The best thing we eat this summer will take us three minutes to minutes to make. It will involve only five ingredients, a serrated knife, and not a single charcoal briquette. I’m talking about the tomato sandwich. Not the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich; not the grilled-cheese-and-tomato sandwich; not the tomato-mozzarella-and-basil sandwich: the tomato sandwich. Period. It is a thing of simple, summery, kid-friendly beauty: After enduring ten depressing months of the color-enhanced Styrofoam junk that passes for tomatoes at the Stop ‘N Shop, it’s like, from out of nowhere, the wind suddenly kicks up and the dark clouds part…and thank you Jesus, blue sky punches through. Tomatoes! Real tomatoes! Flavor! Texture! Sweetness! Over the course of the next eight weeks or so — between now and, say, mid-September, when tomatoes are at their meaty, juicy peak and the heirloom bin at the farmers’ market is positively en fuego – we’ll inhale as many of these as we can. Last weekend, we ate them for lunch on Friday and Saturday, then as a quick dinner after a long day of driving on Sunday. And we ate them greedily, too, as though the supply was finite and they were about to run out—which, actually, they are. So we scarf what we can (always stopping to ask the kids as we devour them, “How good is this?”) and then suffer through the gray, mealy, tasteless months ahead…until we can do it all again. -- Andy
The Tomato Sandwich
-Country white bread
-Hellmann’s mayonnaise (yes, Hellmann’s; no other mayo will do)
-Tomatoes of various colors and varieties, sliced
-Sea salt and pepper
Take a few slices of a hearty white bread. (We like something with a little gravitas to it. We use something called, appropriately enough, Canadian White, which is available at T. Joe’s.) Toast them. Lightly coat each slice with mayo, but—this is crucial—be sure to do this while the toast is still warm. You want the mayo to get melty, you want to get the oil going, but you don’t want to mess with the awesomeness of the fruit. Now: arrange two or three slices of tomato on top of the toast. Let the kids pick the colors, mixing red, yellow and green, heirloom and non, Jersey and beefsteak, whatever. Sprinkle generously with salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Some people also add some fresh basil here, but why risk destabilizing the atom? Why mess with perfection?