Fried green tomatoes are a treat well known here in the South, where they have been loved for a very long time. In fact, fried green tomatoes are a delightful southern treat. If you don’t make them yourself at home, you’ll be happy to know they are on the menus of a few restaurants around the Savannah area. You might find them as a popular side or offered as an off-the-menu seasonal special that’s prepared in a delicious, flavorful way.
If you’re wondering what they are, fried green tomatoes consist of slices of unripe green tomatoes dipped usually in eggs, but sometimes in buttermilk or a mixture of milk and eggs, and then dredged in cornmeal or flour, or a mix of the two. Then they are, as the name plainly suggests, pan-fried in oil until crisp.
Here in Savannah, we prefer locally grown tomatoes, usually from the abundant availability at one of our local Farmers Markets. (we also love them on tomato sandwiches, but that’s another story)
Many people first learned about this delectable Southern treat from the novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” written by Fannie Flagg, or the popular movie that was made based on the book.
But the fried treats likely didn’t start off as a Southern food. In fact, you will be quite surprised to find out that they probably have Jewish origins.
Fried green tomatoes hit the American culinary scene in the Northeastern and Midwestern parts of the country, and recipes were found in Jewish cookbooks as early as the late 1800s, according to Robert Moss, a food historian here in South Carolina.
Apparently, from what we understand, they were only popularized in the South much later, thanks, in part, to the 1991 movie.
The exact origin of the story is just a little bit murky, but there is no doubt that the South has intelligently claimed this dish as part of their culinary essence.
However fried green tomatoes were introduced to you, just be happy that they were.
Want to try and make your own? Try this fantastic recipe from the folks at Southern Living.