While I truly love “Fried Green Tomatoes,” starring Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker, I never visited Juliette, Georgia, where the movie was filmed in 1991. Juliette was refurbished to create the fictional town of Whistle Stop, with the focal point being the Whistle Stop Café.
Although the movie was released almost 25 years ago, its timelessness endures, attracting visitors to Juliette who are still charmed by the performances of the actors and the story that was based on the 1987 best-seller by Alabama-native Fannie Flagg. Among those visitors, are my brother Jim and my sister-in-law Donna, who reported having enjoyed “amazing” fried green tomatoes at the faithfully preserved Whistle Stop Café.
Rich with character and passion, the Whistle Stop story is also about Southern cuisine — and the simple pleasures of well-made fried green tomatoes. It’s worth knowing, however, that to make really good fried green tomatoes, you must use firm and just slightly tart ripened red tomatoes, not ripe green tomatoes, like green zebra tomatoes (they develop a golden strip when ripe), or heirloom varieties, such as Aunt Ruby’s German green tomatoes. (An heirloom variety tomato is one that has been open-pollinated and was introduced by seed companies before 1960, or whose seeds have been passed down for generations. Open-pollination is pollination that occurs by natural means, such as by insects, birds and humans.)
Although ripe green tomatoes can be very tasty and sweet, they are too soft to hold their coating or shape when fried. Save them for your salads, or for eating out of hand.
Between not having plans to get to Juliette soon and the big green apron Jim and Donna gifted me with from the Whistle Stop Café, I’ve been inspired to make my own fried green tomatoes. If you don’t have the time, or desire, to make fried green tomatoes now, hang on to the recipes. The tomato-growing season has just begun. Like tomatoes, the recipes here are heirloom quality — meant to be shared and passed on from generation to generation.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.