Movie Bites: Fried Green Tomatoes for two
A recipe based on the popular dish served up by Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker at the Whistle Stop Cafe
THE MOVIE: Fried Green Tomatoes is the 1991 film adaptation of Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The film is a parallel story of two friendships; the first is the friendship between the downtrodden housewife Evelyn (Kathy Bates) and the elderly Ninny (Jessica Tandy) in the 1980s, who relays to Evelyn the Depression-era story of her old friends Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker) and Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson). The film version received some criticism for writing out the lesbian aspect of Ruth and Idgie’s relationship that appears in the book; instead they’re portrayed as just “good friends” in the film. Nevertheless, it’s a heartwarming film about friendship, love and revenge – which is a dish best served hot in this case.
THE SCENE: Having formed a bond in their youth, Ruth and Idgie are brought together in later years when Ruth escapes an abusive husband and returns to their home town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, to recover. The two friends open The Whistle Stop Cafe with the help of their cook, Sipsey, and her son, Big George. When Ruth’s husband comes looking for Ruth, he is killed by an unknown assailant, barbecued and served to the local Sheriff. Seriously!
THE FOOD: For this month’s recipe, we thought we’d take inspiration from the name of Ruth and Idgie’s cafe. Rather than focus on the revenge recipe, we’d like to highlight the recuperative qualities of food and friendship with our very own fried green tomato recipe.
4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
1 thyme sprig
2 free-range eggs
4 heaped tablespoons of Panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
2 tomatoes (green if possible, but red tomatoes work really well with this recipe too)
Meanwhile, sieve your flour into a large bowl and add the zest of the lemon, the leaves from the thyme sprig and a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix.
In another bowl, beat your two eggs.
Place the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.
Now slice your tomatoes into slices of about 1cm thick. One tomato per person should do it. Before coating your tomatoes, add a small cup of sunflower oil to a large, non-stick frying pan and heat over a medium heat so it will be good and hot when you’re ready to shallow-fry those tomatoes. You want the oil to be about 1 or 2cm deep in the pan.
Dust a tomato slice with the flour and then dip in the beaten egg. Now coat with the breadcrumbs and set aside. Repeat this method until all the tomato slices are coated.
Your sunflower oil should be good and hot now. Test it with a cube of white bread or potato – if it sizzles and browns within 30 seconds, it’s ready to go. Using a slotted spoon, very carefully place the tomatoes into the hot oil. Please be extra careful if there are children around. Fry for about five minutes on either side, or until the tomatoes are deliciously golden brown.
Carefully remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper towel.
Serve on toast topped with a fried egg and a dollop of your favourite tomato relish on the side.