.

Lagom means just the right amount. Excess is frowned upon in traditional Swedish culture. In a way, lagom is related to Jantelagen. Here’s an example: My inlaws dislike Sweden’s best soccer play, Zlatan Ibrahamovic because he is “too flashy” and generally just too much, too good, too loud, and too cocky. There’s a typical Swedish phrase that describes this mentality perfectly — “Lagom is best.” Read More