It took me awhile, but I got there.
Tomatoes are an interesting thing. There is no food that is perhaps more loved in certain forms: ketchup, tomato sauce, pizza,etc. And more reviled in others: salads, sandwiches, etc. Usually, it’s the same people too. They will put ketchup on their ketchup, but they HAAAAATE tomatoes. Meanwhile, some people (often gardener types) can eat them like a piece of fruit.
I was in the middle.
As a young kid I didn’t like tomatoes in any form, but eventually came around on pizza, ketchup, and tomato sauce in that order. But to this day, I am vehemently against the use of tomatoes in sandwiches and salads… sort of.
Nothing is more inexplicably popular and overused than tomatoes on sandwiches. It’s automatic for some reason “lettuce and tomato” is instant inclusion. Lettuce makes sense. It has great texture. It builds layers and volume. It has nice color. Tomatoes though? Most of the time, it’s just a horrible, horrible idea. It’s like “Hey! Know what would make this wonderful, crisp, delicous sandwich more interesting? A slimy cold thing stuck in the middle!” Plus tomatoes have a very distinct taste and texture that clashes with just about everything. Seriously, there are a handful of things in which an uncooked tomato can match and contrast flavor with. Otherwise, it can utterly dominate your taste buds. And thusly, I’ve been ordering so many kinds of sandwiches with no tomato my entire life. Salads too.
This isn’t some basic objection. I’ll fucking eat anything (and often do). But the key is that said ingredient has to be used “correctly” (which is subjective), but in other words, used to its best potential. It’s not a hodgepodge. Mustard and horseradish goes great with roastbeef. Pesto goes with chicken. Tuna and celery and cheddar cheese (a holy trinity). This is not rocket science. It’s basic food pretp.
So why the hell do we put non-agreeable tomatoes in everything? Why don’t we use them right? I’ll order a caprese sandwich or salad in a second. Why? Because it’s a perfect flavor combination.
It’s simple really, the tomato HAS to be the star of the sandwhich. It’s just too strong a taste to have it otherwise. Make the tomato the star and have things that compliment it. I’ll find a few restaurant shops that get this right here and there and it’s wonderful. There’s one place that won’t even put them on their club sandwhiches! A godsend I say.
So what if you don’t like tomotoes at all? (aside from obvious sauce and ketchup of course). Well, try to use them a bit better. Rule number 1. tomatoes have to be at least room temperature. The relative coldness of many served tomatoes throws people. They are often cool due to the need for preservation, but still. If that’s too much slice them up and take out the gooey part, so you’re left with the harder cavity. Chop. put in a pan and cook it in butter. You can put it right on pasta, fish, beef, or anything you want. It’s delicious. Just build up your tomato tolerance if you will.
Sandwiches however, are another issue.
Which brings us to the BLT. They are astoundingly popular, but don’t QUITE work with the tomato in post scenarios. Prosciutto and tomatoes are a common combination, but still. It’s just not right.
I’ve been trying to reconcile this problem for a long, long time.
Given: Bacon is the most delicious thing ever (there is no argument. Don’t even try).
Thus, why not a bacon sandwich? I did that for a long time. Bacon, lettuce, and avocado. But still it just felt like something was missing. I used other ingredients but nothing and I mean nothing worked right.
So I forced myself to try BLTs to see if I could come around. After a few false starts, I finally got it.
1) Ditch the avocado. I love avocado, but it’s just slightly distracting enough to actually disrupt the balance you’re trying to create. Mayo and only mayo just works better.
2) Medium amount of lettuce. Skimping takes out the crispness, but too much and sandwich stinks. (never overlettuce your sandwich).
3) this is the big one. The tomatoes MUST be dry. A soggy tomato will ruin the crispness of the bacon and wilt the lettuce. Even remove the gelatin if necessary.
4) Always use sourdough bitches. toasted is perfection. if not avail, a nice ciabatta will do. No rye. no wheat. no white.
My sandwhich guy even on the same page now through some kind of ESP mind meld. This is the one who looks like a latino josh beckett.