A love affair with one of summer’s great delights.
The call of the tomato sandwich
If fate delivered you onto a deserted island, what would you miss the most? Certainly family, friends, and lovers would be at the top of the list. However, if you survived for any length of time on that island, I imagine your list would grow much longer. I think the season of the year would determine the contents of my list. Heaven forbid if I were placed on this lonely island during the summer. That's when my garden is in full swing, and I pick my first tomatoes.
I can live without a lot of things, but I cannot live without several tomato sandwiches a day in the summertime. My wife feels the same way. It's what's for lunch every day. My tomatoes will find their way into the breakfast menu too. Sunday morning in my kitchen will see grilled tomato, pepper and egg sandwiches or chopped tomato omelets. Dinner will also find tomatoes hiding under the salad or cooked down into a world-class sauce for a variety of pasta. There must be 100 ways to enjoy a tomato. But I get excited every time I know there's a tomato sandwich in my future.
The construction of a tomato sandwich should be very simple and short. White bread, mayonnaise, sliced tomato and maybe a little salt and pepper. Right? Well, not so quick. There's a large variety of bread out there to choose from these days. You can get dizzy looking around in the bread aisle. Somehow I evolved into really liking oat bread. It's always a major decision to toast it or not. Then there's mayonnaise. I guess everyone has his or her own favorite that was probably passed down through genetics. For many years we always used Dukes. One day, in a health-conscious rage, I decided to try an olive oil-based brand. Guess what? I actually liked it and even thought it tasted better.
Now, there's only one word that should never be spoken when it comes to making a real tomato sandwich: additives.
There, I said it. I must admit every once in a while I'll add a thin slice of red or white onion. Sometimes a cut-up jalapeno has been known to jump on board too. My wife will spread a little freshly made pesto onto the bread but still uses mayonnaise. I hope these confessions are met with mercy amongst you true tomato sandwich connoisseurs. I'll assure you these minor additives don't happen very often, if they do happen at all.
It's getting near lunchtime and my mouth is starting to water. There are two vine-ripe tomatoes on my window ledge and their fate has been sealed. The dog days of summer are barking loud. However, I'm at peace with myself knowing I don't have to worry about lunch until the first frost arrives.
If you don't grow your own tomatoes, I suggest you try. A classic tomato sandwich is right behind watermelon and the 4th of July when it comes to summer. I love a big bright vine-ripe tomato. I hope there's one in your near future.