ARLY THIS YEAR at New York’s Angelika Film Center I caught the best vampire picture I’ve seen since my all-time favorite, Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). It has little in common with Polanski’s movie—which, I’d like to point out, features a very red-headed Sharon Tate in various stages of dishabille—but Tomas Alfredson’s Låt Den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In) is a bizarre masterpiece that makes me never, ever want to visit Sweden. And something tells me Mr. Polanski would dig the prepubescent vampire at the center of this tale, even if she does tell the young hero, Oskar, that she is “not a girl.”
Click here to read a thoughtful review of the movie by a former colleague of mine. Not wanting to be responsible for any spoilers myself, I’ll stick to the food: Swedish meatballs. In stake sauce, you might say. If you were the Crypt Keeper.
As usual, I went with a crappy Internet recipe. (I’m hoping to take things in a more research- and labor-intensive direction after the hectic Hallowe’en season ends.) It promises that “[m]eatballs with this subtle spice flavor will disappear in minutes!,” which sounds a bit ESL to my ears, so I figure it might be authentic.
You start with a pound of ground beef and two slices of white bread. If you’ve got a food processor—I assume a blender would work almost as well—take the bread for a spin until crumby. Mash the beef and crumbs together with an egg, a half-cup of milk, and a spice mixture. The recipe’s blend of brown sugar, salt, pepper, ginger, ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon was quite tasty, but this part really demands a personal interpretation.
The recipe says to form this mess into twelve meatballs. Your meatballs would be roughly the size of baseballs if you did that. I recommend forming as many as you’d like, perhaps a variety of sizes, if you want to get zany in a Reader’s Digest kind of way. Fry the balls in vegetable oil deep enough to reach halfway up each one, a minute on each side for small balls, longer for bigger ones. They should be done when blood is bubbling out of them and they are deep brown but not, of course, black.
Prepare the sauce exactly as indicated in the recipe—it’s delicious. Serve on a bed of buttered egg noodles, with a side plate of rollmops, if you have better luck than I did finding appropriate herring fillets. Assuming you’ve already heard the Nokia ringtone, purchased a cutlery tray at IKEA, and/or received a Danecarlian horse in your Christmas stocking, you are now sufficiently versed in Swedish culture and should never think about it again. Stay tuned, because next we’re visiting a real country: THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS.