“Gloria was sure she wanted but to read and dream and be fed tomato sandwiches and lemonades by some angelic servant still in a shadowy hinterland.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Beautiful and Damned)
The Trinity has arrived to save my soul. It was late coming this year and it may be blasphemy or sacrilege to speak of it in such a way…I don’t care. My deliverance is as close to a religious experience as…college football.
The heat and humidity are damning me to lethargy as I retreat to my recliner and air conditioning. When I am forced to venture into the outdoors, swarms of gnats cloud my vision and cause me to sneeze as I inhale them. Tiny vampires suck the blood from me, but I don’t become one of the undead…thankfully or not.
Stinging critters attack from both the air and land…some from underground…damn you, yellow jackets, minions from hell. To top it all off, I found a tick on my person, all bloated and ugly, an incarnation of Satan himself.
I need the “Balm of Gideon” to erase all my ills and I might just have spied it. I need to be delivered from my sins and the object of my rebirth has appeared in my suffering garden.
I was late planting due to wet weather and now we are suffering through a drought. Thunderstorms filled the skies with flashes of lightning and ear-splitting thunder…only to slide south or east, anywhere other than over my garden. Too much of one thing when you need the other, prayers unanswered.
There was a two-week period when the garden was left to its own devices due to a family emergency. My grandmother would be unhappy to see the grass in my row centers and when I returned, I found that my rabbits had eaten my green beans. A pox upon me and my laziness too. The weeds have overrun me.
The garden has suffered as have I, maybe worse as it has been set upon by the plague of squash bugs. Poxes, plagues of insects, and drought. Does sound quite Biblical.
Little green tomatoes finally appeared but haven’t gotten much larger until recently… I would not call them large. As I walked by, I saw a flash of red in sea of green. A baseball sized orb of goodness. A small goodness but I didn’t care. A ripe Cherokee Purple tomato. Nectar of my Southern gods, manna from heaven. Cherokee Purples are what my bride refers to as those “ugly” tomatoes. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I reckon ugly is too.
Deep reddish-purple skin with a green top, I carried it quickly, holding it carefully as if I were Sir Galahad protecting the Holy Grail. This was my balm, my soothing elixir, my anodyne. I knew exactly how to prepare it…a tomato sandwich, or as we said back home, a ‘mater sammich. I just need to let it cool to room temperature, so I don’t bite into hellfire and brimstone.
I finally had the last member of the trinity, a tomato to join white bread and mayonnaise. Not just any mayonnaise mind you, Duke’s Mayonnaise, the one with the yellow top. If you use Hellman’s or Miracle Whip, you might want to pray for the forgiveness of your sins. As for me, I believe it is a miracle anyone uses Miracle Whip. Mustard? Heresy!
Two slices of Sunbeam bread, you may use any white bread as long it is low in nutritional value. Its function is just to hold the mayo and tomato anyway. Whichever bread you choose should be a fresh, soft bread with little texture as it will become soaked in tomato and mayo juice. Wheat, pumpernickel, or rye simply won’t work.
I use Sunbeam because I love “Little Miss Sunbeam” gazing at me like a little blond angel while I drip tomato juice all over myself as a celebration of my baptism.
Unlike grape juice and communion wafers from my Methodist past, the tomato sandwich is the modern sacraments of a backslide soul…with a glass of sweet, lemon tea, the Southern Champagne, to wash it down. I will add a shake or two of salt to bring out the sweetness of the tomato and black pepper because I can.
I choose to eat it over my kitchen sink watching the heat outside my window ripple the air. My spirit soars like the thermals above a highway. Tomato juice and mayonnaise drip onto my small plate…that is, the juices that miss my shirt front. A heavenly stain upon me…the sign of my tomato god.
Oh my ‘mater sammich, how I love thee, praise be thy name.
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Louis Grizzard
A short history lesson. By the end of the nineteenth century, most Europeans, especially those of the upper classes, believed tomatoes were poisonous. After a long period of stigma, scientists finally discovered that tomatoes were the victims of bad information.
The bad information? Affluent Europeans used tin alloy dishes (pewter), which contained high levels of lead, to store food and to eat from. Because natural tomatoes are highly acidic, when they are put into tin alloy containers, they can react to the acid and cause acute lead poisoning. (Pewter no longer uses lead)
Another short history lesson. A tomato is a fruit…except in South Carolina. In my home state, it is a vegetable by legislative decree. It must have been a slow day at the capital.
Don Miller’s latest offering is “Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes” and may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0yXYm7o67oNCZe580f0IHGFtOAndQ4-x_K4txNuTEUZlTfZIvoD-apLtU