Mater Sammiches, aka Tomato Sandwiches

Published on July 01, 2015
Written by Ray Access

Pure, unadulterated tomato sandwiches, the old-timey way.

Two slices of white bread. Sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden. A little mayo, salt and pepper to taste.

That’s the makings of one of the finest sandwiches you’ll find anywhere in the country. And every homemaker in the Appalachians knows, there’s nothing better to serve family and friends on a hot July summer evening than one of these delicious, juicy, mouth-watering treats.

Big Boys, Cherokee Purples, Mt. Fresh, Primo Reds, Early Girls and Heirlooms of every ilk usually are ripe for the picking during July and August in the mountains. Before the canning gets started and the sauces get made, rinse a batch of big, round, juicy maters and make one of the South’s most trusted staples. Cut a thick slice and slip it between two slices of bland bread so the rich tomato taste takes center stage. Add a glass of sweet tea on the side, and you know you’re eating with the angels in heaven.

Sayin’ It Right, All Right

The origins of the mater sammich may get lost in the translation, but make no mistake, the vernacular of the South is clear. You won’t ever, ever find no “tomato sandwiches” in these here kitchens. No siree. It’s a mater sammich or go home hungry.

And if you expect to court a Southern gal or make an impression on your beau’s momma, you best be taking on the right kind of speech or get ready for an eye-roll to be sure — if not an outright snub. And iffin’ yer just passing through, pick up a few of the subtler forms of speech found in these here hills and treat your kin back home to a grin and a slap right along with the smooth taste of the sweetest mater sammich on God’s green earth.

New Fangled SandwichesTomato sandwich with a twist

As the chefs and foodies invade the Southern mountain towns for opportunities to practice their arts and out-of-town ways, however, the mater sammich has certainly undergone some changes. While most are good and even healthy by comparison, it’s tough to beat the simple tastes of our mountain forefathers and mothers.

But if you have a hankerin’, try a few variations most Southern Appalachian people find acceptable when no one’s looking. They even can be quite delicious, even if you can’t tell anyone about it. For example:

·         Add pimento cheese or a slice of cheddar.
·         Use whole wheat or artesian bread.
·         Mix Greek yogurt with a little garlic and herbs for a healthy spread in place of the mayo.
·         Bacon never hurt, but don’t go all BLT, which takes away from the tomatoes meant to be the stars of these sandwiches.
·         Toast the bread to keep the mess to a minimum.
·         A thick slice of onion is a popular addition.
·         Go 1950s old school and use Miracle Whip.
·         Or keep it real with Merita Old Fashioned White Bread and Duke’s Mayonnaise.

Yum! If that don’t make you hungry… well, gotta go.

Keep plenty of napkins on hand for this treat.

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