With the coming of the Indian’s Summer the nights get fresher. Nature starts slowing down, and tomatoes don’t totally ripe. This particular time is the green tomatoes season that can go late into the month of November for the Southerners.
Bringing the dish on your Labor’s Day week-end table is a great way to celebrate the coming of fall, where produce switch from sweet juiciness to earthy tanginess.
Interesting enough the history of fried green tomatoes is not quite so attach to Southern cuisine. The first writing proof of the dish dates from early 19 century New England, “Lovers of tomatoes are very fond of them, sliced green as apples are sliced, and fried in butter. Some persons are fond of them sliced and fried after being dipped in butter. The green tomatoes, which the season will not permit to ripen, may be turned to good account by using them fried.” — The New England Farmer. Oct. 14, 1836.
Robert F. Moss, a food historian and writer argue that he found traces of the dish in several Jewish and Midwestern cookbooks of the late 19 and early 20 centuries, way before the fried green tomatoes will be mention in Southern cookbooks and newspapers. Moss says, “The green tomatoes entered the American culinary scene in the Northeast and Midwest, perhaps with a link to Jewish immigrants, and from there moved onto the menu of the home-economics school of cooking teachers who flourished in the United States in the early-to-mid 20th century.”
In 1874 John Cowan probably America first nutritionist, in his quintessential produce book — “What to Eat and How to Cook It” wrote, ”Green or half ripe tomatoes fried, or rather browned, make a nice relish for breakfast, but they require care and patience. Wipe the fruit clean, cut in slices one-fourth of an inch thick, dip in corn meal, and brown on a griddle till tender, say ten or fifteen minutes.”
The recipe with batter as we know it nowadays appears in late 19 century. Al Forno, in is –“Fried Green Tomato Swindle”, notes that as a part of his research into the history and origin of fried green tomatoes, he found eleven recipes published in newspapers from 1900 to 1919 and all eleven where in Northern or Midwestern cities.
In 1944 the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended fried green tomatoes for breakfast. To what the editor of the Dothan Eagle, Alabama answered in its very own title, “‘No, Thank You, Suh! Our Culinary Tastes Won’t Permit It, Suh!’”