April showers bring May flowers and May flowers begin transforming into tomatoes by mid-June, ushering in the greatest season of all in the southern hills of Appalachia: ‘Mater Sandwich Season!
For those of you who use words like “tobacco” and “potato” instead of ‘backer and ‘tater, a ‘mater is what country folks call tomatoes and though there has been contentious debate as to whether they are vegetables or fruits, one thing that most everyone who grew up south of the Mason-Dixon Line can agree upon is that they’re a great delicacy when served on a sandwich.
Though any store bought ‘mater can be slapped onto a slice of bread, everyone knows that there is simply no comparison between a hybrid grocery store tomato and the juicy taste of a garden ripened ‘mater that has aged in the warm summer sun to the point of perfection… Just thinking about this has our mouths salivating for the iconic taste of summer!
Growing up in Southwest Virginia, the ‘mater sandwich was a staple of my summer diet: Whether I was tagging along in a busy hayfield with the men folk or playing ball with my friends, it seemed that more often than not on many summer weeks my “lunch bucket” would include mayonnaise covered white bread pressed against a large garden tomato, which of course was well salted.
Not only did momma serve these on a routine basis, but I can even remember going down into North Carolina to week long revival services at various churches which would culminate on a late-Friday evening with worshippers gathering around outdoor tables to feast upon this simple yet sacred southern delicacy.
The world is a far different place than I remember as a child just a handful of decades ago, but the very moment my teeth sink into that first ‘mater sandwich of summer, I am instantly transported to a world in which the years began with 19, phones were attached to walls and the mayonnaise covered bread and tomato were often the highlight of the evening.
It’s May now, but hang in there… ‘Mater sandwich season ain’t too far away!
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