The Search for the Perfect Tomato (And Mayo That Doesn’t Suck)

The Search for the Pefect Tomato (and Mayo That Doesn't Suck) | Foodal.com

Though this story is really about the search for the perfect summer-ripe tomato, it begins with mayonnaise.

As a kid, I used to love to eat mayonnaise sandwiches. It’s true.

Maybe for the mayonnaise-averse this seems like a terrifying and entirely unappetizing prospect, but for me, it was a delight.

First of all, the mayonnaise had to be Hellmann’s. None of that sickly sweet-tasting (to me, at least) Miracle Whip was getting past these lips. Somehow, I could also always detect whether the store brand stuff had been used instead, and that wasn’t good enough either.

There was something special about that unique Hellmann’s blend of egg, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and oil. Even when I (occasionally) take the time to make my own homemade mayo at home today, it’s just not the same.

A Matter of Branding

I wouldn’t say I’m brand-obsessed, but sometimes those flavors that we associate so deeply with childhood stick with us through the years. They’re impossible to substitute, and many of us jump at the chance to replicate those feelings, if the opportunity arises.

You can imagine my horror when I ventured across the country for the first time, leaving the east coast for California where my husband was about to start a new job.

Fresh out of grad school, and though I was a “world traveler” as my mom likes to say (after several trips not only all up and down the east coast, but across the ocean to various European countries and way up north to Montreal, too), I had never been further west at that point in my life than Tennessee.

Within hours of our arrival in the Golden State, my husband and I enacted a sort of ritual. Though it’s not particularly exotic, and far from entertaining for most people, we did what I love to do in every new place that we visit (or in this case, come to call home):

We went grocery shopping.

New Vacation Craze?

Maybe I’m weird, but visiting grocery stores in new places is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Farmers markets rank high on the list as well, but they serve as actual destinations for many travelers. Grocery stores, on the other hand, are not exactly tourist attractions.

Grocery shopping while on vaction. The new trend? | Foodal.com

For me, part of the allure of checking out the local supermarket in a new place is that chance to get a true slice of life, to live the way the locals do and eat what they eat.

I love walking up and down the aisles, checking out the featured displays and baked goods, the pre-made salads and the candy.

I even like to indulge in things that I only consume one or two (okay, more like five or six?) times a year, like soda, just to see if there’s a flavor available from a company that I’ve never heard of (or only read about in books!) that I’ve never had the opportunity to try before.

Local Supermarkets

Grocery stores give me a taste of the local flavor, the regional items that are still too tough to ship to all fifty states or the oldies-but-goodies that still exist at a local level, but that are unable to compete for shelf space with the Cokes and Pepsis and Cadburys of the world.

Usually, on these trips, I delight in the new and as-yet undiscovered. But in this particular case, I quickly realized that something very important was missing.

All of My Favorite Foods are Gone!

Okay, so the thing that was actually missing had nothing to do with mayonnaise. It was Ellio’s Pizza. And TastyKakes were absent, too. So were Herr’s Old Bay potato chips.

If you’ve never heard of any of these, I assure you, you are missing out.

These tastes of home – made in Jersey and Pennsylvania – hadn’t been available during my multi-year stint up in Boston during grad school either, and I’d adjusted (by ordering chips by the case, getting my aunt to send me care packages filled with local sweets, and bingeing on local specialties every time I was home). I’d learned how to deal with this.

The problem in California was that my beloved mayonnaise was missing.

… Or was it?

Mayo in Disguise

As I scanned the shelf for the Hellmann’s, I saw another jar with a blue and yellow label, tied with a blue printed-on ribbon, but it was not called Hellmann’s.

No, the Hellmann’s name had been entirely erased. And in its place I read: Best Foods.

Say what? This was a new one.

Hellmann's vs Best Foods Mayo | Foodal.com

Wondering how this could possibly be:

  • Was Hellmann’s somehow bought out and all the jars banished from the shelves and replaced with new ones bearing the name of their new overlord in the time that it took for me to travel from one side of the country to the other?
  • Was another product with long standing also produced by a well-known Hellmann in California?
  • Did Californians simply not like Germans???

I hesitated before gingerly placing a jar in my cart.

The verdict was:

It tasted exactly the same.

A Brand by Any Other Name

According to a piece that ran in the Huffington Post, Hellmann’s was in fact bought out—in 1932.

Here’s a quick synopsis of what went down in the years to follow:

• Hellmann’s was doing well on the east coast at the time, so it didn’t seem like a good idea to force the name change.

• The blue ribbon didn’t appear on packaging found on both coasts until 1968, also original to the Hellmann’s brand.

• In 2000 Unilever bought Best Foods, and in 2007 they apparently decided to make the labels on the mayo identical (except for the name).

I was entirely unaware of all of this.

This article also mentions that some people think Best Foods and Hellmann’s mayo use slightly different recipes, and that they can taste the difference. I beg to differ.

