Summer is road-trip season, so we're taking a culinary tour of America. But because Portland is a city of immigrants from other states, we don't have to leave town to do it. We're traveling to 50 Portland restaurants to try one distinctive food from each state. Our 50 Plates tour continues with fried green tomatoes from Alabama, which joined the union on December 14, 1819.
The state: Think of Alabama, and maybe you’ll hum the tune of the overplayed American gem, Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet Home Alabama,” which was apparently written about Reese Witherspoon—or maybe about the band's P.E. teacher. But the Heart of Dixie also played host to the country's first official Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile, Alabama, is home of the rocket capital of the world, Huntsville, Alabama.
The food: It’s no surprise that southerners like their grub fried. Green tomatoes are no different. These salty-sweet green tomatoes are traditionally fried in cream meal— instead of corn meal— until they have a crispy, golden crust. They’re then served with an array of sauces: such as a remoulade made from mayonnaise and Creole mustard. And, apparently, the fried tomatoes don’t just belong on your plate: The dish even made its debut Hollywood appearance in the 1987 film, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe which follows the story of a friendship in Birmingham, Alabama. The film’s “Whistle Cafe” is based on the Irondale Cafe in Irondale, Alabama— a cafe that boasts serving anywhere from 600-800 slices of the fried tomatoes every day.Other dishes considered and rejected: Baked grits, Bouillabaisse, fried chicken, banana pudding, crab cakes, barbecue pork sandwich, Po’ boys, fried catfish.
Click on the map to see each state's distinctive food and where to get it in Portland.