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Fried green tomatoes: the story of an Oscar dish – Italian Cuisine


Journey to discover one of the most famous dishes in the history of cinema, protagonist of a great film nominated for two Academy Awards in 199. And the recipe!

Tasty, golden, irresistible. Are the Fried Green Tomatoes, that recipe protagonist before the book Fried green tomatoes at Whistle Stop coffee and then of the 1991 film Fried green tomatoes at the train stop, a cult of the history of cinema, with those berries covered with bread that seemed to tie forever Idgie and Ruth, two women who were never afraid to fight against a world of rules that seemed to oppress them, bring them down to earth.

Fried Green Tomatoes.
Fried Green Tomatoes.

Recipe

The recipe, typical of the tradition of the southern United States, becomes incredibly popular, thanks to a certain ease in preparation and a unique flavor, which goes well with the milk sauce. Unlike the red ones, the green tomatoes are very firm and almost completely seedless, not to be confused with the green unripe tomatoes. It is a dish that makes the kitchen more appetizing, not only for its luxuriant color, but also for a new crunchiness, to be proposed as an appetizer or as a side dish. Once washed and cut into slices, the difficult will be to make the batter. After sieving 80 grams of cornmeal and another 80 grams of 00 flour, mixing them with 10 grams of sugar, prepare separately two eggs beaten together with salt and pepper. At this point you will only have to pass the slices of tomato first in the eggs and then in the mix of two flours twice: only after having cooked them in boiling oil and having pulled them out at the right time, beautiful golden, will be ready to taste and to be served hot, with particular attention not to overlap them once laid on the tray covered with plenty of absorbent paper.

The aromas of the South, the colors and the breading, will awaken those pristine landscapes of America of the Thirties. In particular, bringing us back to Whistle Stop, the town where the railway locomotives darted like lightning bolts and where Idgie and Ruth find shelter from the dangers of the world, when they lovingly run a coffee in the city center fighting against the prejudice of the old men of the country. Those who did not tolerate the self-sufficiency of two young people, but also the friendship they had with black men, men who were only good slaves for obedience. And who knows what to bite a fried green tomato can not suggest a distant echo and that film lovers will recognize immediately. An echo called "Towanda".

Egg and potato pie

We have got a mouse.

I say that like this is a new thing. We’ve actually had a mouse for ages. And when I say mouse, I dearly hope I do mean mouse, singular, not mice, plural. It’s hard to tell, mice look similar. And if there are two mice living in this house, it’s highly likely they are related and therefore even more indistinguishable.

The reason I mention it only now is that up until a fortnight ago, only other people had ever seen this mouse and I, of course, dismissed the sightings as fanciful imaginings of hysterical people.

“Okay,” I would say, “if there’s a mouse, where’s the mouse poo?” But then one evening when my husband was watching football, I was sitting right here at the kitchen table, writing, and out from under the oven came a small, sleek mouse with a twitchy nose, beady eyes and very large ears.

It was indescribably cute.

Then it saw me and disappeared like lightning, leaving, in terror, a trail of poo behind it.

I didn’t say anything to my husband, because my husband thinks we should get Rentokil in and I do not want this. I do not want to set glue traps or lay down some sort of ghastly poison that causes the mice to die slowly from internal bleeding. Neither do I want to get a cat. I like cats, but there are too many cats already on our street already and they kill all the birds. I have never been ok with death. I don’t like it and I don’t want it around me. I certainly don’t want to be party to it.

I have purchased, online from somehere that calls itself “Tooled-Up” a humane mousetrap but when I catch and release this mouse on to Hampstead Heath I fully expect another one to replace it.

Anyway, aren’t mice inevitable? These old London houses with their mouse-sized gaps everywhere and rubbish aplenty – surely every building, except hermetically-sealed new builds, has got a mouse somewhere. Rather than issue a mouse holocaust, we should all just try to get along.

(Incidentally, my sister in law told me that she heard on the radio that there is an influx of mice at the moment because it has been so rainy – the mice flee the flooding sewers and take shelter under, for example, ovens in North London. She has the same attitude to mice as me: live and let live.)

Anyway I know why we have got a mouse. It’s because of Kitty. Or rather, it’s because of me. It’s because I allow her to roam freely round the ground floor carrying a variety of brittle foodstuffs, which rain little mouse-snack-sized crumbs hither and thither, which, later on, the mouse posts into its gob with both hands. I have seen it with my own eyes, while sitting on the sofa watching Breaking Bad and eating Green&Blacks.

