Where I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland there was one thing the defined our food culture and that thing is crab. Crab cakes, crab dip or just bushels of steamed crabs were served at family gatherings, on special occasions and when visitors came to town. Stores that line the streets of my hometown have t-shirts with crab slogans hanging in their windows and every person I knew had a crab ornament on their Christmas tree.
When I moved south I had to get used to a very different kind of comfort food. Sure they serve crab dishes here, but I am talking about things like pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, and my new favorite, fried green tomatoes. It turns out that things that I thought people only ate in the movies were not actually fabricated by Hollywood. They are dishes that real Southerners have been eating for just as long (if not longer) than people have been making shirts that say, “I’m Crabby”.
Fried green tomatoes are something that I absolutely crave. Even though tomato season is over, I just cannot stop thinking about them. The four places in Richmond that I generally go to when I have a hankering for a fried slice have very different approaches to the classic Southern dish.
Julep’s does their fried green tomatoes in a batter that I would compare to a tempura batter. It is not your basic bread crumb and corn meal type of coating. These fluffly fried bites are like the sexy cousin of a regular fried tomato.
The Mint’s version of fried green tomatoes is different from Julep’s from what I saw the last time I was there. This is a little surprising considering both restaurants have the same owner and serve them with the same accompaniment, peppadew aioli. I have no idea what a peppadew is, but I trust it is legit or it wouldn’t be on their menus.
Comfort, famous for their home style Southern cuisine, serves a classic version of the fried green tomato as an appetizer or in a sandwich with pimento cheese. Either way you should follow it with the banana creme brulee, because it clearly goes with everything.
The Tobacco Company serves fried yellow tomatoes with a fennel salad and avocado vinaigrette. The yellow version is just as tasty on its own, on top of an arugula salad or stuffed in a grilled cheese. (Preferably in the grilled cheese, obviously.)
Now all I need is to come up with a great slogan for fried green tomatoes to put on a t-shirt and I will be in business. To get myself started, I typed “fried green tomato” in to The Advertising Slogan Generator and it came up with this:
I’m not sure it has quite the ring to it that I was looking for.