LONDON – Sweden, land of Ikea and social welfare, has something to tell the world — news that could shock the palate.
Swedish meatballs, the signature national dish, are really Turkish.
The country's national Twitter account made the announcement this week.
"Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century," the tweet said. "Let's stick to the facts!"
It was not immediately clear why Sweden decided that now was the right time to set the record straight, but the admission created a storm of reaction.
Turks rejoiced. Some Swedes were dismayed. And the revelation set off some good-natured ribbing between the two countries.
"My whole life has been a lie," one Swede lamented on Twitter.
Some Turks urged Sweden to change the name of its meatballs to the Turkish name, "kofte."
Turkish media called the Swedish tweet a "confession" and suggested that Charles, who reigned from 1697 to 1718 and spent some years in exile in the Ottoman Empire early in the 18th century, took other Turkish products back to Sweden, including coffee beans and stuffed cabbage.
Sweden's Twitter account, apparently not wanting to start a culinary war, responded somewhat neutrally:
"Mind you, we love coffee even more than meatballs! At one point, we even had a coffee prohibition in Sweden!"
But it also seized the opportunity to highlight some of the country's inventions. (Behold, the three-point seat belt.)
The private Turkish news agency Dogan went to the northwestern city of Inegol, which is famous for its meatballs, to get reaction to the Swedish announcement.
Ibrahim Veysel, a chef at a local meatball restaurant, exulted, "It is an honor that these tastes have become an example to different cuisines all over the world."
Two million meatballs are consumed there around the globe each day.
Turkish meatballs are distinct from Swedish meatballs in some ways. The former are made with a combination of ground beef, ground lamb, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs and parsley. The current version of Swedish meatballs can sometimes contain pork and is usually served with gravy.