Last year, before the pandemic took over travel plans and literally (and figuratively) swept the rug out from under this food and travel writer’s feet─I mean it’s kinda hard to get paying gigs when the industry you write for shuts down─GG and I went to Nashville and were lucky enough to experience some seriously delicious Southern cooking.
Yes, even vegans can enjoy Southern food!
We were there during the CMAs … yea, that’s right, back when awards shows actually took place in packed venues with after parties and excuses to have more than one outfit for the evening … anyway, one of the coolest places we went was a bit of a hike from downtown and the always-jamming honkey tonks, but it was well worth the drive. Rumor has it that people travel to the Loveless Café just for its biscuits and jam. Me, I’m not much of a biscuit eater but GG was beside himself, “I get to have biscuits, butter and fried chicken,” he said over and over and over again.
Me, I had fried green tomatoes, fried okra, collard greens, and a bloody mary that reminded just how much I love brunch food. And it rekindled an overwhelming urge to make fried green tomatoes for the next few weeks. Caveat, I love tomatoes. And I really, really love fried green tomatoes. Think Cathy Bates and Idgie in the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Yea, if I could spend an afternoon at the Whistle Stop Café I would be in heaven. So in honor of National Southern Food Day here’s a perfectly fabulous method for making the delicacy just be warned you could have a slight grease fire in your kitchen because if you cook like me, well, you might have a tendency to space out a little and you may (or may not) burn a batch or two. It’s OK though. Just pick the burnt edges off and eat them anyway. “Towanda!”
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
PREP TIME: 20 minutes | COOK: Stove Top, medium high heat, 15 minutes
- 8-10 green tomatoes, use green tomatoes—really green, no red and no yellow
- 1-2 cups canola oil for frying
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- Dash of salt
- Dash or cayenne pepper
Rinse tomatoes and gently dry them. Cut tomatoes into ⅓-inch-thick slices. For the coating: In one bowl combine equal amounts cornmeal and flour and a dash of salt and cayenne pepper. In another bowl, combine two eggs with ½ cup plant-based milk. Dip sliced tomatoes into the dry mix, then wet and then dry again. Note, sometimes people sprinkle a little sugar on the tomato before dredging in the flour and egg mixture to cut down on the bitterness. Just know that the most important thing is to dip the tomato in the flour, then egg and flour again. There has to be a thick coating created.
Heat canola oil in a cast-iron skillet. Put a couple droplets of water on your fingertips and sprinkle them into the oil. If the water pops back up, the oil is ready. Layer the bottom of the pan with the tomatoes, making sure they don’t overlap. Fry until they start to brown around the edges. Flip them and keep flipping until they turn golden. Once both sides have a nice golden color, remove them onto a paper shopping bag to drain the grease. Done. Enjoy
DISCLAIMER: Our recipes are just that, ours. Some are modified versions of dishes we’ve had elsewhere or old-favorites that contained animal proteins, while others are a concentrated effort of trial and error. But all are intended to be altered by you and made to suit your tastes. So if you want more garlic or none at all, go for it. You do you ; )
What even are grits? Corn? Porridge? All I know is they are drunk-food kind of delicious!
Normally people save their baked beans for bbqs and burgers and such, but my favorite man opted to serve them right alongside some spicy fish—and cornbread too, of course. Why? I mean really, why the hell not?
What’s a mostly-plant based eater to do when visiting a world-famous cafe known for authentic Southern cooking?