One of my favorite summertime treats is a big sloppy, with juice running down your arms, tomato sandwich made with fresh ripe tomatos straight from the garden.
Through the years I have perfected what I consider to be the ultimate tomato sandwich as follows:
A. The Ingredients
1. Tomatoes: You must start with a summer-ripened tomato. Any color will do, but it has to be dead-ripe, succulent, and bursting with juice. It should never be refrigerated.
2. Mayonnaise: You need mayonnaise, NOT ‘Miracle Whip’…Miracle Whip is a nice condiment for making potato salad but should never be used on sandwiches as it’s strong flavor overpowers the other fillings. I f you don’t have any mayo on hand, STOP now and go to the store and get some. Mayo is part of the magic of a perfect tomato sandwich.
3. Bread: Two lightly toasted slices of that soft and squishy bread that you never admit buying. You don’t want highly flavored bread that detracts from the filling.
4. Onion: Sweet onion sliced, preferably Vidalias if in season.
5. Last but not least, salt.
B The Assembly:
While the bread is toasting, use your sharpest knife (if you don’t have a Cutco #1721, you should get one it is the best tomato slicing knife in existance) to slice it vertically in 1/2 inch slices & then cut off the tops of the slices that have bellybuttons where the stem was. Peel the onion and slice it horizontally in 1/8th inch slices. Slather the mayonnaise on both slices of the toast, making sure it flows all the way to the edges, perhaps with an artful drip over the edge. Artfully fit the tomatoes onto the toast cutting it to fit the best you can. Lightly salt, put the top on and VOLA!
C The Eating:
Sandwich in hand, you may now move to the sink and start eating. Grasp the sandwich with both hands, shielding the backside as the tomatoes sometimes try to escape by squishing out the back. Have plenty of napkins or paper towels handy, as the juice will run down your chin or your hands. Optionally put your sandwich on a plate and eat at the table, don’t forget the paper towels.
The first bite is all about texture—the soft bread, the velvety emulsion of mayonnaise, the luscious tomato, bursting with juice – a unique and wonderful sensory experience. By the third bite, be ready for the harmony of flavors in which yeasty bread, creamy mayonnaise, crisp onions and tart-acid-sweet tomato come together, accentuated with the salt. Don’t hurry. Savor the flavors.
Tomato sandwiches are about as basic as you can get, every one of them is delicious. In the summer I eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in between. And every last one of them is perfect. At dinner the perfect accompaniment is a cob of fresh buttered & salted sweet corn.