It’s Winter, a New Year, and uncertain times, and with that convergence, we all need some hygge right now. You might have heard or seen this Danish word: Hygge is making a splash beyond its Nordic borders – a catchy, albeit linguistically challenging word, pronounced “WHO-geh.” Its meaning transcends borders, articulating an intrinsic notion of comfort, warmth and coziness. It’s not so much an object as it is a state of being. Hygge (or its adjective hyggelig) can refer to a gathering, a meal, a conversation, or simply a collective moment, enhanced by good will and simple yet pleasurable things such as flickering candles, fleecy blankets, a cup of tea, an uplifting conversation, or delicious food. Hygge is nondenominational, nonjudgemental, undemanding, and egalitarian. No wonder it’s the It-Girl of words these days. We all need a dose of it.
Which brings me to meatballs.
If there is any food group that evokes inter-generational and international comfort, it’s meatballs. Not only do they simply taste great, meatballs are in nearly every cuisine and enjoyed by children and adults alike. Your mother likely made meatballs and so did her mother. As with many rustic cuisines, meatballs are an economical means to stretch inexpensive cuts of meat (and beans, legumes, and grains for that matter), by jumbling the ingredients together with herbs and spices, and braising them in rich and robust sauces and stews, ladling them over noodles, swiping them in dipping sauces, and piling them into double-fisted sandwiches. There is a recipe for everyone and every preference, and bets are that you’ve been nibbling on meatballs since you were old enough to wrap your fingers around them. So, while I cannot light you a fire and or knit you mittens, I can at least share a few meatball recipes with you, and wish you a hyggelig meal.