Growing up Italian-American, I always associated raw tomatoes with a gush of olive oil, copious salt, and basil. Most of the time, to be perfectly honest, I still do.
I am also a voracious reader, and identified closely with Harriet from Harriet the Spy. Harriet the spy ate a tomato sandwich for lunch, daily, without fail. And she spied on her neighbors and wrote down her observations in a clandestine, top security notebook. I mean, I loved tomatoes and notebooks-it was a match made in heaven.
There was one issuer, however-Harriet took her tomato sandwich on white bread, with MAYONNAISE.
As I child, I hated mayo. And everyone (Italian) knew you didn’t serve a tomato sandwich on limp, white, non-crusty bread. Seriously.
Fast forwarding to adulthood, I made one of those discoveries so many of us make when taking responsibility, for the first time, for truly feeding ourselves. It wasn’t mayo I hated-it was the fat-free, taste free version my mother preferred.
Recalling Harriet, I tried again-
The unctuous mayo against the crisp, bright, garden-fresh tomato, with the flimsy white bread acting as a lackluster crouton, unable to contain the juiciness (or, in my house at the moment, the sandwich flat bread-gotta make up for the real mayo calories somehow!) It is a three-napkin meal of late summer deliciousness.