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. Aimee

    I love fried green tomato sandwiches!!!! YUM

    August 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Tom

    The photos don't go with the article. Look at the bread. It clearly has traces of flour on the crust, and you can plainly see a variable texture in it. Somebody baked that bread. So if you're gonna be uppity about not being uppity, specify: if it wasn't 85ยข a loaf at the dollar store, and if its color is anything less than paper-white, it ain't appropriate for this sandwich. Harumph.

    August 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Nope - no scandal afoot. Bought it at my corner deli. Arnold's Country White:

      August 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  3. laurab68

    Yes it's good, but I like a tomato sandwhich in a fresh chibata bun. The outside has an amazing tough but chewy texture and the inside is soft. The bread is very flavourful and when toasted brings out the flavour even more.
    I'm sorry I like just plain tomatoes, but when combined with crunchy (but not burnt) maple cured canadian bacon and that chibata bun with Hellman's mayo, it totally rocks!

    August 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  4. Vip

    No, the best "sandwich" of all time is a grilled cheese with your favorite lunch meat, bacon, and a tomato slice on it!!! *Yum**

    August 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  5. @SantaFeChar

    Medium rare burger with a fire roasted green NuMex chile, sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Lettuce and a nice red, red beefsteak tomato slice acceptable additions but not mandatory.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  6. Hawke

    A tomato sandwich? No way. Well maybe–but definitely I'd use Miracle Whip and cherry tomatows and not mayo and heirloom tomatoes and I'd only want a half a sandwich once a year. I'll take a barbecue beef (chipped) with Fritos and iced tea any day.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  7. Betsy

    ever since I was 4 years old, I ordered the following: lettuce & mayo on wheat bread. Cut on the diagonal. It's great! A little tang (mayo), some green-age and crunch factor (crisp lettuce), and soft doughy bread. Yum! Drink skim milk on the side.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  8. Taco Loco

    Ever since Obama has been elected all I have been able to afford is a bologna on hand sandwich. Thanks for spreading the mayo Obummer.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  9. Rolly

    Seriously you jest! The best sandwich in the world is a Reuben assembled like this: Two slices of rye bread, Russian or 1000 island dressing, at least half a pound of pastrami, corned beef or a combination thereof, coleslaw, Swiss cheese and more dressing and then the whole thing is grilled and served with a couple of good Kosher dill pickles, now that's a sandwich!!..........where's the nearest deli?

    August 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  10. Jamesy

    Needs bacon.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  11. keef

    mayo is a plague on society

    August 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  12. beewatching

    Good sliced turkey with guacamole, arugula and homegrown tomatoes on a hearty whole grain bread.Cheese optional.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  13. emma

    Okay this combination sounds really soggy. Instead toast the bread, use only a thin scraping of mayo and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and lots of cracked back peppercorn. The best, especially on fresh sliced French bread.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  14. Guilty Bystander

    I don't eat mayo...I use ranch dressing instead.

    Not too fond of tomato either. I eat tomatos but it has be in something...I don't want a whole wad of tomato.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  15. Ronco

    @Tazer, few pertinant questions....Do you drive a BLAZER? Are you related to Debbie MAZER? Do you like to play tag ala LAZER?

    Thats all I got.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  16. Bob-O

    That crappy white bread isn't good for anything but feeding birds and ducks. I do love tomato sandwiches on a good, fresh and crusty baguette with a nice slice of provolone cheese. I also love tomatoes on most other sandwiches, especially grilled cheese and of course a good BLT.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Ronco

    Only One, I am sure is sacriligious where you live, but can I get the coleslaw on the side? Sounds really good, love NC 'Que, red slaw or white?

    August 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  18. mkantor

    The makings of the sandwich sound great but I don't usually like applying the word "crappy" to parts of my sandwich, particularly while I'm chewing it down.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  19. keef

    and the best sandwich is the Fat Darrel in New Jersey. It's already been decided long ago. (i'm not kidding)

    August 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Ronco

      Isn't that on a food Truck? didn't I see it on Man vs. Food?

      August 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • keef


        August 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  20. keef

    Mayonaise is the most vile thing ever conceived by man. I would rather have Anthrax sprinkled on my food.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  21. Only one

    and it's pulled pork and cole slaw with vinegar BBQ sauce North Carolina style! Best sandwich in 12 universes (if that makes any sense at all – 12 universes?)

    August 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  22. I Don't Normally Do This, But...

