The Consolation of Tomato Sandwiches

Here we are at the end of August, traditionally one of Maine’s most beautiful months. Time was when the weather was hot—around 80°F—and dry during the day, yet cool enough for blankets at night. It seems this era has passed, and now we veer between a humid 100°F heat followed by a forty degree drop to 60°F. So disorienting, especially to an old timer like me who remembers how sweet August once was in northern New England. It fills me with such sadness to think that those days are probably gone for good, that future generations of Mainers will never know the glories of a Maine August when the weather was nearly perfect.

Fortunately, despite the unwelcome change in the weather, tomatoes still ripen in August in Maine. In my yard by the edge of the woods, I only get six hours of sun at most during the summer. But I have found a variety of tomatoes—Juliet—that actually grows well in part sun/part shade.

Here they are on the vine.

And here are these gems in a bowl.

Juliet is a grape tomato, firm yet sweet and tart, perfect for many uses—sauces, salads, on their own as a side, and, especially, for tomato sandwiches.

Southern readers would probably cry foul if I claimed tomato sandwiches were a Maine speciality. Therefore, I won’t do that. However, old-time Mainers are as keen on tomato sandwiches as they are, say, on blueberry pie or corn on the cob. Tomato sandwiches are definitely a thing in Maine in August and September.

Simplicity in itself, tomato sandwiches consist of three ingredients, garden-fresh tomatoes, bread, and mayonnaise. All right, there is a fourth ingredient if you are so inclined—salt.

Some folks like white bread, untoasted. I am not one of them. I want a good whole-grain bread, and I want it to be toasted, thank you very much.

As I was making this sandwich, Clif asked if I wanted lettuce on it, too. I gave him a pitying look that indicated he should know better. After all, Clif is from Maine. But alas he does not like raw tomatoes and is thus unfamiliar with the protocol of a proper tomato sandwich.

Clif tried to defend himself. “You would have lettuce on a BLT.”

Yes, you would, but a tomato sandwich is not a BLT, and Clif received another pitying look.

With tomato sandwiches, you have a perfect combination of crunch, sweet, tart, smooth, and salt. With such deliciousness, I can almost forgive the high heat and humidity that is now August in Maine.



Nifty Posts from Some of the Lovely Blogs I Follow:

Michele, of Rabbit Patch Diary, writes movingly of her eldest granddaughter starting school and other big changes.

In Change is Hard, Dawn finds beauty close to home, despite Covid, a hurricane, and other shattering events in this country.

On Etikser, rain provides the windows with a dreamy palette.

On Thistles and Kiwi, small pleasures—food and flowers—are still to be had, despite the uptick in Covid cases in New Zealand.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring My Backyard, is inspired by a trio of seventy-year-old men.





64 thoughts on “The Consolation of Tomato Sandwiches”

  1. I love tomatoes in any form, but especially raw. Your sandwich looks tasty and I enjoy seeing the tomatoes still on the vine.

    1. You have made my very favorite tomato sandwich! I like mine the exact same way and I am enjoying our home grown tomatoes. Our weather is strange also. Thunderclouds and humidity during the summer in southern California feels unusual. I hope you will have cooler days to enjoy your patio and pretty garden.

      1. In Maine, only two months do we get fresh tomatoes—August and September. So delicious. The heat has broken, and I hope it doesn’t come back. But who knows? I bet the thunderclouds and humidity does feel strange to you.

  2. Your tomatoes look so much better than mine. I’m still hoping they’ll do better in these last weeks. And that sandwich!! Yeah, that looks yummy.

  3. You may well be right about tomato sandwiches being a Maine thing. The first one I ever had was in high school when visiting my sister in Wells. Homemade wheat bread, a huge slice still warm from the sun, which was as big as the bread slice and lots of mayo. Can’t beat it! YUM!

  4. Oh, I love tomato sandwiches, and I agree tomatoes and mayo. I don’t toast my bread, but the next time I will just to try it. The weather, well, you know I agree with you. Summer as New Englanders knew it seems to be gone, and it will be missed greatly.

  5. Oh I absolutely love a tomato sandwich….in the middle of summer with the small tomatoes just picked off the vine….thanks for reminding me, those small things in life are the big pleasures these days!

  6. That’s exactly how I prefer my tomato sandwich, although from time to time I’ll add some bacon for the ‘salty’ taste. Toasted whole wheat bread, mayo, and sliced tomatoes. I grew up with BLTs, but when I became old and wise I dumped the lettuce and learned the joys of simplification.

  7. Your tomatoes are beautiful. I have been enjoying tomato sandwiches and look forward to having them every year. Keep enjoying those yummy tomatoes.

