Life Revolves Around the Sacred Tomato Sandwich…

Plain Tomato Sandwich with Mayo
In-season Hamptons tomato sandwich — perfecto!, Photo: Stacy Dermont

The crowds are gone but the great red balls of pleasure are “outstanding in the field.”

I’ve been making and canning tomato goodness since July—sauce, dill pickled green tomatoes, tomatoes and basil, piccalilli, hot sauce. I look forward to indulging in all of these summer treats this winter—but nothing beats a tomato sandwich.

Our area tomato plants are looking kind of beaten down, no longer growing upward, yellowing, but covered with ripening fruit that glistens in the late summer sun—green, yellow, orange, red, purple…

First the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes came in, then some yellow heirlooms and around the same time those bright red Fourth of Julys. I don’t grow Fourth of Julys, I had to wait for some Cherokee Purples and various Roma tomatoes to ripen in my garden before I could indulge in the ultimate Hamptons luxury…the tomato sandwich.

The Tomato Lady has been set up under a tent across from Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor for over a month now. I visit her about twice a week to supplement my own garden’s bounty. I’ve taken to making a second, very special lunch of a tomato sandwich.

Rose Dios, owner of Stitch boutique and a financial advisor in Southampton, told me years ago that she enjoys a daily second lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Rose is a svelte one. She’s up early every morning to take her dogs for a run on the beach. She made a second lunch sound totally reasonable. But a second lunch of a tomato sandwich may defy reason.

There’s no such thing as a tomato sandwich out of season. No one would venture that. It’s all about that juicy, local, sun-ripened goodness. For me it doesn’t matter what bread it’s on—baguette, cheap whole wheat, in a pinch a hamburger bun might do. Just slather the bread with mayo and pile on some room temperature fruit lusciousness and it’s a party in your mouth. (I sometimes contemplate adding a slice of provolone but never do.)

I’ve taken to indulging in a fine tomato sandwich every day that I get home before dinnertime, which is about three times a week—plus every Saturday after I venture forth to the Sag Harbor Farmers Market. It’s the flavor, no it’s the texture, no wait, it’s that juicy bit—it’s everything here today and gone by October…

Last Thursday, as I crossed the threshold to my home, I thought about that day’s tomato sandwich-to-be. Then I thought how very sad it would be if, while I was at work that day, my home had burned down. It’s a century-old brick place. The interior would burn mighty hot. What if it burned so hot that it took the garden with it—along with my son’s baby pictures, my grandmother’s sewing machine, all of my clothes and jewelry and our passports?

It occurred to me that if that happened, I’d sit right down on this concrete threshold and have a good cry because I’d be out of that day’s tomato sandwich.

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