August 10th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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Scorpacciata is a term that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it's in season. It's a good way to eat. Here's how to pronounce it.

A tomato and mayonnaise sandwich on store-bought white bread is the finest sandwich known to mankind.

This is not up for debate, and the ingredients are not negotiable. Salt and pepper are permissible, but if you try to get schmancier than that, you'll screw it all up, and your sandwich should be taken away from you until you learn to properly appreciate the simple perfection of this combination.

You will not have the opportunity to eat one between, say, mid-September and the beginning of next August, so it's best that you consume them as frequently as humanly possible while tomatoes are in season. One a day would not be overkill and you and your physician should just devise a plan for counteracting any potential over-mayonnaising you may encounter during this period of your gastronomic life.

There may not be Duke's mayonnaise for sale where you live. That's a shame, and you should really try to get some, because it's markedly less sugary than other commercial mayonnaise brands and allows the tomato slices to sing their luscious, sweet and tangy tune.

Hellmann's will also get the job done, but if anyone begins to bring up the possibility of making the mayonnaise for this sandwich at home ("It's sooooo eeeeaaasssyyy. Just use your bllleeeenderrrr..."), banish them to the porch until they have contemplated the error of their ways. Yes, even if it is raining. Simplicity is serious business here.

Same goes for the white bread. You must not make this bread, nor should the word "artisanal" be uttered within 100 paces of it. You must purchase this bread and the word "crappy" must be at least somewhat applicable to it. Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina makes his with store-bought bread (a move New Orleans chef Adolfo Garcia reportedly referred to as "ballsy") and the man's won or been nominated for every big cooking award under the sun. Trust him, for he is a professional maker of tomato mayo sandwiches.

Upon this soft, crappy bread, slather the mayonnaise. How thickly and on one or both slices - that's your business. On top of one slice, layer tomatoes.

Now, these tomatoes. You did not under any circumstances pick these up at the supermarket, unless you know for really and for truly that they've worked out some sort of deal with a local farmer. This isn't about being a snob; it's about making sure your food tastes of something other than vaguely sour red-colored packing material and was picked under humane conditions.

The tomatoes should come from a farm, a farmstand, a neighbor or if you're extremely lucky, your own garden. If the angels are smiling upon you from the heavens and you saved a basket of kittens from certain death on a railroad track in a past life, these tomato will be of an heirloom variety. They should be red (yes the yellows, oranges and purples are stunning to behold, but we're on a particular mission here) and taste of blue skies and blazing sun. At the very least, they should have been grown in soil rather than a hydroponic compound, but sometimes, we must make do. If they have seen the inside of a fridge, though, skip them. These are not the tomatoes you're looking for.

Cut the slices to whatever depth brings you the greatest pleasure. For some, this will be akin to the thickness of a thumb. Others may wish to skim this month's copy of Nightshade Enthusiast through theirs. Either way, you're in it for the juice - or rather the locular jelly, which is that luscious goop in the center that holds all the acid. There should be enough of that to stain the mayonnaise a light pink and make your knees buckle just a little bit.

When you're finished layering the slices. Stack on the top slice and...wait. It'll taste good right now, but it'll be even better in ten or fifteen minutes when the juice has had a chance to seep in and meld with the mayonnaise and juuuuust begin to sog up that first millimeter or two of bread. You've held out all year for tomatoes to be in season - what's a few minutes more?

And when you do finally grasp that sandwich with both hands, lift it to your mouth and take that first big, sloppy bite of summer, all the world will melt away for a minute. Then you'll start dreaming of your next one.

Previously - Heirloom tomatoes, explained and You really should be putting tomatoes in your drinks



soundoff (438 Responses)
  1. Jude

    Best sandwich in the world? Probably not. But Duke's mayo is definitely the best mayo.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  2. Truth

    Grilled Cheese and Bacon, preferably served at the Bonnie Brae Tavern in Denver. Hands down, without exception, the best thing ever done with bread.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  3. LICgal

    Tomato and butter sandwiches are better than mayo!

    August 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  4. Ronniegirl

    I have been eating this sandwich all my life. Had one for lunch. Over the sink, or soggy after taking it to school or work. MMMM, melts in your mouth. Heirloom is best.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  5. GutBuster

    BLT or cucumber and dill cream cheese on brown bread toast

    August 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  6. KW

    My mouth is watering. You nailed it. And, if they don't sell Duke's where you live... you should start packing immediately.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Cathy

    Sourdough.. mayo, summer tomatoes, fresh black pepper, sharpest cheddar cheese. Lightly buttered on the outside and pan fried. Heaven.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  8. BUMBLE BEE

    TUNA SALAD!