    This is all well and good, and I agree completely that tomato/mayo/cheap white bread is a summer classic, and just as described – fantastic! BUT WAIT...running neck and neck, the 'other' summer classic: fried sweet peppers with American cheese on cheap white bread! I do believe it to be the most delicious simple sandwich ever. We had at least 2 acres of garden every year, no lack of tomatoes, and we sure loved the tom/mayo/whitebread – but we BEGGED for peppers&cheese sandwiches! When we knew they were within reach we'd fight over them! Flavor that exploded in your mouth! Molto, molto buono!

    August 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  23. Programmr

    Toast the bread and add bacon, so it's a BLT without the L.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  24. David

    The Tomato should be a Cherokee Purple (a heirloom member of the beefsteak family, and yes it is purple and red) from your back yard.
    Hellman's mayo (Dukes is good as well), a little salt & pepper (course ground).
    And of course, a glass of iced tea.

    What more could one want?

    August 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • David

      A fried shrimp poor boy is also good.... ;-)

      August 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  25. jennygirl

    let me get this straight: crappy white bread, NO artisan bread, NO homemade mayo, has to be duke's or hellman's if duke's is not available, but the tomatoes have to be farm fresh, can't be store bought? this simple sandwich is too complicated.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  26. Mark

    Guess you never had a true Philly Cheese Steak. Beats any sandwitch any where anytime

    August 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  27. Emme

    Is anyone surprised that Virginians eat this? I'm sure this was on the cover of Trailer Park Magazine.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • The Witty One@Emme

      So you read Trailer Park Magazine, huh? You read it for the pictures, don't you?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  28. Don

    Put a slab of cheese on it, and you have something. But my favorite is grilled cheese, with mayo, mushrooms and onions on wheat. But you have to SLOWLY cook the onions ahead of time; carmelize them, not brown them. Cook the mushrooms ahead as well. GREAT sandwich!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  29. patty

    Tomato sandwiches are the best! I ate these all summer long growing up in E. Texas. I sometimes like a slice of garden fresh sweet onion with my tomato, mayo and white bread. Yum!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  30. tommy

    penut butter with bugers! lol!

    August 11, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  31. Barb in CT

    NO WAY. The best sandwich of all time is Genoa salami and sliced smoked Gouda on Martin's Wheat/Potato bread with French's horseradish mustard.

    Of course that IS subject to change, but right now there is just simply nothing better!

    August 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  32. Jess

    it's almost right...sourdough bread, avocado spread, tomatoes and a bit of sea salt on top...

    August 11, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  33. Things not to say in bed

    12. On second thought, let's turn off the lights.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  34. Chef Boy-Ar -De

    Fried Bologna on Store bread with potato chips on top of bologna instead of cheese. Easy and best.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Jazzderry

      before i had to watch what i ate-i loved a potato chip sandwich on an onion roll with mayo-skip the bologna,

      August 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • laurab68

      Bologna? Yuck. I was force fed that growing up for years. If I never eat another slice of that "meat" again in my life, I will be a lucky girl. I won't even ever feed that to my kids either. Oh crap....flashbacks!

      August 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  35. rhobere

    don't like tomatoes enough for that. however, a good bruchetta on french bread covered in mozerella and broiled in the oven for a minute or two (just enough to put a little char on the cheese and crisp up the bread a bit) is a good spin that will appeal to more people. one of my favorite no-cook sandwiches is white bread with nutella and apricot preserves and I tend to only crave it in the summer.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • rhobere

      I should mention that the bruchetta sandwich was one that was introduced to me at a restaurant in Amsterdam, The Netherlands while attending the world cup soccer team's homecoming celebration. its very simple, but goes great with a good lager (among other things available to enjoy in that part of the world :).

      August 11, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  36. Frenchy

    I know a great little restaurant at the edge of the galaxy.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  37. RebeccaJ

    MAYONNAISE?!! Heathen! It's Miracle Whip all the way when it comes to a gooood ta'mater sandwich:)

    August 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • gotta be duke's

      you're not from the south, are you? because here, miracle whip is a travesty. but to each his or her own ....

      August 16, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  38. Sean


    August 11, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Monica Lewinski


      August 11, 2011 at 10:51 am |
      • Slick Willy


        August 11, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  39. JJB Cny

    Just seeing the headline for this sandwich made me throw up in the back of my throat a little... Tomatoes? Not unless they're thoroughly cooked and made into a sauce with nothing recognizable as a tomato in there. Mayo? Dear, sweet Mabel, not a chance... Top it all off on flaccid, tasteless white bread? Sheer insanity. Wonderbread is for soup kitchens and trailer parks, absolutely disgusting.

