Comfort foods are a reoccurring theme in my columns. I can’t help it. It’s just a category of food that just calls my name, especially during stressful times. I want something that will stick to my ribs and fill me up. Salad? Not so much. Carrots and a sour cream dip? Nope, not for me. If you want to get my attention, let’s talk about fried chicken and pan gravy, beef stew served over cornbread, or pasta and a rich bolognaise with lots of parmesan. I do try to have a healthy diet, but when I get a craving, it’s never going to be soup and salad.
I also like to cook traditional southern foods; it’s what I grew up on. Collard greens, baked sweet potatoes (they have got to be Vardaman sweet potatoes to be really good), as well as peas and beans with a sweet, sour, and spicy chow-chow are all classics of mine. I simply love them.
Some comfort foods are seasonal or timely too. Gumbo is best in the fall and winter, fried chicken is best on Sunday at the family table, and hamburgers on a charcoal grill are a summertime thing. See what I mean?
So, where is this all going? I had a rough day a few days ago, and I really craved something as comforting as I could get. I’ve had my fill of Hartz fried chicken recently, so, what’s a poor hungry boy to do? It’s summertime already and what is the best food to be found in the South on a hot summer’s day?
Red ripe tomatoes, just picked off the vine and still warm from the sun. As all good Southerners know, there is only one thing to do with that tomato, and that is to make a tomato and mayo sandwich, right? I like to add a little salt and pepper, and if I really want to get fancy, I melt a few sliced of American cheese on top. I think I told you recently that my new favorite mayo is the Japanese variety, Kewpie, and I think a good summertime tomato sandwich needs to be swimming in mayo. But that’s just me. And, of course, this sandwich needs to be served with a glass of cold milk.
I can’t think of a better way to begin a Mississippi summer that to make the first tomato sandwich of the season. It’s delicious and it is a reminder of summertime lunches as a kid, made for me by my mom. What could be better?