It's a Fried Green Tomatoes Weekend...

Do these tomatoes look familiar... they are the ones on top of the Fried Green Tomatoes poster... let's hear the story behind the movie... this information is gathered from Sandi of the Whistlestop Cafe Cooking blog and the Whistlestop Cafe Site... Here we are at the Irondale station in Alabama... Irondale is located just east of Birmingham on I-20. Chartered in 1887, a little mining community, then a railroad community, and now a diverse and thriving town...Here is Miss Bess Fortenberry... she purchased the Irondale Cafe around 1932 and catered to railroad workers and locals.

Bess, who came from a prominent Irondale family, was single and had a great enthusiasm for life. She was freespirited, loved people, and built a successful business. Her great-niece Fanny Flagg would later write a book about her life and the cafe.

In the early forties, Bess leased the Irondale Cafe and went to Florida to work for the war effort. While in Florida, she ran into an old acquaintance, Sue Lovelace. After the war, Bess convinced Sue and a wonderful cook, a black lady named Lizzie Cunningham, to come back to Irondale with her and help in the cafe.

The trio made the Irondale Cafe one of the most popular places around town to dine. They cooked such good vegetables and meats, and they had a thriving sandwich business. What made the sandwiches especially desirable was that they were made "to go"-primarily because there wasn't much room in the cafe for sit-down eating at that time.

In 1972, Bess suffered a light stroke and decided to sell the cafe and retire. Sue and Lizzie also had health problems and were ready to give up the cafe. This is when Bess sold the cafe to Billy. Billy had worked with the railroad and eaten lunch at the cafe on numerous occasions. Over the years, the original cafe was torn down and a new cafe was built on the site and eventually expanded.
Mr. and Mrs. McMichael were the owners of the Irondale Cafe for 28 years until retirement in 2000. During the time they owned the Cafe, Fannie Flagg wrote the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and the movie version came out in 1992. Right after the movie opened, tourists from all over started coming to the "Whistle Stop" Cafe. On February 5, 1992, The Birmingham News ran an article with a picture of two of my cooks holding a peck basket of green tomatoes. The caption read "Seen the movie? Now taste the title."

Mrs. McMichael seen here whipping up a batch of fried green tomatoes...

Everyone who came to the cafe for the first time wanted to know all about Miss Bess and our restaurant and almost all the customers new and old, ordered fried green tomatoes! We’d fry 60 or 70 pounds every weekday and more than that on Sundays. It's almost a miracle that we were able to do it. The people at the Finley Avenue Produce Market were more than helpful in keeping us supplied with all the green tomatoes we needed.

Fannie in front of the cafe while on a visit...
Ooh... Look a train just pulled into the station... let's hop aboard... and journey to the set of Fried Tomatoes...

Here is the town in Juliette, Georgia... this is the town for the filming of the movie...
If you haven't seen Fried Green Tomatoes you should rate it or buy it... great movie to keep in your library and the movie was rate one of the top Ten Great Chick Flicks for a Girls Movie Night...Cast and Characters...
Kathy Bates .... Evelyn Couch
Mary Stuart Masterson .... Idgie Threadgoode
Mary-Louise Parker .... Ruth Jamison
Jessica Tandy .... Ninny Threadgoode
Cicely Tyson .... Sipsey
Chris O'Donnell .... Buddy Threadgoode
Stan Shaw .... Big George
Gailard Sartain .... Ed Couch
Timothy Scott .... Smokey Lonesome
Gary Basaraba .... Grady Kilgore

If you would like to try your hand at making Fried Green Tomatoes... here is the original recipe via the WhistleStopCooking blog...Fried Green Tomatoes
3-4 green tomatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
vegetable oil
Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt & pepper. Add enough milk to create a thick batter. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large skillet. Batter each tomato slice, and wipe off excess. Carefully place in hot oil, browning on both sides. (may or may not need turning, depending on the amount of oil) To cool, drain in a colander to keep tomatoes from becoming soggy. Salt to taste.

If you don't want to mix your own ingredients... you can find the batter mix at the WhistleStopCafe website. Recently, Sandi posted about the Good Morning America cross-country journey called the WhistleStop Tour. The tour began September 15th, and they planned to hit every state in the country. Great Press for the Whistle Stop Cafe and products!
And finally we meet our lovely hostess for our weekend travel... Sandi and her husband Bill Jr. who have taken the food product business and grown it into a delicious success story! Thank you for hospitality and information... I have enjoyed learning about the REAL Irondale Cafe that inspired Fried Green Tomatoes!
"Y'all enjoy!" as Sandi says!
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