    Give me a couple of slices of wheat bread, some chunky (or even better: fresh ground) peanut butter and so much honey it makes one slice drip like good baklava, and I'm a happy man. (Sub in Smuckers seedless raspberry jam for the honey, and I'm in heaven, just on a different cloud. Yeah, I'm 36 and I still eat PBJ several times a week...because I love it.)

    August 11, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Jorge

      You remind my of my youngest, her mama nearly went bald pulling her hair trying to make her eat her veggies.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
      • JJB Cny

        Ha! Sounds like me as a kid, I can't deny it. Heck, I'm still like that. My kids, however, love vegetables that I won't touch, and my son especially loves tomatoes right out of the garden.

        In keeping with the context of the story, it certainly raised my hackles calling this monstrosity the "best sandwich in the universe." I'd like to call the author all kinds of names, but I'd rather be civilized and insult the horrible food than the person that enjoys it (for whatever ungodly reason that may be.) All the best!

        August 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  40. Joesmama

    Tomato on white bread with mayo. YUM. Also, avocado on white bread with mayo. YUM. Both of these with a sprinkle of salt and pepper; they are summer on a sandwich.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  41. Rob O.

    This sammich pales in comparison to the 2Dolphins Tuna Wrap, also made with real (Often Duke's) mayo:

    August 11, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  42. S.B. Stein E.B.

    There are better sandwiches out there. Give me bagel, rye or pumpernickel and a wide variety of things to put on it, then you have a great sandwich. I need a construction permit to make one those as I joke with friends. Since I observe the rules of Kashrut, there is no meat on there; only cheeses, veggies and fishes.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • laurab68

      Yes but remember something important about bagels. You have to get them in a highly jewish neighbourhood, otherwise they are like keiser buns with a hole in the middle. Either Montreal, Quebec, Canada or New York City. They should always be baked in a wood oven to get that flavour and properly seeded for maximum flavour.

      August 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  43. julibear

    Interesting. I was just reading the Tom Robbins essay on tomato-mayonnaise sandwiches. He was similarly enthusiastic, and even more poetic, about their deliciousness.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Things not to say in bed.

      25. Did I remember to take my pill?

      August 11, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  44. dragonwife1

    And of course this sandwich should be eaten leaning over the sink, because to do it proper justice the tomatoes must be juicy to the point of dripping. Too bad it's been such a rotten year for tomatoes in my garden, since the weather's been so abominable. But at least I've gotten enough for a few sandwiches and a batch of salsa!

    August 11, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  45. Jorge

    Best sandwiches I ever had:

    Jumbo shrimp & a little Hellman's mayo, dash of fresh lime, on garlic-cilantro toasted creole bread.-La Romana, Dominican Republic.

    Pit-roast pork with sea salt, dash of horseradish sauce, a sliver of crackling skin, thick tomato slab, sweet onion and finely chopped crisp raw mustard greens, on Cuban bread. My house, Georgia.

    Hot-plate cube steak & onions, sauteed mushrooms, Manchego cheese, on crusty Italian bread.-San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  46. Bobbie

    The Heirloom Tomato talk is all bull. A good, soil-grown fresh tomato is a good, soil-grown fresh tomato. The Heirloom thing is a fad. Every neophyte gardener has jumped on the train to gardening snootyville and so has the author. While being down to earth and folksy about how basic and simple it is, he just HAD to throw in something to make readers feel inadequate about, if they don't have access. Now hear this, a Big Boy or Marion or Walter, etc. is just as good as a Rutger, or Mortgage Buster or whatever. The former are hybrids and the later are non-hybrids where you can save the seed and propagate the same plant. That is all. Plus, the non-hybrids are less disease resistant, that is the main reason plants were cross-bred to begin with, to make a more hearty plant. Just get a fresh, non-refrigerated, homegrown tomato, and it will be delicious. Those on the huge self-pick farms (like those in Homestead, FL) just aren't as good for some reason. Maybe the soil is over planted or the nutrients aren't the same. Buy a big old cheap resin or terracotta pot, and grow one on your balcony. Miracle grow or peters plant food is fine and they do like pulverized lime in the soil, but that's about as technical as it gets.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Matt

      "snootyville" The best!

      August 11, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  47. Wendy

    Hate tomatoes, hate mayo, so... NO. I'm partial to a really good grilled cheese.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  48. Greg

    BLT all the way!!! Or just take every kind of meat and put it on a few slices of bread with every condiment imagineable!

    August 11, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  49. TJ

    Swap sour cream for the mayo and then you have the best.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • John Holmes

      Swap sour cream on my knob and you have a butt buster grenade!

      August 11, 2011 at 9:00 am |
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