For Jeanne Krull of Westbrook, making meatballs—thousands and thousands of them—was how she shaped the life she wanted, where she wanted. She was 50, single, an experienced caterer living in New Jersey, and about to send her youngest son to the University of Maine at Orono, when inspiration struck. She’d jump into Southern Maine’s food truck scene.
“Nobody was doing meatballs,” Krull says. “And they’re comfort food. Everybody has spaghetti and meatballs growing up, right?”
Fast-forward a couple years, and Maine-ly Meatballs is in high demand, serving up hand crafted balls an average of four days a week at festivals, concerts and other outdoor events from Kittery to Freeport.
Though it all started with classic Italian meatballs with marinara—always a favorite, especially with kids—the options include Asian, Greek or Swedish meatballs. She’s got lentil-based balls for gluten-free vegans. And she’s always rolling out something creative, like barbecue balls with raspberry chipotle sauce. Her personal favorite is the Buffalo chicken balls with blue cheese sauce.
For one big event, like Beer Advocate’s Beer Meets Wood at the Portland Company Complex on Sept. 23, Krull will make 1,500 to 2,000 meatballs. She figures she can’t have too many cheeseburger balls to go with all that beer.
“Whatever event I do, people are happy,” she says. “I am surrounded by laughter and love all the time. They’re eating, they’re drinking and it’s fun. Even if you’re having a bad day, once you get to the event and get going you’re having a good day.”
Krull has a sense of humor—a damn good trait for a woman who sells dishes of balls at beer festivals. When anyone waxes too philosophical about their mother’s or grandmother’s meatballs, Krull has been known to say, “These ain’t yo’ mama’s meatballs, and I ain’t yo’ mama.”
It’s a safe bet that, even in Maine, most mamas’ meatball repertoires don’t include lobster balls. “Being in Maine, you need to have something lobster,” Krull says. “They’re like the consistency of a crab cake, made with local Maine lobster and locally sourced Maine seaweed, and served with a lemon cream sauce.”
A meatball truck, Krull says, turned out to be the vehicle that could take her where she wanted to go—developing her own recipes, setting her own schedule and making hungry people at fun events just that much happier.
“It’s given me freedom to really build a life the way I want it, without being stuck in a 9-to-5 job,” Krull said. “I love people, I love food and I love what I do.”
TRY THOSE MEATBALLS!
Find out where Maine-ly Meatballs will be next at www.mainelymeatballs.com.
Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and editor from Scarborough who once edited more than 500 meatball recipes for The Meatball Cookbook Bible.