Meatballs for the People is a restaurant on Södermalm. It’s an excellent concept. There’s a list of possible dishes (ramen, curry, traditional Swedish, risotto, etc) and a list of possible meatballs (wild boar, deer, lamb, moose, etc). You order a dish and select the type of meatballs. As simple as that.
We decided to eat at Meatballs for the People today as we wandered around the older and trendier bits of Södermalm. We took the usual two buses into Slussen and started from the station, heading up and round the cliff edge…though not before having the very important fika first.
This café serves a brilliant cardamom bun and, glory of glories, hazelnut syrup. As we sat and enjoyed our morning repast, Mirinda read out the history of Södermalm in order to prepare us for our exploration.
Södermalm means South Island and grew up as the population of Stockholm expanded in the 17th century. A bit of urban planning saw lots of little red wooden houses being built for, primarily, the working classes. That is until July 19, 1759 when the Great Stockholm Fire reduced a lot of them to ashes.
It was decided that houses should no longer be built out of wood and so bricks and mortar (and the ever present rocks) would become the building materials.
As the arrow of time dashed across the sky, so Söder gradually changed. Mostly from social reformers like Anna Lindhagen (1870-1941). A politician and suffragette, Anna looked at the living conditions of the poor workers on Söder and decided they lacked proper food. In 1906, along with Anna Åbergsson, she created the Association of Allotment Gardens in Stockholm, enabling the poor to, if nothing else, grow fresh vegetables.
Incidentally, the association is still active today. It’s had a few name changes but, essentially, it still serves the people who need it the most.
Anna’s sculpture looks out over Stockholm, next to the perfectly sited Fjällgatans Kaffestuga where, obviously, we stopped for a beer and cake. Well, I had a beer, Mirinda settled for a coffee. The wind was a bit bitey so we sat inside.
The café has been there since 1968 and boasts having the best view in Stockholm. I can’t dispute that. Perched on the edge of what amounts to a cliff, you look across the water to Gamla Stan, Skeppsholmen and Djurgården. I bet it’s well crowded in the Summer.
A lot more crowded than the smallest theatre in Europe which we walked passed at the beginning of Fjällgatan. The theatre, Dur and Moll, seats 20. I don’t know how big the performance space is but most of the performances are one performer telling the story of Stockholm. Obviously, it is temporarily closed as it would be very difficult to maintain social distancing in such a small space.
We had just come down Fjällgatan having visited Cornelis in his park.
Having discovered Cornelis Vreeswijk during our time away near Nora, we have become big fans. We’ve downloaded a lot of his songs and regularly play them over meals and just because, really. He was a most excellent troubadour. Having heard of his statue, we obviously had to visit it.
A highlight of the day, apart from Cornelis, obviously, was the Katarina Kyrka. Ironically, Cornelis is buried in the churchyard. I say ‘ironic’ because we didn’t know until we were back home. Obviously we’ll have to go back now.
Apart from the bodies in the churchyard, it’s a beautiful church which has been destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times.
Originally built in 1695, having taken almost 40 years because of a chronic shortage of funds, it burned down in 1723. It was rebuilt almost immediately. Then, in 1990, another fire gutted it, leaving only the exterior walls. It was rebuilt (again) this time taking five years.
According to Mirinda’s guidebook, they managed to find a load of builders who could use the same methods as the original church builders rather than using 20th century building technology. Because of this, it still retains a lot of the look and feel of the original baroque church.
Whatever the reason, it looks quite magnificent.
But, having visited a lot of Söder, we eventually stopped for our traditional linner at the aforementioned Meatballs for the People.
While we sat thoroughly enjoying our meatballs, mine was wild boar in ramen, two big groups decided to join us. Totalling 14 people, the waiter had a hard time evenly distributing them around the restaurant. Because you can’t have more than four sitting together at a table, he had them dotted all over the place.
This didn’t deter them as they intermingled, swapping chairs and tables, standing around chatting and, generally creating mayhem as the waiter busted the plague bubbles down to smaller and smaller groups. We couldn’t work out where the two groups came from. The common language was English but, when they weren’t talking to the waiter, they spoke another language I didn’t recognise.
It was great fun. And the food was fantastic. Brilliant idea, wonderfully realised.
The photo above was taken when we first arrived and we were sitting at a window seat. We eventually moved to the table where the women are. This was also taken well before the mayhem began.
All up, it was a marvellous day, though I shouldn’t forget the giant ice creams we had.
The ice cream parlour boasts that if you’re nice, they’ll give you extra large scoops. I’m afraid we were far too nice and were given a couple of litres of ice cream each. And the trouble is that the ice cream was fantastic, so you couldn’t not eat it and, unlike most food, it’s not like you can leave some for later. We solved the quandary by sitting outside and eating them.
I could go on, but I won’t. It was a great day. I’ll just leave this post with a photo of my wild boar meatball ramen.