    1. That was my first thought about tomato sandwiches – ‘soggy’. However, I guess toasting the bread first would help.

  8. That looks delicious! And now I am hungry so I will have to go and make a meal! drat!

  9. Tomato sandwiches are heavenly. I’ve tried many varieties of them. I grew up with soft white bread, Miracle Whip, and tomatoes from my mother’s garden. I gave up Miracle Whip a few decades ago, and now prefer my sandwiches on sourdough (toasted, please) with mayo and salt & pepper.

    Your tomatoes are beautiful. Ours always look like they have gone through rough weather (usually, they have — we tend to go through long, dry periods followed by heavy rains from tropical systems).

  10. Laurie, I empathize with your frustrations over the weather. Here in Central Illinois, we’ve had the same problem: far too hot and especially too muggy for this time of year. I guess we’re supposed to blame climate change (can’t foist everything onto the pandemic, right?!?) You’ve got a good-looking sandwich there … and some mighty fine tomatoes. Too bad we can’t just reach into our screens and grab one or two!

  11. Now that I’m a fan of tomatoes I’m going to have to try that delicious sandwich!!🙂 Wonderful photos and I’ve been hoping the last few years that our weather will return to the old pattern, but I might have to finally give up after this summer.

  12. Looks like you’ve grown a great crop. My tomatoes have also done well, the best ever I think. Don’t you think that home-grown tomatoes taste so much better than the ones we buy in the supermarket?

  13. White bread, tomatoes, butter, salt. I am a simple man and fancy bread plays no part in my sandwiches. We have just started picking our tomatoes this week – mainly grown in hanging baskets. Take some watering, but the yields are good.

  14. I am chuckling at the withering looks you casted upon Clif – maybe wives are just obligated to do so. I certainly do, so I am smiling in empathy, & sympathy for our long-suffering and unknowing husbands!

    The step-by-step images of your sandwich are so enticing. I have spelt bread, mayo, tiny grape tomatoes. I think I will me one. No lettuce.

      1. I did. But as I was chomping on my sandwich, it occured to me that your sandwich would be way tastier as your tomatoes would be superior as well. Oh well.

  15. We slice our grape tomatoes into 1/3 to 1/4’s to dehydrate for winter salads. As to that sun and woods, several of our neighbor marvel at our gardens. They forget that we cut the forest back about 60 feet from our cabin, mostly for fire safety. But, this has the added benefit of opening up the garden to more sun light. They want to keep their trees right up to their decks and cabins. They grow nice ferns and mosses, but not tomatoes, etc. – Oscar

  16. Well done, Laurie – an excellent crop. Your toastie looks very tasty, although I would swop the mayo for a little cheese which I dare say would meet your approval no more than lettuce. Some ladies in Jackson remember me as the strange one who asks for tomato on her cheese toastie – here it’s as common as you like. It’s funny how sandwiches fillings are quite fixed in our minds, even in a nation that thinks nothing of offering mac and cheese with a steak. I’m prattling on about sandwiches, all the time hoping you and yours are OK after the storm.

  17. Hi Laurie
    Indeed a traditional tomato sandwich is not a BLT / ha!
    And we have been making salsa with the remainder of our Virginia tomatoes ☀️☀️☀️

  18. I’m with you on the toasted tomato sandwich. That’s how I remember them growing up. The toast helps with the extra juice from the tomatoes. They are so tasty. I’m glad you’ve found a good variety for your growing conditions. Nothing says summer like garden tomatoes.

    I share your sadness about summer these days. We used to spend time outdoors in the evenings, chatting with friends, or walking the neighborhood. Now we’re indoors hiding from smoky skies, poor air quality and often-excessive heat. I’m grateful that we don’t suffer from your humidity, but summer’s are not what they used to be.

  19. I’m all over this blog, with your Juliet tomatoes that will grow in partial shade! We have trees all around, so we don’t have one big garden, just multiple smaller areas where there is sun. Juliets are on my list for next year.
    There is NOTHING like a tomato sandwich! This year, our favorite was a “green zebra”. Stripy-coloring and mild tasting. I admit I got the idea for it from watching a favorite old mystery series about a detective/chef who used them. (Pie in the Sky, with Richard Griffiths, if you are ever needing something light to watch.)
    What an summer of extremes! I am looking forward to some good New England leaf color soon.

    1. I know. Tomato sandwiches are one of life’s simple pleasures. Yes, give Juliet a try. I have planted other varieties, but the yield was nowhere near as good as it was with Juliet. Plus, they are so darned tasty.

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