    August 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  9. Robin

    There is NO way that the white bread pictured in the photos would fit under the category of "crappy" store-bought white bread. FIrst of all, it's not white enough. And it appears to hold up, even slightly, to the mayo and tomatoes....no crappy store bought white bread would do that. The sandwich looks good, but truth in advertising, please!!

    August 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sara

      It looks kind of like the Pepperidge Farm bread, the loaves that stand on their ends instead of laying down. It's not the cheapest, but it's mass-produced, wrapped in plastic, and lives in the bread aisle instead of the bakery.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Al Sharpton@Robin

      You are being a racist and I won't put up with it. Unite my Brutha's....

      August 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  10. Leafonthewind

    There is no such thing as "the best sandwich in the universe" as a universally accepted fact. Everyone is different. Personally, I don't like the taste or texture of tomatos, and they give me heartburn. My favorite is buttered and grilled sourdough bread with extra sharp cheddar cheese.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  11. Jeann

    Watching Americans fight over sandwiches if pretty endearing to watch. You all have such undeveloped tastes. Much like children who never move past chicken nuggets.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Leafonthewind

      Snob.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Snookii

      HMMM chicken nuggets! I think all parents should be required to watch Jamie Oliver's YOUTUBE video of how chicken nuggets are made! Disgusting!

      August 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  12. Bruce

    Mayo and Peanut Butter is better.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • bdgfn

      Yes! Another true believer! And Crunchy rather than Smooth if at all possible. The Peanut Butter, not the Mayo...

      August 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
      • Tammo

        HAHAHAHAHHA why not chunky mayo? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        August 11, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  13. Dustin

    Nothing beats a well made Cuban sandwich... and certainly not tomatoes and mayonnaise. I'd also put an artichoke melt near the top. Artichokes at a base level are simply superior to tomatoes

    August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  14. jimjimbobim

    Braunschweiger, Onion and Swiss cheese with mayonaise. My Dad and I used to make these after doing yard work when I was a kid. Everything sliced thick. They were so good.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  15. bdgfn

    There is no one "best sandwich in the universe". Every person is different. And for me, the best sandwich is not one sandwich, but several, and they change from time to time. My personal favorites are, in no particular order, a Rueben, a BLT, a gourmet hamburger (not fast-food), Peanut Butter and Mayo, Peanut Butter and Cheese, and Cheese (preferably Velveeta cut nice and thick), butter and mustard.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Anon_e_mouse

    My wife loves them... tomatoes fresh from the local farmers (here in New Jersey we have an abundant supply). And yes, being as we lived in North Carolina for many years, we haul back a case or two of Duke's mayo... it's absolutely the best. But while she likes her sandwiches with tomato, salt, pepper, and mayo on white, I prefer mine with just tomato, mayo, and Bibb lettuce.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  17. SPRINGSGRANNY

    My very favorite sandwich is a sliced (real) turkey on toasted cheese bread with lots of Hellmans mayo, Used to be able to get this in NY at Schraffts. Don't think they are in business anymore. I make it at home after Thanksgiving...mmm just thinking about it I want to roast a turkey!!!!

    August 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  18. Sara

    Kat, I totally agree, especially with the insistence on Duke's. (From a longtime Duke's fan, Kraft is also acceptable.) Posts like this remind me that you're from Chapel Hill. I actually work within walking distance of Crook's Corner, so I'll check their menu.

    The grocery stores always disappoint me on their tomatoes, I've learned by now. The last few I've bought – good ones, heirlooms that pass the sniff test – have been bland and a bit mealy. The Campari tomatoes in the plastic containers make good sandwiches, though. The Kumatos are too sweet, but the Camparis are great.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Sara

      Banana and mayo sandwiches are also good, for what it's worth. The sweetness of the banana and tanginess of the mayo work nicely. You can slice the banana for a normal sandwich, or leave it whole and put it in a hot dog bun.

      August 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  19. Lifelong Vegetarian

    I'd rather do tomato, Miracle Whip, and American cheese sandwich on a light wheat bread. The cheese adds just that little umph without being overwhelming, but pretty much any other cheese would be too strong and overwhelm the tomato flavor.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  20. stuck@work

    I have been eating mayo and tomato sandwiches since i was a pre teen. I LOVE IT. Especially during the hot summer months, i don't want to eat heavy, this sandwich is just perfect! it taste delicious and its not too heavy...its just perfect. And it hits the spot every single time :)

    August 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  21. Jorge

    "A tomato and mayonnaise sandwich on store-bought white bread is the finest sandwich known to mankind."-Oh dear...looks like someone missed all her Home-Ec. classes.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  22. Robin

    This is one of my FAVE sandwiches ever. I was raised eating homegrown tomatoes with MIRACLE WHIP ( yes, I said it), and white bread. Nowadays I usually eat a multigrain bread, but this sandwich just wouldn't be the same. Skip the pepper and be sure to salt both sides of the tomato. Perfect. Might have one tonight (if I can find the white bread...).

