Like any fan of tomatoes, I get excited when the weather starts to warm up each year. I have a ritual involving freshly baked bread, an absurd amount of mayo and an even crazier amount of tomato slices that I indulge at least a few times each summer. Sometimes I'll let bacon and lettuce join the party, but for at least one summer sandwich I keep things pure. When that sandwich comes together and all the ingredients are perfect, it is one of the finest food moments I can experience.
The problem is in finding that perfection. The bread is easy enough — Dallas has a number of bakeries that turn out summer-sandwich-worthy loaves, and Duke's (the only reasonable excuse for not making your own mayo) is available at grocery stores everywhere. Finding awesome tomatoes, though, has been a full-blown bitch. A few summers ago it was so hot tomatoes decided to tap out until next year, and last year when the weather was finally cooler not enough rain fell to grow exemplary fruits.
This year, as cruel fate would have it, the spring was too wet. A few weeks back I walked through a farmers market asking about tomatoes and heard the same problem from several growers. The farmers had lots of tomatoes on their vines but they were still green. And the ones that had ripened were so filled with water they hardly had flavor. Texan tomato lovers really have it tough.
Yet here I am again, saying that this will be our finest tomato summer here in Dallas. I may be speaking mostly out of hope, but we've had a lot of sunshine lately and the temperature has yet to hit triple digits. I've also had three separate sources who are close to the farming community tell me they've encountered at least one exceptional crimson orb this year, and today at Jimmy's I nearly got one for myself. The East Dallas grocery known for its sausage making and wine has tomatoes from East Texas for sale, but by the time I got there they were mostly picked over.
Still, I have hope. And if you're a nut like me, you should have hope too. Perfect tomatoes are out there as we speak and it's only a matter of tracking a few down. When you do, grab a loaf of bread, a jar of mayo and make the most excessive sandwich you can handle. There's no better summer memory for a food lover.
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