When I was a kid my Mom, as most moms do, drove me crazy. As soon as tomato season started every time she would bite into a tomato, and I mean every time, she would swoon. Really. Not just get a bit excited, but the “do you need smelling salts’ kind of swoon. She would take one bite and in a fit of slight rapture she would exclaim “oh….. this is sooooooo good”. “Yes Mom, we know. They are good.” we would say. “No.” she would say, ” but these are SOOOOOOO good”. Sigh. As a teenager it was mortifying.
Then I grew up. I tasted the big box grocer excuse for a tomato and I had to set mortification aside. I had to admit how right she was and how much I have always loved the tomato. Summer actually isn’t summer without a fresh from the garden tomato. Even when I was going through my silly no-carbs phase the start of tomato season meant one thing, a tomato sandwich. Humble, fresh cut toasted white bread, a smear of mayonnaise, a couple massive slices of tomato, a small taste of extra aged white cheddar and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Divinely transporting. Swoon worthy in fact. As I take that first crunch every summer and the tomato juice drips off my chin all I can think is one thing. Life is good.
Predictably, as with most things, every summer I go a little overboard. I find an excuse to eat a tomato sandwich variant at least once a day. With a bagel for breakfast, piled high with avocado and greens for lunch or as a tartine for dinner. And, of course, (and really, can you trust someone who doesn’t want this?) a breakfast-for-dinner BLT.
So at least once before tomato season is over, please, for the sake of your sanity, find a beautiful farm fresh tomato, grab your bread of choice (gluten free, dairy free, made by angels – honestly, it doesn’t matter, just pick your favourite), put a schmear of mayo/ pesto/cream cheese/cashew cream/chevre/tapenade or hummus on the bread and top it with a few gorgeous thick cut slices of tomato. Open faced, layered, toasted, grilled or plain. With cheddar, brie, blue cheese, pepper, sea salt, truffle salt, pimento, smoked peppers, arugula, lettuce, bacon, roast chicken or sprouts, the options are endless. Just build yourself your version of perfect tomato sandwich. Let the juice drip, breathe, and remind yourself summer is short, that you might not be the jaded teenager anymore but that life is good.
Then, when you’ve wiped off your chin, convinced yourself you’re an adult and really don’t need to make one more, join me in apologizing on behalf of teenagers everywhere. Dear Mom, I’m sorry. You were, and are, right. There is not much better than a fresh tomato. They are soooooo good.