The only thing to do is vacuum the entire ground floor every night before bed. I do not wish to starve the mouse, you understand – merely think that it might have better luck elsewhere until the sewers dry out and it can return to its natural habitat.

Speaking of natural habitats, mine is carbohydrate-based. I have been dieting like mad recently because I am still so traumatised by being fat while pregnant (yes, after 17 months. That’s how fat I was). But recently, I have fallen off the starvation waggon and have been scoffing like my little mouse friend. It’s partly because I am trying to have another baby and think maybe if I’ve got a bit more meat on my bones it might help.

Incidentally, I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking – why are you trying to have another baby when all you do is complain on and on about how awful having children is? And my answer is this: Kitty needs a little buddy. If she didn’t need a little buddy I wouldn’t do it. No way. The thought of doing it all again makes me feel quite ill but at least I only have to do it once more. Then I can wash my hands of the whole sorry business and concentrate on dieting until I’m so thin a stiff breeze would blow me over.

But until then, here is a terrific recipe for egg and potato pie that my husband makes when we’re feeling skinny and virtuous enough to risk letting such things pass our lips.

Giles’s egg and potato pie
for 4

3 large floury potatoes
4 eggs
butter – about 100g
salt and pepper

1 Peel and boil the potatoes whole for 15 minutes but stop boiling if they look like they’re falling apart, as floury potatoes are so wont to do. Boil the eggs for 7 minutes, cool and peel.

2 Slice the potatoes and the eggs. This is a reasonably fiddly job – especially with the eggs. If you have a purpose-made egg slicer, this is the time to extract it from the back of that drawer, wipe the grease off and deploy it.

3 Butter the bottom of a baking dish, then cover with a layer of potatoes. Dot with butter and season. Then add a layer of sliced egg. Repeat this until you have used up all your egg and potato.

DO NOT fret if this all looks a bit of a mess, it is an imprecise dish and will taste terrific no matter how it looks.

4 Put in the oven for 45 mins at 180

Because Oyster Rockefeller Sounds Rich

There’s much debate over how many of America’s greatest
recipes got their name, but that’s not an issue with Oyster Rockefeller. Thanks
to the rich, money-colored butter sauce, this decadent creation’s name pretty
much wrote itself.

Besides the obvious, superficial reasons, associating your
new shellfish appetizer with the most affluent family of the day was a stroke
of social media genius. Hey, just because Twitter wouldn’t be invented for
another 107 years doesn’t mean people didn’t “retweet” things.

When Jules Alciatore invented the dish in 1899, he wasn’t
trying to create a classic, new American shellfish appetizer; he was simply
trying to replace snails in his diet. That’s right, what would become America’s
greatest seafood appetizer (sorry, crab cakes) was just a delicious work-around
for a serious shortage of French snails in New Orleans.

To say the customers of Antoine’s were happy with this local
substitution would be a huge understatement. They went crazy for it. The dish
quickly gained national attention, with the most famous celebrities,
politicians, and foreign dignitaries of the day stumbling over each to get a
plate or three.

The original secret recipe really is a secret; so all
versions, including mine, are just guesses. There is agreement among foodies
who study such matters that spinach was not part of the formula, but the much
spicier and more flavorful watercress was used.

Neither were mushrooms, bacon, ham, cheese, garlic, or any other
later day add-ons. Not that those ingredient aren’t good baked on top of
oysters, but that just wasn’t how Mr. Alciatore rolled. So if you are looking
for a special occasion appetizer that tastes, looks, and makes you feel (and
sound) rich, then I hope you give this oyster Rockefeller recipe a try. Enjoy!

Makes enough for about 3 dozen oysters Rockefeller:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) room temp
2 tbsp minced green onions, white and light green parts
2 tbsp diced celery
2 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
2 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 cup chopped watercress leaves
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 tbsp Pernod liquor
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 dozen oysters on the half shell



Bonus How to Open Oyster Video!

My friend Tamar, from Starving Off the Land, does a much better job of showing how to open oysters, but that’s only because she raises them and gets a lot more practice! That, and she’s better at it. Also, a special thanks to Sky Sabin Productions for their fine work on this.

For some additional shucking info, and tons of oyster recipe links, you can also check out this article on Allrecipes.com. Enjoy!