Laughin’, Talkin’ Southern, and Cookin’ Fried Green Tomatoes

Last week, I wanted fried green tomatoes in a bad way. Just couldn’t remember how to make them so I called Mother. After being diagnosed with CELIAC DISEASE six years ago, I hadn’t eaten any.

 “I love it when you ask me cooking questions,” she said. “Makes me think I’m a good cook.”

“You are. You just don’t like to cook.”

“I’ve never made fried green tomatoes, but it’s probably like frying okra. Oh, look,” she said. “One of the stray kitties I’m feeding is sitting in my jardiniere.” ( Jawwww-den-ah-yah is how she pronounced it.)

I had no idea what the word meant. And once Mother starts talking about animals, you’ve lost her. I just wanted some fried green tomatoes.

“I’ve been feeding two of the sweetest–”

“I know about the cats. I don’t know what that other word means.”

Jawww-den-ah-yah? It’s the cement thing on the porch that holds flowers. Your grandmother loved jawwww-den-ah-yahs. I’m going to start saying it all the time. Jawwww-den–ah-yah. Jawwww-den-ah-yah. It’s a wonderful word. Say it.”

I wanted to talk about tomatoes, but the softest, sweetest thought bubbled up.

This moment is a gift. Enjoy it.

“Okay. Jawww-den-ah-yah,” I said.

Then we got tickled for a minute or twome calling for a recipe and her talking about jawww-den-ah-yahs.

When we finally stopped laughing, she told me to soak the tomato slices in egg and milk.

“For how long?”

“When I don’t know the answers to your questions, I make something up.”


“Soak them ever how long you want to. Just get your oil good and hot.”

“Do I dip them in cornmeal and flour?”

“If you want to.”

The only thing that beat my fried green tomatoes was laughing about jawwww-den-ah-yahs.

Mother doesn’t follow recipes. Or too many rules.

She believes laughter bonds people together.

She’s right.

I just had to let go first.


 Say jawww-den–ah-yah a couple of times and make some fried green tomatoes today. 🙂

P.S. For my gluten-free friends, I used PAMELA’S GLUTENFREE PANCAKE AND BAKING FLOUR. No cornmeal.