I had lunch today at my favorite local joint, Early Girl Eatery, and as I tucked into a plate of their fabulous spinach potato cakes, I began to think about culinary creativity. In a fast-food world where some kitchens are virtually abandoned rooms, cooking beautiful, interesting food may be in danger of becoming a lost art. My faith in humanity’s ability to differentiate between mass-produced food and fresh, tasty cuisine is restored whenever I visit places like Early Girl.
In the search for culinary perfection, I am constantly experimenting with recipes and trying new combinations. Any recipe that comes into my kitchen is in danger of being “tweaked” if not entirely revamped. I love looking for ways to make a good dish rise to the level of perfection. Sometimes, I even manage to come close.
There are other times, however, when there’s nothing more to be done to a recipe. For years, I’ve collected various recipes for making fried green tomatoes. Nearly everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line has a preferred method for coating and seasoning these tart green gems. I’ve tried a dozen different methods, tweaking as needed, in search of that perfect combination of crisp crust and tart tomato goodness. I’ve battered, breaded, egged, herbed, and cheesed green tomatoes searching for just the right combination of ingredients.
In the end, I realized that no amount of tweaking or alternative methods can, at least for me, make a better green fried tomato than my grandmother’s. Simple and easy, I inherited this method among her recipes when she died. They’re an early childhood memory for me and let’s face it, nothing is better than the food we grew up with.
So here it is, my idea of the perfect green fried tomato, courtesy of my grandmother:
Slice green tomatoes 1/4″ thick. Dredge in flour, shake off excess. Dip in milk and then dredge in cornmeal. Fry in hot oil until golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt & pepper before serving.
Yep, it’s that simple, no additional creativity needed. 🙂
(Photo credit: rachel is coconut&lime on flickr)