Iconic Literary Food Moments

Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe contains some of the most jaw-dropping moments in literary food history.

The most iconic of these is when the ‘good guys’ serve up the ribs of Ruth Jamison’s abusive husband Frank Bennett to the detective investigating his disappearance.

While this is the piece de resistance of the movie, and of the book upon which it was based, it is difficult to lead on that recipe. So, just as the title was not Human Barbecued Ribs at the Whistle Stop Café, we’re going with the fried green tomatoes.

Set in the southern United States of America, where it’s hot enough to boast an abundance of big green tomatoes, and paradoxically the heartland of fried food (perfect cold-climate fare), Fannie Flag’s novel pulls no punches in pointing out the equally schizophrenic nature of its inhabitants: a supposedly Christian people hell-bent on denying civil rights to all but white, heterosexual males.

There are fried green tomato recipes in Fannie Flagg’s cookbook series: Fried Green Tomatoes I, II and III, and we have opted for the simple version, which, just like fried fish and chips, goes well with gravy, aioli, mayonnaise and sauces.

  • 3/4 cup of self-raising flour

  • 1/4 cup cornmeal

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3-4 green tomatoes sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

  • Bacon grease or vegetable oil for frying


Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper and buttermilk and whisk into a pancake-like batter.

Heat two inches of oil in a frying pan and bring to frying temperature.

Dip tomato slices in batter, allowing excess to drip into bowl.

Dunk the battered slices immediately into the pan. The oil should sizzle but not pop. If it pops, let it cool before proceeding. Hot oil can get out of hand very quickly.

Without overcrowding the pan, fry the tomato slices in batches for 2-3 minutes per side until golden.

Serve with condiments.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons via Baltimore Sun and ebay.com and Urban Kayaker