The Sandwich ~ Sean of the South

by Sean Dietrich
Sean of the South

Do this. Get a tomato. Not just any tomato. A Slocomb, Alabama, tomato. Make sure the tomato is firecracker red and softer than the hind cheeks of a 2-month-old. Find a serrated knife. Cut said tomato into thick slices about the width of the unabridged edition of Shogun.

Tomatoes from Geneva County, Alabama, are different from common varieties. They are superior tomatoes.

In fact, top archaeology scholars at Columbia University now believe that the original Garden of Eden was located just north of Highway 52 in Geneva County. And most experts agree that the forbidden fruit consumed by Adam and Eve was originally purchased from the Hendrix Farm Produce tomato stand.

Next, find two slices of Sunbeam bread. In a pinch, you can use Bunny Bread, Wonderbread, or Colonial bread. But stay away from any bread with packaging labels that read something like, “59 whole grains and seeds!” or “3,234 grams of dietary fiber!” This isn’t real bread, but an abrasive material meant for sanding boat hulls.

Consequently, if all you have in your pantry is “gluten-free” or “keto” bread, please stop reading here and go back to California.

Once you have your white, floppy, flaccid, tasteless bread ready, open a jar of Duke’s mayonnaise. Duke’s is the brand with the canary yellow lid, manufactured and packaged by real evangelical seminary graduates, so you know it’s sacred, mostly.

The essential elements of a perfect tomato sandwich. Hint: make sure the tomato is from Slocomb, Alabama.

If you don’t have any Duke’s, you’re not totally out of luck. Blue Plate mayonnaise will also work nicely. Bama mayonnaise is also a winner.

Hellmann’s, however, isn’t fit for consumption by a golden retriever. Similarly, Miracle Whip is neither a “miracle” nor a “whip,” but the brainchild of communist sympathizers who don’t love the Lord. And Kraft mayo is industrial doorknob lubricant.

It bears mentioning, if all you have in your refrigerator is a kind of mayonnaise labeled “light” or “low-fat,” please forfeit your tomato to someone who will use it correctly and resume doing CrossFit until your buttocks turn into tiny shriveled prunes.

Next, use a No. 8 masonry trowel to apply approximately one gallon of approved mayonnaise onto your limp, lifeless, nutrition-free bread. If the bread is still visible after mayonnaise application, you did it wrong.

Step Four. Carefully place slices of tomato onto your prepared bread. If, by chance, your bread has already absorbed too much mayonnaise and tomato juices and is now disintegrating into a papier-mâché-like puddle on your kitchen counter, and it no longer resembles bread, congratulations, you’re on the right track.

Salt and pepper to taste.

If you discover that you are tempted to add cheese or onions or lettuce or something else weird to your sandwich, thereby violating the Holy Trinity of tomatoes, mayo, and bread, please step away from the cutting board. Take deep breaths, open a can of Natural Light, and start sipping until the urge passes.

Next, place both segments of your sandwich together slowly and softly. Warning: Do not compress sandwich. Do not cut sandwich in half. Do not even blink or your sandwich will fall apart.

Now, gently lift your sandwich—very gently—as though you are assisting in a heart transplant operation. Walk across the kitchen and stand over the sink. Say grace silently.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

To eat sandwich, open mouth wide, place one corner into mouth, and bite firmly. Your tomato wedges should slip from between the pieces of bread, shooting forward, falling directly into your sink, leaving you with two naked pieces of bread. If this does not happen, you did not use enough mayonnaise.

Retrieve tomato hunks from the basin of your nasty, crud-covered, salmonella-encrusted sink while cussing liberally.

Replace mangled remains of tomato onto sandwich and attempt to eat sandwich a second time, making sure to mash your soggy, glutenous, snot-like bread pieces together until they are indistinguishable from lumps of Elmer’s Glue.

After the third or fourth bite, the front of your shirt should be stained red, covered in tiny seeds, and your kitchen should look like a hog killing has recently been performed on the linoleum.

When your sandwich expenditure is finished, you can slap yourself heartily on the shoulder because you have just eaten a proper tomato sandwich. You may now recite the ceremonial benediction uttered by Alabamians statewide every summer:

“Thank you, Lord, for bananas, Granny Smiths, and Tropicana. But most of all, for all the ’maters, raised in Slocomb, Alabama.”

Amen.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, The Tallahassee Democrat, Good Grit, South Magazine, Alabama Living, the Birmingham News, Thom Magazine, The Mobile Press Register, and he has authored seven books.

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