When I was five years old, I met a girl in my neighborhood named Donica. We became fast friends, and spent many years running around our little country lake together. Like most good childhood friends, and especially one with older teenage sisters, Donica opened up new worlds for me. Hanging out at their house, I learned about the Beatles' White Album, Frank Sinatra (her dad liked to sing along), old reruns of Bonanza, why a striped skirt will probably make you look fat, Gone With The Wind, and chihuahuas.
Perhaps most importantly, I remember the sunny summer afternoon, after we had been swimming for hours and thereby working up ravenous appetites, when Donica taught me about the glories of a fresh tomato sandwich.
To this day, I can think of no finer summertime treat.
And to this day, I think of Donica every time I eat one.
Over the years, I have honed and perfected this technique to produce a warm, airy and delicate taste sensation. Here are my best tips:
Toast one slice of bread.
While the toaster is working its magic, slice up a home-grown tomato, fresh and warm from the garden.
Slice the tomatoes thin and cut lots - I usually pile on as many slices many as my bread can possible hold. Today, I only had one tomato so this sandwich is a little skimpy, but it was still fantastic.
Grab the mayo and the salt and pepper. Be ready to work fast.
The very instant that the toast pops, carefully divide the slice of bread into two skinny slices with a serrated knife. It's a tricky maneuver but worth the effort.
Quickly spread a layer of the mayo, then pile on the tomatoes and top with salt and pepper.
Smoosh the sandwich shut and eat it quickly, while it's still warm.
Experience the heaven.
When timed properly, the heat of the toast melts the mayonnaise just a bit, which then infuses the sun-warmed tomatoes and melds the whole sandwich together. With a good tomato, the flavors are delicate and sweet, and the thin layer of toast adds a subtle crunch.
Repeat many times. I usually eat at least two of these beauties, but in order to get that nice warm delicate flavor, the sandwiches must be always made one at a time.
Munching this amazing treat takes me back to my childhood, back to a time when 15-year-old girls seemed like goddesses and grown men singing mysterious songs on the record player filled me with confusion and awe. Gee, it's good to be back home.