Are fried green tomatoes famous food in the Southern USA?

The kitchen is the fulcrum of the life, love and rebellion of Idgie and Ruth, protagonists of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. But what are the dish’s genuine origins?

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a dish of the Whistle Stop Cafe’s fried green tomatoes.” Even at the table, the large screen’s ideas are potent and long-lasting. Among the most renowned foods seen in film are the legendary fried green tomatoes , as seen in the 1991 Jon Avnet film based on Fannie Flagg’s book “Green Fried Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafè”. The famous quote immediately brings to mind the image of Old America, made of apple pie and pastel-coloured pastries, barbecues and butter creams, but above all to the sweet Hollywood story discovered in the kitchen, the one between Idgie and Ruth. Two 1920s Alabama women seeking independence, escaping suffering, patriarchal tyranny, and racial prejudice, who find themselves in a close, meaningful connection. A love tale that struggles with societal preconceptions and finds sanctuary in the kitchen.

The Whistle Stop Cafè

It is through the recipes, but above all thanks to that small community that revolves around the Whistle Stop Café that becomes the scene of love affairs, feminist challenges and anti-racial battles, that viewers can leap into the atmosphere of the South of the United States, Alabama, during the Great Depression with a strong identity. With its classic, real foods, this character emerges with persistence in the kitchen. Simple yet effective. Unforgettable just like those fried green tomatoes, a house specialty still famous today which, together with chicken (also fried), is one of the most famous dishes in the southern States. A recipe from far before the twentieth century, referenced in an Ohio cookbook from 1873 and then again in a Chicago Presbyterian pamphlet from 1877.

Origin of fried green tomatoes

Although being a traditional Southern cuisine, nothing is known about the origins of fried green tomatoes, which were not widely available until the 1990s, according to many. Author and food historian Robert F. Moss, for example, claims that they first entered the American culinary scene in the Northeastern and Midwestern states, “probably thanks to Jewish immigrants.” What made them famous and known in the South, however, seems to have been “the many schools of home economics developed in the United States in the first half of the 20th century.” They weren’t born in Alabama, but the fried green tomatoes that inspired the author of the best-selling book were on the menu. at Irondale Café Flagg used to eat them as a youngster in Jefferson County.

“Secret’s in the sauce”

The Irondale eatery still remains today; the sign states “Original Whistle Stop Café since 1928,” and fried green tomatoes are always on the menu. Au contraire, they have become the symbol of the restaurant, which after the success of the film had to buy a larger fryer to meet the high demand (it seems that today it uses about 30 kilos of tomatoes a day!). The book’s original recipe calls for frying them in bacon grease and pouring a white sauce over the hot tomatoes. But, for a healthier and lighter version, we suggest using extra virgin olive oil. After all, the Whistle Stop Café pair taught us well… “The secret is in the sauce.”

Fried green tomatoes recipe


  • 6 green tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g breadcrumbs
  • 200 g milk
  • 100 g all-purpose or white cornflour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease (or 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)

Wash and wipe dry the tomatoes before slicing them horizontally. They should not render liquids or seeds but if they are a little watery, dab them with kitchen paper. In a big skillet large enough to handle numerous slices in one single layer, heat the bacon fat/olive oil to frying temperature (160° C). Dip the tomatoes in a thin coating of flour, then sprinkle with additional flour, brush off the excess, and dip into the beaten eggs. Coat them with breadcrumbs, being careful to coat them well. Sauté the tomato slices on each sides until brown and coloured. Drain with a slotted spoon and pat dry with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Place the tomatoes on a serving platter and keep them heated. Add one tablespoon of flour to each tablespoon of fat remaining in the pan and stir to dissolve. Add a cup of lukewarm milk and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Pour over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Serve the dish immediately.

Related Questions

  • Are Fried Green Tomatoes a Southern dish?

    Fried green tomatoes are often associated with the South, although prior to the 1970s, they were not mentioned in Southern newspapers or cookbooks. This dish was brought to the US in the 19th century by Jewish immigrants and later appeared in Northeastern and Midwestern cookbooks.

  • What state is known for Fried Green Tomatoes?

    You may not find yourself in Juliette, Georgia unless you purposely detour to the unincorporated town between Atlanta and Macon. It is well known as the setting of the Whistle Stop Café, which was used in the shooting of Fried Green Tomatoes. The eatery reopened when the filming was over.

  • Are Fried Green Tomatoes popular?

    Memorable, like those fried green tomatoes, a home speciality that, together with chicken (also fried), is one of the most renowned meals in the southern United States.

  • What cuisine is Fried Green Tomatoes?

    Southern dish

    Fried green tomatoes are a traditional Southern meal prepared with unripe sliced green tomatoes. They’re a must-have during summer when tomatoes are in season!

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