You know a book or a movie is written with love when it makes your mouth water for food that isn’t otherwise appealing. Fried green tomatoes shouldn’t sound delicious, yet here we are.
The film “Fried Green Tomatoes,” set in Alabama, has been my daughter’s go-to, comforting, sick-bed movie for a few years. She read the book, then I read the book, and although they’re very different from each other, it all jibes because the feeling you get from both is the same. Love and food make the world go round.
Because a good portion of the story takes place at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Southern cooking steals the show when you’re not crying your eyes out with love and injustice.
For example, I know from personal experience that fried green tomatoes are only delicious because they’re fried, salted and dipped in mayonnaise, just like any other fried food would be delicious. I know honeycomb is waxy and not yummy, but sure enough, reading about honey with the comb sure made me want to get my hands on some.
The real kicker is that the book made me want barbecue, even though it’s made pretty clear that a bad guy was disappeared through this crowd-pleaser of a cooking method. And I don’t even love barbecue. Maybe that means I lean toward cannibalism? Either way, that’s some powerful writing.
Both the book and the film made me want to be sweating in an Alabama cafe eating barbecue with pie for dessert and washing it all down with grape soda in a glass bottle.
The following recipes are in the back of the book. They read like the ones from your grandma’s recipe box, so expect to use some interpretation.
Recipes from Fannie Flagg’s novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”
Fried green tomatoes with milk gravy
3 tablespoons bacon fat
4 firm green tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
Heat your bacon fat in a heavy frying pan. Dip tomatoes in eggs, then in breadcrumbs. Slowly fry then in the bacon fat until golden brown on both sides. Put your tomatoes on a plate.
For each tablespoon of fat left in the pan, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and blend well; then stir in 1 cup warm milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Add salt and pepper till you like it. Pour over the tomatoes and serve hot. The best there is.
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted bacon fat
Dissolve soda in buttermilk. Mix the cornmeal with salt, egg and buttermilk. Add hot, melted bacon fat. Pour into greased iron skillet and bake at 375 degrees until done. So good it will kill you.
Fried ham with red-eye gravy
Slice ham about 1/4 inch thick.
Cook slowly in a heavy frying pan until evenly browned on both sides. Sprinkle each side lightly with sugar during cooking.
Remove the ham from the pan and keep it warm. Add about 1/2 cup of cold water or a cup of coffee to the pan. Let it boil until gravy turns red. Blend and pour over the ham. Good eats.