Fall brings with it Halloween, falling leaves, football and piles of unripe green tomatoes stacked in our windowsills and piled in bowls on the kitchen counter, all rescued from the impending first frost. Some of the tomatoes ripen enough to eat or can, but many never make it that far. Instead, they turn into fried green tomatoes.
I never knew this was an actual food and not just a catchy name for a book and movie until I married, and we planted our first garden. My husband grew up eating these little treats every fall when he helped his grandfather harvest the garden. I apparently led a much more sheltered life and grew up without ever even hearing of a fried green tomato until the movie came out in 1991.
Now, every year in September before the first freeze, my husband brings in a box full of green tomatoes and reminisces about his Grandpa. The first time he brought in his box, I thought he’d set them in the window to ripen, but he didn’t. He cut them up, fried them, and gave me one. I had never even seen a sliced up green tomato much less a fried one, and I had never tasted anything quite like it.
To make them, my husband slices them about a quarter inch thick, dredges them in seasoned flour, and fries them up in a little butter and oil. He then salts them like French fries right when he pulls them out of the oil and serves them either plain or with a little ranch dressing on the side. Sometimes he spices them up with some Tabasco, but I don’t care for that.
I’m not sure how to describe them other than they’re acidic but sweet with a bit of tangy-ness. They’re yummy. Now that I’ve eaten them every fall for the past twenty years, that is what they taste like, fall.
I don’t know that I ever realized this until I started writing and became hyper-aware of such details. What does fall taste like? Smell like? Feel like? These are the kind of questions I’ve been asking myself, and this past week, I answered one of them. One thing fall tastes like is Fried Green Tomatoes.