Fried Green Tomatoes
Juliette is a pleasant little place. In the early 1900s it was a bustling, hustling railroad community. McCrackin Street, named for the founder, had a general store, meat market, railroad depot and one of the world’s largest water-powered grist mills, built in 1927. The train still runs through Juliette, but when the railroad industry declined Juliette was one of many little railroad towns in the south that all but disappeared.
In 1991 the movie producers of Fried Green Tomatoes discovered Juliette and reconstructed the existing buildings into the fictional community of Whistle Stop. Juliette and Whistle Stop are the antithesis of slick Hollywood sets, yet that’s exactly what the town is. Ruth and Idgie’s store, the Monroe County Substation Courthouse, Big George’s barbeque pit, the bank and others line the street now. Frank Bennett from Valdosta and little Buddy’s arm are buried behind the Café. It’s a shady little town that seems much more real than a movie set. There are no sidewalks. There’s not a formal tour, though buses do come, but visitors just amble up and down the street, buy tee shirts, fresh fudge and post cards and eat fried green t’maters for lunch. It’s quiet until the train roars through.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is a true Southern novel written by Fannie Flagg in 1987. I first read this novel on an overseas flight chaperoning Girl Scouts, I think 1995. I’d picked it up at the airport. I was seated next to another adult chaperone (much younger than I) who told me the author had been her Girl Scout leader in Atlanta years before.
Recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes
from the Whistle Stop Café
Note: October is the perfect time to pick those tomatoes while they are still green and firm with no red spots. Wash and slice into ¼” thick slices. (About 5 slices per tomato.)
3-4 green tomatoes
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup corn meal
½ tsp salt & pepper
Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt & pepper. Add enough milk to create a thick batter. Heat 2” of oil in a large skillet. Batter each tomato slice, and wipe off excess. Carefully place in hot oil, browning on both sides. (May or may not need turning, depends on the amount of oil.) To cool, drain in a colander to keep tomatoes from becoming soggy. Salt to taste.