Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tomato Sandwich (Southern Italy Style)
Summer in the South. I know, many areas of the country are still thinking about 90° days, we are living them. My garden is bursting, I have already picked hot banana peppers, snipped off bunches of basil, cilantro and parsley, and my first plum tomato is reddening as we type with about 5 friends a week or so behind. I generally do not have the patience for tomatoes, but I found these Patio Tomatoes and decided to give them a try. They seem to be okay thus far, although they are a little scorched. We have had such incredible rains followed by intense heat, it makes a sauna out of the plants and tomatoes are especially prone to suffer. I suspect if they were planted in the ground it wouldn't be an issue. But the garden thrives.
I still frequent the farmer's markets for additional produce, and the Ripley Tomatoes are the best summer delight. Ripley is a town in Tennessee famous for their tomatoes, and sadly I don't think anyone else is lucky enough to get them, I am certain they are a West Tennessee phenomenon. The Ripley Tomato Festival is in early July, but if I'm close to getting tomatoes, they must be too. The huge ones I bought at the Farmer's Market came from Hardeman County, just East of Memphis, but it won't be long and all you will see is Ripley (heck, a Ripley sign is a sure fire way to sell tomatoes).
Then comes the question of how to eat them. This question in the South can stir up as many arguments as asking dressing or stuffing, Hellman's or Duke's, wet ribs or dry. Southerner's love their tomato sandwich. The white bread is a non-negotiable, a slice or two of tomato, and mayo. Here you go, Duke's or Hellman's? A little salt and pepper too.
Delicious I'm sure, but not my kind of food. I like the way we eat tomatoes in the South of Italy. A slice of bread, preferable artisan like a ciabatta or baguette, grilled dry on a cast iron grill until toasty, nice dark grill marks. Then top it with chopped tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh basil. From the garden please. Believe it or not, a little sea salt and fresh pepper can make grocery store tomatoes from another state or another country perk right up. And before you dare take a bite, drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil. In the summer time, paper plate and lots of napkins, in the winter, china and a nice chianti. Now that's what I'm talking about. Last Sunday we rushed off to church and never had breakfast, so when we got home we were famished. A little tomato bruschetta was perfect and we crumbled a little bacon on top for an Italian BLT. Molto Deliciozo!