Meatball Mamas from Around the World

Photo by Flickr/gavinr

This entry is one of our Mother’s Day contest winners. We asked readers for their favorite food memory about mom.

By Denny Fernald

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate not only our own mothers and grandmothers, but all the Moms in our lives, including our own daughters, and daughter in law, the mothers of our grandchildren. Even all the other Moms in our extended family.

Our blended family is blessed with a richly diverse group of at least three generations of Moms that have roots from around the world. When our family gathers for a holiday meal, it is like pot luck at the United Nations.

My fondest food memories are of my Mom’s Swedish meatballs. We had no Swedish ancestors, but she was a great cook of all things.  She used the Fanny Farmer Cook Book (from The Boston Cooking School, my home town).  I still use that book frequently to re-create her best dishes.  I have successfully duplicated her Swedish meatballs with healthier ground turkey.  Those meatballs still evoke wonderful taste bud memories, immediately transporting me back 60 plus years to my Mom’s loving table.  That’s real comfort food.

Surprisingly, meatballs are prominent in many of the comfort foods of our family.

My wife’s Mom, Grandma A. (who grew up in Brooklyn with parents from Naples and Sicily), makes the world’s best Italian meatballs.  The Neapolitan secret is starting the meatballs raw in the “gravy”, i.e., the red sauce.

My wife makes a fine spinach broth with egg/parmesan balls, that honors her Italian roots. All the children, even the vegetarians, love it.

Our vegetarian daughter, in Greensboro, Mom to one, makes great Middle Eastern falafel balls from chick pea flour.

Our daughter in Pittsburgh, Mom of three (grand) daughters, has perfected the local favorite Italian Wedding Soup with tiny little meatballs she purchases around the corner at the tiny little Italian grocery in their neighborhood.

Pierogies. Photo by Flickr/Kitchen Wench

Our daughter in Queens, NYC, Mom to our one grandson, makes matzo balls and gefilte fish balls from her Jewish grandmother.

Our daughter-in-law in Delaware has pierogies – wrapped Polish meatballs–from “Barcia”—the Polish name for the other grandma of our granddaughter.

Then there’s our son-in law’s Mom from the Philippines, who can do wonderful won ton balls.

Our niece has mastered the little Asian dumplings of her mother-in-law from Korea.

Ugali (corn meal mush formed into little balls with your fingers at the table) is a favorite of our granddaughter whose other grandmother is from Kenya.

Mother’s Day is an American holiday, but we celebrate all the mothers of our lives, domestic and international, and how they have nurtured us with food from each the corner of the Earth with every class of meatball!

Other Mother’s Day contest winners:

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