Tomato Sandwich Tutorial
When I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, back in 1989, I was perhaps as unprepared as any woman could have been to live in the South. I was 24, a freshly-minted Ph.D. in English, riding high on the thrill of snagging a tenure-track job. I was also Idaho through and through. My 4 years in Ohio had left no trace on the wild-westiness of my upbringing, and I had no idea what I was about to get into.
I learned, slowly and imperfectly, that I would never, never understand Southern culture, and that Southerners, although on the whole a lovely and charming people, would never, never understand Western culture. But still I fell madly in love with an irresistably Southern Southerner, and she taught me how to make tomato sandwiches. You should know, too.
Start with fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes. Pick them yourself and wash them gently.
Toast some good-quality storebought white bread. I know, I don’t usually advise you to use store bread, but only store bread will do. It shouldn’t be the very cheapest kind, but don’t get all fancy and use ciabatta or artisanal sourdough. Just a nice squishy white sandwich loaf will do.
Spread your toast with Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise. Don’t think that vegennaise, or homemade aioli, or (God forbid!) Miracle Whip or Sandwich Spread or salad cream will work. It won’t.
Slice your tomato with a serrated knife into lovely juicy rounds about 3/4 of an inch thick.
Pave one slice of toast with tomato, using ingenuity to get a single layer of tomato covering as much of the bread as possible without overlapping. Salt and pepper your tomato generously.
Cover with your other slice of toast. Don’t try to eat this without a plate. Juice will drip.
And there you have it: the sandwich which defines synergy–the interaction of the simple ingredients creates something much bigger than the constituent elements. The essence of summertime in a hand-sized package.