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  • Writer's pictureBecky Fifield

A Maryland Breakfast: Fried Red Tomatoes in Cream Gravy

I recently visited my great uncle, Uncle B, in Arizona. Having left our ancestral seat for a life of western adventure in 1947, we don’t have all that much in common. However, as conversations meander in and out of the present and past, interesting cultural gems emerge, such as foodways, stories of prize winnings at The Graw racetrack in Havre de Grace, and hard work.

While the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes brought that dish roaring back to the table, I have yet to see my family’s fried red tomatoes in cream gravy make any sort of resurgence. What I didn’t realize until this visit with Uncle B is that the dish was served for breakfast, and topped with smoked fish. While we mutally remembered a lot of things told by other family members since gone, we never did figure out what kind of smoked fish was used in Harford County, MD in the 1920s to top the tomatoes. Any guesses?

The Southern Railway offers Fried Tomatoes for breakfast on its 1905 Inspection trip. Boiled salt mackerel is available – could this have been the fish? From North Carolina. New York Public Library “What’s on the Menu?” project.

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