Lots of foods are, well, simply foods and nothing more. You eat them, you enjoy them, you wash your dish, done.
But other edibles reach the stratosphere of pop culture through sheer oomph. Meatballs wobble at the top of the oomph scale, and you don't need to search far for examples of why: There's the "Meatballs" movie franchise. Meatball costumes at Halloween. Meatball eating contests. Dogs named Meatball (typically of the English Bulldog type, it seems). Meatball balls, made for playing catch. And, yes, Meatball the Bear.
What of the meatball itself? It has its true-blue brigade, people who will argue about whether the ball should be loaded with bread crumbs or not, or heavily or lightly spiced.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Truly, every answer is a good answer, because meatballs have a knack for turning out deliciously. How could they not? They're typically hand-rolled, between two palms, and often with love.
National Meatball Day is upon us -- it's Sunday, March 9 -- and here's where you'll want to head for your savory, hearty fill.
La Dolce Vita: Spaghetti and veal meatballs are just about as quintessential as you can get, but then this Santa Monica Boulevard Italian eatery specializes in quintessence. It's going to mark its half century soon, so bet those meatballs have been rolled and rolled and rolled to perfection.
Gjelina: Braised pork meatballs? Okay, for sure, and since they come with parm, grilled bread, wine, and tomato, we're definitely on board. The beautiful Abbot Kinney outlet of delicious, fresh foodstuffs serves 'em via the small plate menu.
Buca di Beppo: The chainery has partnered with actress Sofia Vergara to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. A buck'll be donated for every spaghetti with meatballs, meatball app or side ordered, with a few asterisks. And you can lend a hand, or fork, through the end of March.