Why the Tomato and Mayo Sandwich Is the Perfect Summer Sandwich

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Have you had a tomato and mayo sandwich yet this summer? If not, now is the perfect time to enjoy the season’s ultimate sandwich.

Why the Tomato and Mayo Sandwich Is the Perfect Summer Sandwich
Aimee Tucker

What makes it the best?

First, its simplicity. The ingredients number just three: white bread, mayonnaise, and fresh tomato. Salt and pepper optional.

Second, its big summer flavor. There’s nothing like the taste of a ripe tomato that’s been grown in the soil and warmed by the sun and never seen the inside of a refrigerator. What could be better?

It took me a few decades before I learned how good the tomato and mayo sandwich is, and I have the Yankee Facebook audience to thank for showing me the way. When another sandwich-centric post (“6 Classic New England Sandwiches”) went out on social media last year, we asked our fans to name their favorite New England sandwich — and dozens named the fresh summer tomato and mayo sandwich as their top pick.

Here’s some of what they said:

  • “Garden tomatoes with mayo and salt and pepper on fresh Syrian bread.”
  • “In the summer: iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, salt and pepper, on white bread with mayonnaise.”
  • “Nothing says summer in New England like vine-ripened tomatoes with mayo on white.”
  • “My mom made us tomato or tomato-lettuce sandwiches whenever tomatoes were in season.”
  • “Oh my. A good-thick-sliced-tomato-from-your-garden sandwich. That really is all-American.”
  • Some folks also expressed a preference for fresh summer tomatoes in a grilled cheese or paired with fried bologna or sliced cucumbers, but there were enough classic-tomato-and-mayo-sandwich fans to convince me that I was missing out on something great.

Which brings me to this fine August day. Armed with a loaf of white sandwich bread (the bread, I’ve been told, must be store-bought), a jar of mayonnaise (Cains, if your New England loyalty extends to condiments), salt and pepper shakers, and one large, fresh tomato from my local farmstand, I was ready to make amends.

Every good tomato and mayo sandwich starts with soft white bread and a thick layer of mayo.

Although I cut my tomato into slices as thick as my pinkie, you can go for thumb-thick or wafer-thin. The important thing is to find your perfect tomato-to-mayo ratio, and then, once the sandwich is assembled, walk away for 5 minutes to give those fresh tomato juices time to mingle with the mayo and seep into the bread a little. You’ll be glad you did.


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