Okay, so let me set this up by saying that I grew up in a Jewish/Italian family. That’s right, we were called “Jew-Wops” growing up and quite frankly I always took it as a compliment because it meant two different December holidays, two different sets of gifts, as well as two different great forms of culinary traditions.
My mom was always a fantastic cook when it came to both Italian and Jewish food. Her spaghetti and meatballs (we called it sauce with meatballs) were to die for and I made sure that when I got married and started a family of my own that my wife learned how to make her sauce and meatballs, as well as chicken soup and matzoh balls. I will say that over the years my wife has been slowly changing the ground meat in her meat balls into ground turkey (a mortal sin according to most Italians) because she say’s it’s healthier. Frankly, I can no longer eat my mom’s meatballs because I like my wife’s turkey/lamb, with a touch of ground beef, ones so much better. (Had my wife told me what she was doing all along, I never would have gone for it and probably would have complained how much worse they where than my mother’s).
That’s right, we always had the best of both worlds! We could have lasagna, chicken parmesan, baked ziti or veal parmesan on one night and then brisket, corned beef and pastrami, chicken matzoh ball soup, potato pancakes (latkes) or other Jewish delicacies like Gefilte fish the next night.
The debate comes into play when you talk about the consistency or hardness of the balls. When it comes to matzoh balls, I grew up liking them hard and not soft, but now that I’m older I seem to prefer the matzoh balls soft and not hard (according to a doctor friend of mine that makes for much better digestion).
When it comes to meatballs that’s an entirely different story for me. It’s hard balls all the way. You really don’t want to have soft or mushy meatballs rolling around in your mouth. It brings you back to that old children’s song, “On Top Of Spaghetti All Covered With Cheese.” If you think about that song, the meatball winds up “rolling into the garden and under a bush and then the poor meatball was nothing but mush.” Mushy meatballs are gross and feel under cooked!
In my household, the rule of thumb is that matzoh balls are a lot like softballs: they’re bigger and softer than baseballs. Meatballs are a lot like a baseball: they’re smaller and harder and could actually do some damage if you threw it at a person across the dinner table (just ask my wife).
I’m sure there are other comparisons with other food groups (rice balls, boudin balls, etc.) where the consistency definitely makes a difference in your desire to eat more. If you have any ideas or feedback when it comes to the consistency and hardness of the balls you put in your mouth please feel free to join the community forum or email me directly. I’d love to hear your thoughts!