There is a debate about whether the bread should be toasted. Most Southerners, like Mary, would say no: That soft texture is central to the traditional tomato sandwich experience. But Jason Skrobar, food stylist and author of the upcoming “The Book of Sandwiches,” calls for grilled dough in a variation with sun-dried tomato mayonnaise, which he calls My Perfect Sandwich. My colleague J. Kenji López-Alt, a resident of Seattle, pantoasts only one side of each slice, which he turns inside out so the outsides are still tender, a key feature of the classic. (Note that neither Skrobar nor López-Alt are Southern.)

Alternatively, the shortest stint in a toaster means you can have the best of both worlds: The bread keeps its structure under juicy tomato while keeping its pillowy softness inside. To each his own. As long as you have to eat your drop sandwich over the sink, then you’re in the ballpark.

The hallmark of a good tomato sandwich, to me, is mayonnaise that oozes and clumps against the tomato. If you’re from the South, “you either grew up in the Duke household or in the Hellmann household,” Mary says. In my mind, the whole Duke-versus-Hellmann debate couldn’t be more boring or irrelevant (although I enjoy pissing people off every year). I’m using mild-flavored Hellmann’s in this particular case because I like to sprinkle some furikake on top of the mayo before sandwiching the tomatoes. The seaweed in the delicious rice seasoning increases the deliciousness of the tomato, intensifying the harmony of fruit, carbohydrates and condiment. A delicious Duke’s or even a Kewpie, delicious though they are, would overpower everything in my perfect tomato sandwich.

All year long, I dream of a sandwich like this – the first good tomato sandwich of the year.

Recently, Maria told me she found some great heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market, those delicious ugly ones in red, green and purple. She also restocked her favorite Merita bread, used Duke’s (of course) and filmed herself eating her favorite sandwich for her 400,000 fans. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” she told me, describing how lucky she feels to work for herself, to make ASMR videos that help people all over the world – like me – relax and fall asleep every night . Tonight, as I dream about my tomato sandwich, Mary builds her own, warning us calmly and calmly, “Don’t knock it before you’ve tried it.”

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