The sandwich, and its many variations

Friday, August 5, 2005

Some of you may be surprised to know that Elvis and I share some of the same food favorites.

Sort of.

The King was fond of peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. At least that's what my wife and I learned several years ago during a tour of Graceland.

I've never eaten a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, not even after I got the recipe from the Graceland kitchen staff.

But I've made similar concoctions of my own.

When I tell most people that my favorite sandwich is peanut butter (extra crunchy) and pickle relish, they make a face and special noises that tell me they find the concept disgusting.

And when I tell someone a sandwich of sliced dill pickles and peanut butter is another favorite, most people I know suddenly get interested in the wallpaper pattern across the room.

Or how about this:

Put peanut butter on a single sliced of bread and wrap it around a kosher dill pickle.

Now that tomatoes are plentiful, I've been looking for more ways to eat them. We have them (off our own vines this year) at just about every meal. I asked my wife after dinner one night this week if she was tired of tomatoes.

"Not yet. You?"

Nope.

The big yellow plate on the kitchen counter still has plenty of ripe tomatoes on it.

Which is why bacon is so popular at our house right now.

When there are no tomatoes, I'd estimate we don't cook more than one pound of bacon in a year. But when tomatoes are red and juicy, bacon is a regular menu item.

There are other ways to eat tomatoes in the summertime.

My wife makes a mean gazpacho.

A couple of years ago, I made a batch of salsa, since we also like Tex-Mex food. But more than two dozen jars of salsa go a long way.

When we lived in Kansas we went to Council Grove where there's a restaurant that has been in business since wagon trains traveled the Santa Fe Trail. Any eating establishment that's been in business that long gets its reputation the old-fashioned way: It earns it.

The food there is wonderful, relying heavily on seasonal produce. One of the best dishes I ever ate at the Hays House was tomato, onion and cheese casserole. What a treat.

When I was growing up on the Killough Valley farm in the Ozarks over yonder, we always had lots of tomato plants in the garden. We canned tomatoes and cooked tomatoes and ate sliced tomatoes right out of the garden.

Whenever I was dispatched to the garden for some onions or pole beans or cucumbers, I always managed to stop by the tomatoes and pull a ripe one from the vine and eat it on the spot. Wash it first? If it had dirt on it, I just rubbed it off on my jeans. Isn't that what jeans are for?

Speaking of sandwiches, there is nothing easier or tastier than a thick slice of Better Boy between two slices of white bread slathered with Miracle Whip.

OK, if you don't like white bread, just spread the Miracle Whip right on the tomatoes.

And enjoy.

Some people don't like tomatoes. That's OK with me. When the platter of sliced heaven comes around, I'll gladly take whatever gets passed over.

If I really get to heaven, I'm not expecting to find streets of gold. Asphalt is fine with me -- as long as there's plenty of vine-ripened home-grown tomatoes.

And duct tape, of course.

Hey, even angels need a little duct tape from time to time.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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