The Tomato Sandwich

By | Monday, September 21, 2020 2 comments

Some years ago, a girlfriend introduced me to tomato sandwiches. When she told me we were having them for lunch, I thought she was crazy. It turns out she was anything but. Tomato sandwiches are simplicity itself, and deliciousness itself. 

There is no recipe for a tomato sandwich. To look at one is to know the recipe. I like mine as simple as can be; two slices of really good bread (I like a slightly sweeter bread); mayonnaise on one or both pieces; a thick slice of a beefsteak tomato fresh from the garden or farm-stand, salt and pepper. But you can use whatever bread you like - toasted or untoasted. Mayonnaise or not is up to you - or substitute something else, or leave  off dressing altogether, relying on the tomato to provide moistness. One slice of a giant beefsteak or big-boy tomato, or multiple slices of smaller tomatoes, or even a pile of thin tomato slices. The only thing that is important is that each element must be excellent – being such a simple, pared down collection, each must shine on its own. 

Here I am using a bread sweetened (and colored) with honey and caramel coloring, with gray salt.

As I have come to understand, tomato sandwiches really aren’t madness. Cucumber sandwiches are just the same – slices of a savory fruit on bread. [From a botanist’s perspective, both tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits.] Watercress sandwiches live in the same flavor-space. Arguably bruschetta is at its most basic a simple bread, garlic, and olive oil affair. I am told that after a long night of drinking, nothing pleases some in Asia more than rice with soy sauce and sesame oil – possibly with sliced scallions if one is feeling wild. I have no doubt that around the world there is a simple, savory something enjoyed in each and every culture. 

So, go nuts. Have a tomato sandwich. Then tell me who’s crazy.

The kind we grow here: 'Boxcar Willie'

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  1. Andrew, Growing up in Alameda, Ca , from 7-8th grade (1967-68) I could go home for lunch as it was only 2 blocks , and plow down a pair of tomato sandwiches on Kilpatricks white bread (Martha's Bread was good too) with Miracle Whip , followed by half a bag of Mother's Chocolate chip cookies and milk . The taste has never left me . If my Mother ever made a salad for dinner it was tomato , iceberg lettuce , miracle whip ,salt pepper , and we couldn't get enough of it. I still eat the sandwich once in awhile , but on toasted rye now and with a healthier mayo ....and will seek that miracle whip taste in an egg and dairy free version , hopefully , regards Harry Schaefer in BC (I too have a pair of seltzer bottles to fix and yes, Hunky Dory is a great record )


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