Some dishes have their day in the sun, popular on menus and with the home cook, and then they fade from our tables, both restaurant and dining room. Periodically they are rediscovered or revamped. They can also lie fallow in the great cookbook graveyard out by the old stew pots.
Swedish meatballs used to be a staple of every buffet, and the buffet did not have to be a smorgasbord to offer them. Either they tasted fantastic and or they tasted pedestrian.
"How are the meatballs?" "O.K."
In the company cafeteria of the corporation where I worked, "O.K." was never an enthusiastic response. It translated to "I've had better,but this is at least edible." Hardly a rave.
Last night we cooked Swedish Meatballs from recipe 2 of 3 in the New York Times International Cookbook (Sweden), a tome dating back to the 70's when international foods were popular, but could all be crammed into one book, except maybe French. Now we have cookbooks for every cuisine from Afghan to Zambesi, and no one would have the hubris to produce an international cookbook covering the world. Long live Craig Claiborn, editor of the International Cook Book!
The meatballs tasted alarmingly good, so good that I wanted to seconds, hell, I wanted thirds. Served them with narrow noodles and the world's best red cabbage, also in the International Cookbook, (France). Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage. This recipe redefines red cabbage. I had thirds and wanted fourths. Oink. That yummy. I don't even know what makes it taste so special except for long cooking and a skidload of freshly ground nutmeg. And butter, of course, real butter. Surely you wouldn't use anything else? Ick. And a few raisins which a few people protest if they know about them, otherwise they scarf it down.
Coq au Vin, and Boeuf Bourgignon had the same fate as Swedish Meatballs. Beef Stoganoff suffered a similiar destiny. Now we have farm raised salmon fixed 16 digusting ways and 4 good ways. I have to confess I don't like fish with fruit. And while I'm complaining, whatever happened to Chicken Pot Pie with a real homemade pie crust instead of frozen puff pastry. Meat pie? Pot Roast? Have to make it yourself nowadays. Sucking it up again. Damn!
Tonight we eat leftovers. Lustily. Lots of meatballs, adequate noodles, and not quite enough red cabbage, so I'll serve a salad with my homemade poppyseed dressing and cook a few green beans.
Remember the good old foods, not the large lime jello with blobs of fruit or the Campbells Soup Casserole but the real food of yore. Chicken Kiev? When's the last time you ate Chicken Kiev?
On a wave of food nostalia,