I love the tomato, but only when she's sexy. For eight weeks out of the year, she and I pick up where we left off from the previous September to continue our mad love affair that began more than 30 summers ago at the Jersey shore.
Besides fried chicken, the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich -- aka the BLT -- was a close second in my list of favorite foods as a child. I'm confident that those tomatoes from my Atlantic City boardwalk paradise are what whirled me into slurping ecstasy.
Even my mother, who couldn't cook much of anything, could pull together a memorable BLT, on toasted white, out of the store-bought plastic bag. It was a sensory thrill -- the dripping juice of the brilliant red hunks of my "love apple," the crunch of the iceberg lettuce mattress, the salty sticks of overcooked bacon, the smell of burning toast, the tune I'd hum in glee while wolfing down the whole package.
The BLT of my present is a bit more spiffed up, but remains as simple and gastronomically erotic as that of my youth.
It's mid-August, which means I have a hot date with a garden tomato almost every night until the first day of fall. You should, too. January will bite you in the ass before you know it.
3-4 slices of your favorite bacon (applewood-smoked is a personal favorite)
Bread: Venture beyond the world of sliced sandwich bread and try a soft flat loaf, like ciabatta or pan cubano that will absorb the tomato juices but not get soggy. A baguette is a good runner-up.
Coarse salt to taste
1 juicy, vine-smelling tomato, sliced
A small handful of salad greens (optional: mix with basil and/or arugula)
Optional extras: sharp cheese, slice of red onion, strong mustard, mayonnaise
• Cook bacon in a skillet on top of the stove or on a baking sheet in the oven, at 375 degrees, until desired crispness. Drain on paper towels.
• Slice bread in half, lengthwise. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt to taste on each half. On one half, assemble the fixin's in the following order: Tomatoes, bacon, greens. Top sandwich with second piece of bread.
• Makes enough for two to share, but who's watching?
Culinary questions? Reach CL's Kitchen Witch at email@example.com.
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