Honest, decent tomatoes needed to build proper summer sandwich

Arnold Dyre

Commentary By Arnold Dyre

    Last week I exhaustively discussed peanut butter sandwiches, causing GrenadaStar’s Managing Editor Nanette Laster to tell me that I needed to write a piece on the proper construction of a tomato sandwich.
    Nanette went on to advise that her own perfect tomato sandwich required a big slice of a good, homegrown tomato between two slices of “light” bread and nothing but Blue Plate mayonnaise would do. Nanette warned that such a sandwich should be “eaten over the sink!”
    Well, indeed, Nanette has just about described the perfect tomato sandwich, but I will confess to being an expert on the subject and am not hesitant to expand on the matter. From mid-June to Labor Day, I pretty much live off tomato sandwiches!
    Nanette, I understand that “light” bread is probably the most widely-used bread for a tomato sandwich here in the South and, for a great many years, nothing but Wonder Bread and Blue Plate mayonnaise would do for me. But, truthfully, most any kind of bread will do if the bread is fresh and, if not fresh, lightly toasted.
    Nowadays, there are a lot of good brands of mayonnaise out there that are just as proper on a tomato sandwich as Blue Plate. Homemade mayonnaise and fresh-baked homemade bread work mighty good, too. I have consumed many a biscuit and tomato sandwich even without mayonnaise!
    My personal preference for tomato sandwich bread is whatever is the cheapest-but-still-good whole-wheat bread.
    For me, the perfect tomato sandwich has a dab of mustard added to the mayonnaise spread. Of course, I put the mayonnaise on both slices of the bread. I add the mustard generally to just one of the slices, lightly on top of the mayo.
    These new squirt bottles of mustard make the application simple, but you should always remember to shake the mustard container well before squirting or even make the first squirt into the sink. Mustard will separate when sitting and, if you are not careful, the first squirt will be too watery and will make your sandwich bread soggy.
    Many people use salt and pepper on their tomato sandwiches. I generally use only pepper.
    Sometimes, I pepper directly on top of the mayonnaise on both slices of the bread. Other times, I pepper directly onto the tomato. I also sometimes use actual slices of fresh homegrown peppers to the sandwich.
    I frequently add lettuce and/or slices of cheese. Of course, a couple or maybe three slices of bacon go pretty good, but you have to watch yourself because, if you keep adding things, you might not be able to still call it a tomato sandwich.
    The primary ingredient of a tomato sandwich is the tomato itself. My mother always peeled the tomatoes she sliced to put on a sandwich. I seldom bother with peeling.
    Mister Jim Moore always grew tomatoes big enough that one slice would make a sandwich with tomato hanging out around all sides. I have used tomatoes so small that nine slices might be required to fix the sandwich.
    The main most thing is that it has got to be a good decent, honest tomato. That means homegrown in sunlight and vine-ripened.
    These days, I pretty much just ignore any tomato offered in a grocery store. Frankly, you have to be careful of roadside vendors as well. As revealed in a story I did some years back, a man in bib-overalls selling tomatoes on the side of the road or even under the big shade tree at the funeral home in Coffeeville, Miss., does not guarantee  an honest tomato.
    Tomato sandwiches are good for breakfast, lunch, supper and in-between snacks. Often the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before retiring at night is to have myself a tomato sandwich.
    I recently met a lady from up North, who is a little older than I, and she did not know that you eat rice with gravy on it.
   And, she had never even heard of a tomato sandwich. Poor thing!


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