The tomato sandwich is a veritable summertime classic, but experts are divided on ingredients

You say, “tomato, ” I say, “It’s not that simple.”

Summer means muggy days, nights at the swimming pool and, for those who love them, lunches comprised solely of tomato sandwiches.

To be clear, that’s the tomato sandwich. Not the bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich. Not the peanut butter-and-tomato sandwich( yes, that’s a thing ). A sandwich starring the tomato in a solo act.

According to Virginia Willis of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization that, “documents, analyzes, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South, ” tomatoes originated in South America, and by 1781 were cultivated in the U.S.

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These nightshades( the classification of flowering plants to which tomatoes belong) were in New Orleans as early as 1812, where the Southern summers the ideal hot and humid growing conditions. Today, many varieties of tomatoes are grown nationwide and tomato sandwiches are a veritable summertime classic.

You might think the love of a tomato sandwich would unite food lovers over one of life’s simple pleasures.

You would be wrong.

Tomato sandwiches are heatedly debated year after year, and every aspect of their building is picked apart from the bread on up.

In fact, food novelist and editor Kathleen Purvis’ 2009 Charlotte Observer articleon the tomato sandwich garnered, “the most number of remarks I’ve had to report for abuse.”

Purvis tells Mashable people are dogmatic about their tomato sandwiches in part because anyone who attains your favorite sandwich differently than you do, “violates the Mama Rule: The only right way was Mama’s way.”

It’s easy to agree with food novelist and editor Kat Kinsman that your sandwich’s tomatoes should ideally arrive straight-out from a farmer or off your neighbor’s vine without ever having known the chill of your refrigerator. Many( if not all) tomato sandwich devotees side with renowned gardener John Coykendall, who recommends, “old, inexpensive white bread.”

However, that’s where the harmony objective. Tomato sandwich addicts virtually come to jolts about seasonings and additional ingredients.

Purists tend to favor mayonnaise, salt and pepper as the only additions.

The proper type of mayonnaise is far from widely accepted. Duke’s( a regional mayonnaise brand) is the popular choice for many Southerners.

Seriously, is there anything better? #dukesmayonnaise #dukesmayo #tomatosandwich

A photo posted by Lynn Donihe (@ willowpinestudio) on Jul 26, 2016 at 8: 32 am PDT

There is a Hellman’s contingency.

Even Miracle Whip, with its tangy sweetness, has fans.

Sandwich renegades add herbs, bacon and even peanut butter to the mix.

If you don’t like mayonnaise,( and yes, mayonnaise, you have haters) you aren’t alone in your mayo-free sandwich endeavors 😛 TAGEND

Such emphatic notions about something as seemingly benign as a sandwich lie more than tastebud deep. The humble tomato sandwich touches a universal, primal heartstring that speaks to nostalgia, tradition and even the future.

Purvis tells, “In a world that’s overwhelmed with big things, small things are the only things that we feel can control. It’s easier to go to the mattresses over bacon on a tomato sandwich than to confront global terrorism and childhood starvation. “

In days of uncertainty and trauma, it is comforting to depend on something you know is reliable, deeply personal and above all, delicious.

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