Tomato Sandwich Delicacy Intrigues Oklahomans

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2011

“How do you make a tomato sandwich?”
My second-born, spending the summer employed in the food service industry in Norman, Okla., called home to Elizabeth a few weeks ago with that question.
None of his Oklahoma friends had ever heard of our summer delicacy, and they were intrigued.
Robert is both a Southerner and Easterner to his University of Oklahoma friends, something of a curiosity at times when he describes his North Carolina roots, barbecue, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cheerwine and Texas Pete.
Oklahomans don’t like anything named Texas, even if it’s made in Winston-Salem. As an OU man, Robert can’t wear orange so strict is the anti-Texas Longhorn fervor.
His call home was a painful reminder that I had failed the boy as a parent.  At age 20, he had to ask how to make a tomato sandwich. Finicky to a fault, he has never actually eaten tomato or barbecue sandwiches, the staples of our diet. He even refused banana pudding. As a result, he has failed as an ambassador to the unwashed Midwesterners eager to learn of our gustatory delights.
Elizabeth has often suggested that his taste buds are in his head. Gently, she walked him through the process: Grow a tomato in your backyard in the clay soils of Piedmont North Carolina, pick it off the vine, peel it, spread mayonnaise (Duke’s is the local favorite except among UNC alumni who demand Hellmann’s) on two slices of white bread, sprinkle salt and pepper all around, and presto.
There are two kinds of people in this world: Peelers and non-peelers. It was a tremendous relief when I discovered during our courtship that Elizabeth is a tomato peeler. That sealed the deal for me.
Robert has learned something about prairie heat this summer. Oklahoma weather has consistently been 10 degrees hotter than here. During most of the past month, high temperatures each day have climbed over 100 degrees.
He’s now talking about graduate school … in cold Michigan …