Friday, March 11, 2016

The Southern 'Mater Sammich

Many years ago, back in the west where I grew up, a friend introduced my wife and I to the Southern Tomato Sandwich.  He was absolutely amazed that we had never had one.  (Colorado is not known for its tomato sandwiches.)  He worked feverishly to produce the two and watched us as we bit into them. I can only call his expression one of rapt anticipation.  

For the uninitiated, the South is known for all kinds of special food:  Southern Fried Chicken, Southern Barbecue, Fried Okra, Grits and yes, the Southern Tomato Sandwich (or 'Mater Sammich, one might say.) That day many years ago introduced me to this phenomenon, and to be honest, I enjoyed it; but when I recently took to the internet to find a picture for this blog entry, my heart fairly skipped a beat.   

It appears that there is no real consensus as to the makings of said Southern 'Mater Sammich.  I found inclusions of Italian spices, onions, and all manner of bread treatments just to name a few.  I suppose, to compare, it's like any good thing you find and enjoy, everyone has their own take.  

My take?  Bread, Mayo, Tomatoes, touch of salt.  A Southern Tomato Sammich.  If you add onions, then I'd expect you call it a Southern Tomato and Onion Sammich. If you like pickles  on yours, then I'd expect you'd call it a Southern Tomato and Pickles Sammich.  You want Italian Spices?  I will refrain from mentioning how I feel about that.  

My simple recipe for a 'Mater Sammich is as follows:
2 slices of bread (Regular white sandwich bread is preferred, but whole wheat is ok.)
2 slices of tomato (more may be needed to fill the sandwich, also ok.)
Touch of salt.

The best clue here is to use big beefsteak tomatoes.  2 slices, and slice them thick, about a quarter of an inch at least.  Then, cut the slices in half so that you have 4 half moon pieces.  Prepare the bread by spreading Mayonnaise edge to edge on both slices. (Again, my own enjoyment means that I use a WHIPPED, spreadable salad dressing rather than mayonnaise and it's a MIRACLE that I don't mention the name here.)
Incredible Life Like Simulation!

The true secret to the sammich is to lay the tomatoes so that the straight edges of the cut slices align with the outer edge of the bread.  All four rounded edges meet and overlap at the center.  (This means tomato in every bite!)  Sprinkle with just a touch of salt and put the top slice on.

My daughter will tell you that the finished sammich should be cut diagonally, corner to corner, but I prefer to cut it in half, side to side. (Cutting a Mater Sammich top to bottom is only for reprobates, heathens and surly dead-beat ne'er do wells.)

There you have it.  You can, of course add anything you want to your 'Mater Sammich; pickles, onions and  yes, even Italian spices.  It don't make no never mind to me, just don't ask me to eat one.

When it comes to my partaking of Southern 'Mater Sammiches, I am a purist.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dinner is Rain Delayed

A few years ago, we had quite a rainy spring here in Nashville. It led to some historic flooding and we are only now getting past it.  Overall, rain is merely an inconvenience to southerners...more so to those who drive in the rain.

I don't drive in the rain much. Only when I have to. Mainly because I take the bus to and from work. But you knew that, didn't you, Bubba?  The real reason I don't like to drive in the rain is not the rain, but the other drivers.  At times I think it's worse than driving on ice and snow. 

You see, here in Nashville, drivers who brave the rain fall into two categories. Impatient and overly cautious.  You can extrapolate this to be 'fast' and 'slow.'  Unfortunately, the latter keep the former from going fast, and the entire thing ends up being more of an exercise in futility than a drive in the rain.  

I have no idea why this is.  For some reason people who would drive at the posted speed limit (or more) on black ice will drive at 10 miles per hour in the rain. The fast guys think the rain is no big deal and speed around like they're planning on hydroplaning all the way home. Add to that the fact that most roads in this area are filled with engineered bottlenecks and you have the perfect situation for constant traffic jams.  (And accidents.  Many, many accidents.)  

Me? I'm safe and sound on the bus, reading my electronic reader, while the bus driver handles the crazy traffic.  Drivers on the bus are cool, collected and well trained.  Rain or snow, they have a 'we'll get there when we get there' sort of mentality that keeps them from driving their 58' behemoth over those small smart cars and their slightly larger cousins.  

Bringing this down to the end, it means that the rain gets me home late. Sometimes only 5 or 10 min, but sometimes as much as an hour or more.  My wife has no idea what time I will be home on rainy days.  

My wife plans dinners to such a degree that they are just about ready to be served when I walk in the door. Hot, juicy and tasty.  So, nights I'm late, means my dinner would be hard and dry and cold. So, when it rains these days, my wife plans simple means of salads, or quick cooking fish,

So, there you have it. Rain, Slow Southerners, Fast Southerners and Dinner Menus therein affected. Such is life in the South.