    August 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  23. Curtis

    I cannot believe anyone would try to claim this is the best sandwich ever.

    The true best sandwich ever is the Muffaletta from Crave in Akron, OH.
    "Muffaletta of Salami, Pastrami, & Cappicolla w/ Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade, Italian Aioli, & Smoked Mozzarella"
    There is NO competition.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  24. Worldwalker

    Bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Thick bacon, fried crisp (not that thin wimpy stuff). Fresh Roma tomatoes from the garden. Leaf lettuce, no big midribs. Toasted bread, preferably sourdough, fine-grained enough to contain any leaking juices. Mayo. A bit of mustard is optional.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  25. Mildred

    I love egg salad sandwiches and watercress cucumber tea sandwiches. I'm not a huge fan on just a layer of mayo on a sandwich.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  26. Katie

    Swap the mayo for Miracle Whip, & YES :) Otherwise, heck no! White bread, sliced tomatoes, miracle whip, & salt, yummm, my fave sandwich from my childhood ;)

    August 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  27. Me

    YES!!! Wher eyou ge the tomatoes from is KEY.. not that GIANT or SAFEWAY acidous and bland type!! I have some yellow and some purple tomatoes from a community garden waiting at home!! WOOOHOOOO

    August 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  28. Afrojack

    In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style, No Lettuce, Extra Pickles.

    Or for those that believe a burger is not a sandwich, I present: Nutella and Banana on toasted whole grain wheat

    August 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Worldwalker

      Philistine. No pickles.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  29. alliemack

    Amen to the tomato mayo and white bread. Best in the world. Followed closely by tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil on crusty white bread. I do remember picnics with the tomato sandwiches as well as vienna sausages on biscuits - sounds gross now, but loved them as a kid...

    August 10, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  30. Daleonthe run

    My choice – peanut butter, jelly and bologna on toast

    August 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  31. Phineas

    Well Ferb, I know what we're going to do today!
    We're going to build the best sandwich ever!

    Hey, where's Perry?

    August 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Quincey9

      Hey, aren't you a little young to be building a sandwich that good?

      August 10, 2011 at 11:38 am |
      • Phineas

        Why yes, yes I am.

        August 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
      • Isabella

        Hey Phineas, Watcha doin?
        That is great, so I can get my "sandwich making" patch today.

        August 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  32. Quincey9

    Slice open a nice piece of flat ciabatta and brush the inside of both halves with EVOO (don't tear any bread out to save on carbs. If you're looking for a diet sandwich then go have several slices of spring water on imaginary bread) followed by a few well torn (not sliced or chopped) large basil leaves. Add one layer of thinly sliced marinated mozerella to one side (two if desired). Layer Prosciutto de Parma (don't be chincey on this or you ruin everything) that's so thinly sliced that you could read a newspaper through it. Add a couple of slices (again, the same thickness) of Coppa.
    Quickly toss a combination of spring mix lettuce and arugula with a teaspoon or so (to taste) of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. Make sure it's not soaked... just accented with it. Make a crushed (almost to a paste) combination of curshd marinated medium cherry peppers, marinated Serrano peppers and garlic and spread on inside of top bread. Place in Panini grille on medium high and hold down firmly, but not crushing it for about 2 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes on a towel before slicing at an angle and serve with lemon water (refreshing, but won't confuse the palate) Experiment with the amount of ingredients, but you'll love this.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • YEE GODS

      You could cook an entire turkey dinner in the time (and for about the same price) making this sandwich!

      August 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • joe d.

      nice quincey, pretty close to what we have been eating for the last 3 days, when some says sandwiches we cook these

      August 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  33. Cleanup on aisle 3

    Congratulations, this is the first time in my 31 years that I have read something that makes me want to puke. Tomotoes and Mayo are two foods that absolutely disgust me and you suggest putting them together and eating them. I'm literally nauseous at the thought of the tomato squishing and oozing the goop and seeds.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  34. JBJingles@Kat

    OK, now you are really tesing me by showing me the Eatocracy cutting board I've been wanting for so very long... They really do need to put these for sale, else I need to come to NYC to pick it up personally?? :)

    August 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  35. LP

    Loved these as a kid (and may need to build one again soon!). No "crappy" bread, please! Sturdy white bread made by our old german friend Fred. Mayo medium thick. Tomato 1/4" thick, still warm from the garden. A sprinkling of Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt.
    Other great sandwiches: BLT with avocado and swiss; the muffaletta; roast beef and swiss with mayo and hot peppers; the eggplant parm sub.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  36. hawkechik

    Almost right. The absolute *best* is when it's heirloom tomatoes on homemade sourdough bread!

