Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes




Today you're in for a treat. Sandi, a Birmingham blogger, who has a food blog called Whistle Stop Cooking and I met a few weeks ago at the Irondale Cafe ( the Whistlestop Cafe). Of course we both had fried green tomatoes and more!! Well Sandi's husband's family goes way back with the Irondale Cafe. I told her she could tell the story much better than I could, so today, Sandi is in charge of BADP. The top photo is hers as well. The Wall of Fame is a tribute to Fannie Flagg and the cast of the movie. Thanks Sandi for the day off!

"My friend Virginia and I met at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Irondale a week or so ago for lunch. It got me to thinking, and I remembered to ask Bill about how his family came to own the cafe. His dad was a railroad man, his mom was raising 3 kids... neither knew much about running a resturant.

So the story goes~~ Mr. Mac ate at this little cafe by the tracks in Irondale frequently. He loved the meat and veggies and sandwiches that Bess served. Miss Bess Fortenberry ran the small cafe with her friend Sue and a black cook named Lizzie. It was a thriving business, although small, with only enough seating inside for 31. Mr. Mac had talked to Bess about buying her cafe... before she would agree, she insisted that he have his wife come and talk to her. (smart woman!)
Mary Jo was busy on the other side of town raising kids and really didn't know much about Irondale or the cafe. She remembers walking into the tiny dim cafe to meet with Bess and was a little surprized. The cafe was in a small green framed building, with four booths and a counter for seating. There was a big Coca-Cola sign over the door and a couple of small dingy windows. Bess asked her "what in the world do you want to buy this cafe for?" Mary Jo assured her it was Mr. Mac's idea and she would only be working with him.
She remembers thinking she knew nothing about running a business but Dad was insitent. She drove back to Huffman, and prayed that Bess would decide to sell it to someone else. Instead... They became the owners of a cafe in Irondale. (or as Bill would say... the cafe owned them) Soon after they took over, the manager became sick and had to shorten her hours. The 'batter was made' and Mary Jo became a full time cafe owner/manager. Someone else's dream, became her reality.
By the 1980's cafe was a booming success, the old building had to be torn down to meet health department standards, and a new cafe was built. This new building seated 100 and had an automatic dishwasher, 5 deep fryers, and a modern kitchen. It wasn't long before they were busting at the seams again.
Then... one day in 1983, a local TV personality and author, named Fannie Flagg walked in and said she wanted to write a book based on her Great-Aunt Bess and her old cafe. Many of the stories from the novel 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the WhistleStop Cafe' are based on real life stories from the early days at the cafe.

My plate of fried green tomatoes and black eyed peas. Scrumptious macaroni and cheese just out of the photo.

31 comments:

Olivier said...

la première photo fait très décor de film, elle est très belle

Judy - So California said...

V, Keep 'em hot - I am on my way. That looks yummy!

Bergson said...

This story makes me hungry

Bibi said...

This is a super post!!! Olivier is right; the top photo could be a movie set (and maybe will be!)and the second, oh, the second... I'm gonna hustle down to the market and buy some green tomatoes and....oh....they're not in season yet, but you can bet that I will recreate this scene at my place...maraconi and cheese (and maybe a couple of mint juleps thrown in), too. (BTW, I loved the book, too.)

Jilly said...

What a fascinating post. I adored the book. Still have it. Not sure I could eat all that deep-fried batter tho! I could eat the rest for sure.

lewi14 said...

Yes, that looks like very inviting and very yummy! If I could taste...

brattcat said...

I'm drooling on my keyboard. Fantastic post!

Yvi said...

That lunch looks great and smells good, I think...

Nice story...

Greetings
Yvi

Eeyore said...

Yum. I need to get out there again soon.

Daryl said...

LOVED the book and the movie (a rare occurrence for moi)and I love fried green tomatoes ... that lunch is a heart attack waiting to happen, so pass some of that mac/cheese my way, please ..

Fabulous telling .. thanks, Sandi!

Kate said...

Story telling is one of my favorite pastimes, and this is one terrific story! Sounds like a cozy little place initially with lots of hard work. Funniest thing, my fried green tomatoes NEVER look that good!

Thérèse said...

So inviting! And such a good movie!

altadenahiker said...

Do tell! Oh, what a great story. I'll have to try my first fried green tomato in Sandi's honor.

TheChieftess said...

What a great story!!! I love that some of the stories in the book and movie are based on real history!!! I actually made fried green (home grown) tomatoes after the movie came out...and loved them!!!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Virginia~ thanks bunches for featuring me on your blog. I'm ready to go back for some yummy food.

For those of you who want to make yourown fried green tomatoes... hop on over. I know where you can getsome easy batter mixes. :-)

Meals by Misty said...

I ate lunch here Saturday. LOVE IT!

steviewren said...

Thanks Sandi, I loved reading the continuing story behind the Irondale Cafe. It's been a while since I've eaten there, but I haven't forgotten how good the food is. (even though I'm not a green tomato fan : )

JM said...

I've never tried fried green tomatoes, but now I would like to! :-)
Gorgeous new header, V.!

Virginia said...

Misty, Steviewren, and Sandi,
We need to meet at the cafe one day for lunch! What a fun place for a blogfest!

Louis la Vache said...

FGT was a great movie!
«Louis» remembers the (um) bar-b-que scene...
...and the old truck being pulled out of the river...

bfarr said...

Loved that movie. Great post. The fried green tomatoes look darn good too.

Jacob said...

I don't think I've ever eaten fried green tomatoes...but they look rather good. I tried to watch the movie once, but found it so boring I turned it off.

This cafe looks much more interesting than the movie ever did!

Chuck Pefley said...

Fried green tomatoes always sounds to me like something delicious ... but I'm with Jilly on the deep-fried batter ... looks tasty and indeed was, in my distant past.

Great post, V. Thanks for taking the day off -:))

TheChieftess said...

When I made my fried green tomatoes there was no batter involved...I dipped them in egg and then corn meal...fried in light oil...maybe not traditional southern fgt...but good!!!

Bob Crowe said...

I am culturally deprived. I've never eaten fried green tomatoes but I'd give it a try. The beans look pretty good to me. Does this place send doggie bags by FedEx?

Paula said...

FGT is one of my all-time fave movies. And I love FGT. And black eyed peas, all that good eating in fact. Thanks for bringing us the scoop!

Kat said...

Great post! I love Sandy...and Bill.

Gosh, it's midnight and that last photo has made me hungry!

Hugs!
Kat

Dinah Toro said...

To Kate and Chuck: These aren't as fat-ridden as might be expected. These look as though they have been dredged in flour first then popped in very hot (bacon) fat. My mother used to dredge them first in cracker meal instead of flour---I loved that texture. Is cracker meal still sold??
Then she fried them in a cast iron skillet in bacon fat. SOOOOO GOOD.

Dinah Toro said...

That was CRACKER meal, not CORN meal that my mother used--corn meal is coarser in texture.

I did not like the movie at all.

steviewren said...

Virginia, I'd love to meet you guys there. Let me know when!

Maya said...

Oh, Janet wanted to go here so badly! She will be jealous of you!