How do you taste summer? What are those foods which fill your heat induced cravings after a long day of work, play, and other recreational endeavors? Are you a watermelon person? Personally, I’ve got nothing against the melon. Despite its extraterrestrial vibe, I’ll eat a piece of watermelon if you’ll cut and hand it to me. I’ll never go to the store, buy one, and go through the slaughter ritual for my benefit. I don’t love it that much. I know some people who’d kill others to kill a watermelon. I live with a few.
Perhaps you’re a hot dog and hamburger person. It’s hard to screw up the most basic foods of any summer cook out. Unless you’re inattentive, drunk, or just plain stupid (I’m not ruling out a combination of all three); most people can cook hot dogs and hamburgers on grill. Like generations of hunter-gathers who proceeded us on the African savanna, we place the meat and the fire and wait until it’s done. Find your bread, pick your condiments, and you can be less hungry. My question is this: are you satisfied? When the last bite of the burger’s gone and the hot dog has vanished, what’s next? Another one! There’s always room for one more, one more dog, chips, or something else. In the realm of the traditional summer cookout, nothing seems to satisfy our deepest longings.
If I want to get full, I need to go to the garden (or at least to the vegetable aisle). For me nothing cures summer hunger like a tomato sandwich.
Do you eat tomato sandwiches? It’s best to find the ripest, freshest tomato possible. As I said, one right out of a garden is the best option. Pick through the ones in grocery store to find one, that when you touch it; the juice might explode in your face. Bring that tomato home, wash it, or peel it if you want. This is your call. The important thing is to slice it in such a way so it fits between two robust pieces of bread you’ve lathered with Duke’s Mayonnaise. Next, add enough salt and pepper to clearly discolor the mayo. You want to see the black flecks of pepper scattered all over the mayonnaise and tomato slices. Put your sandwich together. When I’m in the mood, I’ll find a dill pickle to eat on the side.
When I eat a tomato sandwich, I’m satisfied. I will go to the store to buy one or two tomatoes for the purposes of making a sandwich. I have never gone to buy a melon, strawberries, or peaches for any reason (unless my wife told me to). Tomato sandwiches not only quench my hunger but they do something to fill my soul. I can’t explain it. I can’t explain why God loves humanity either but I keep preaching on Sunday mornings.
Hamburgers never calm me down. Picnics and cookouts are high stress situations. Like Prozac growing from vines in the backyard; tomatoes, mayonnaise, bread, salt, and pepper have done more for my mental health than any Miller Time moments around a grill watching meat burn. Maybe you ought to give it a try. Go get a tomato, a jar of pickles, and see if it doesn’t do something for your soul. If you need someone to eat with look for me in front of the church, at the picnic tables. I’ll bring the tea.