    August 10, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  37. dewy

    Field cuccumber and mayo on toasted whole wheat bread, that is the summer sandwich

    August 10, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  38. JerseyGirl

    I live in the Garden State – you can't beat a tomato sandwich, especially when the tomato has just been picked and is still warm from the sun. If you want to visit heaven on earth, have an ear of Jersey corn on the side.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Vito@JerseyGirl

      Oh Yea, I Love all the PCB's,chemicals and Jimmy Hoffa Horseheads intermingled with the fresh water used to produce these tomato's–an offer we Can refuse.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:19 am |
      • hawkechik

        You didn't pay any attention, did you? I think most of the people here are *not* speaking of grocery store tomatoes which are insipid things at best even when in season, but rather the homegrown garden variety. My own tomatoes have not had any chemical fertilizers nor pesticides used on them and we are covered up in the things. Going to try to make some spaghetti sauce today – with homegrown basil, oregano and thyme of course.

        August 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
      • JerseyGirl

        You must live in North Jersey...your attitude is showing. I think it comes from the chemicals up there. Visit the southern part of the state...where we actually have grass.

        August 10, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Alexander Walker

      JerseyGirl: And make that a Rutgers tomato. (RU – Rah, Rah!)

      August 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Ann

      Mmm, Jersey tomatoes – I grew up in Bergen County and my uncle had a huge garden with corn, tomatoes, everything you could imagine. I do grow my own tomatoes now, but you can't beat the NJ climate. Yes, even in North Jersey.

      August 12, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  39. BlackSouthernBoy

    For all you yanks who bemoan the simplicity of white bread, good mayo and juicy tomatoes, stay your happy a$$ north of here, will ya? Yes, I'm a foodie. I love my fancy grilled 7-cheese, rosemary chicken, et al, etc like any other world-traveler, but I've gotta tell ya, the simplistic beauty of this sandwich is impossible to beat. Take this how you want it, but if you add anything to this sandwich, you really don't know what good food is.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Laur

      Seriously uneducated. Anyone who calls processed, high-fructose containing white bread + store bought, chemical containing mayo has no clue what good food is.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • lindsey318

      I registered just to say ... Well said!

      August 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
      • lindsey318

        Well said to the guy who wrote about the yummy sandwich... Not the Mr. Fancy Pants anti white bread ...

        August 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
      • Que?

        @lindsey318, registered at what? are you talking the car registry, congrats for not driving without your registration or a wedding registry, whens the big day? I am confused

        August 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  40. DJ

    Eat it while bending over the kitchen sink

    August 10, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  41. Scott

    If you don't agree with this article, you aren't using a good tomato. Find a farmer's market. Do it now...

    August 10, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  42. xmik50

    My grandparents grew a garden that was 1/4 acre in size. During the summer we ate tomato and mayo sandwiches every day as soon as the tomatoes ripened. I still miss them to this day. A store bought tomato just can't compare to garden grown.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  43. humtake

    Really? So eating red snot is considered good? Sorry, tomatoes are for people who never grew out of the stage of eating their own boogers but know it is not socially permissible, so they eat tomatoes instead to get the same flavor and consistency.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  44. NVsucks

    BLT is the perfect sandwich (with a cold glass of milk).

    August 10, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  45. Whorhay

    Tomato and Mayo on tasteless bread... are you kidding me?

    I'll take a whole Muffaleta or a hearty Rueben anyday over pretty much any other sandwich.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  46. pbach1

    no bacon? where's the bacon?!

    August 10, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  47. Leo_J

    BLT ! ! !

    August 10, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  48. Carolina Mom

    Deepsouth is right! This sandwich almost made the best ever. Just add a leaf of lettuce and crisply cooked bacon to elevate to the best in the world. It should be eaten as often as possible while tomatoes are in season.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  49. citizenUSA

    I really like a tomato sandwich. I've eaten them since I was a young boy. If you can do ALL the things described in the article to make the sandwich I'd bet it's really good. For me though, the best sandwich in the world is a Monte Cristo.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Whorhay

      Hmmmmm I had not even contemplated a Monte Cristo in what seems like years. I don't know where I could get one in my area though.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
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