Okay, so back to the mayonnaise sandwiches.

In Search of a Better Sandwich

I definitely didn’t eat them regularly—my health-conscious mother and grandmother wouldn’t have allowed that.

In fact, I didn’t really eat them as any sort of “meal replacement” to begin with. Sometimes I really just liked to slather my Kaiser or onion or snowflake roll with mayo and chow down, leaving a pile of lettuce and tomato and cold cuts on the side to eat later.

Little by little, this bread and unctuous condiment obsession (doughy, salty, fatty and a bit sweet—what’s not to love?) transformed into a desire for something more substantive, something more adult, something more… sandwich-like.

That was when I started adding thick slices of tomato to my mayonnaise sandwiches.

The Perfect Tomato…

Within the realm of summertime tomato eating, at least where I’m from, there are rules.

Perfect Summertime Tomatoes | Foodal.com

Whether you grow these juicy orbs in your own backyard or pick them up from a farm stand on your way back from the Jersey shore, perfect tomatoes should be eaten as quickly as possible and never refrigerated.

Perfect summertime tomatoes are a gift, a representation of an idea. These are tomatoes as they should be.

Perfect tomatoes are not mealy or slimy, lacking color or juice (and especially the juice, which can be delicious in a healthy homemade V8-style tomato juice). Instead they’re rich and flavorful, and the seeds will dribble down your chin if you bite into one just picked from the garden, still warm from the heat of the summer sun.

The Search For the Perfect Tomato: Heirlooms | Foodal.com

Though a fresh homemade marinara sauce is impressive, that’s not what sun-ripened beefsteak or Jersey or heirloom tomatoes are for. They’re for slicing and eating, maybe with a little bit of salt, sometimes on their own but usually as a welcome addition to a tasty sandwich.

Sometimes, if you’re a true tomato aficionado, perfect tomatoes remain the star of the show on a tomato sandwich.

Again, freshness is key here and there’s no need for cooking. I’m not talking about a grilled cheese with garden tomato (though those are nice). I don’t mean a crusty bagel slathered with a smear of cream cheese and topped with a few thick slices of tomato either (though those can be great, too).

No, I’m talking about the tomato sandwich, nothing more and nothing less.

… And the Perfect Tomato Sandwich

When it comes to the perfect summertime tomato sandwich, if you’re not a mayonnaise lover, you’re not going to like it.

The Perfect Tomato and Mayo Sandwich | Foodal.com

And I wish you luck, because in my opinion, an aversion to mayonnaise is a sad thing indeed (but, to each his own).

The mayonnaise creates the perfect salty, creamy, fatty counterpoint to the juicy, sweet, acidic tomato. Spread it on bread (sourdough is nice, or any of the many aforementioned types of roll) and layer on the tomatoes.

The Best Tomato and Mayo Sandwich | FoodaL.COM

Sometimes I like to alternate juicy, thick slices of zebra, pineapple and Cherokee purple tomatoes for a visually stunning rainbow of tomato goodness. If you want, add just a sprinkling of flaked or coarse salt (maybe a little fleur de sel or sel gris) and you’re ready to go.

Making the Best Mayo and Tomato Sandwich | Foodal.com

Sure, basil and mozzarella with tomato is a nice combo if that’s your thing. I’m partial to tomato on a tuna melt or a club sandwich, a BLT, or even a ham and swiss myself.

But this particular sandwich… it just screams summer.

Flavor You Can Taste

So, back to flavor.

If you’ll rewind with me for a moment, the issue at hand when I discovered that the Californians had messed with my mayonnaise came down to flavor.

What I feared most in the world as I hesitantly reached for that jar labeled “Best Foods” and placed it in my cart was that it would not in fact be the same thing as what I was used to and knew so well and loved, and that I would have to suffer without normal/real/tasty mayonnaise for the duration of my time in California, with no clear end date in sight.

What I feared most in the world as I hesitantly reached for that jar labeled “Best Foods” and placed it in my cart was that it would not in fact be the same thing as what I was used to and knew so well and loved, and that I would have to suffer without normal/real/tasty mayonnaise for the duration of my time in California, with no clear end date in sight.

Not officially a deal breaker but… sort of a deal breaker?

… I mean, my husband was only my fiance at the time… (I kid! I kid!)

But really, once I got that jar home and cautiously slathered some on bread—

(Okay, I’ll be honest—I dipped a spoon in and licked the mayo straight off the spoon to do my taste test.

Is this weird?

Full disclosure: I eat peanut butter straight off the spoon too, probably way more often than I should within the supposed bounds of “normalcy” and perhaps acceptable daily fat intake. Now you know. Please get over it.)

—With a sigh of relief, I knew I would be able to stay in California because that mayonnaise with the weird name tasted the way it was supposed to.

As for the local tomatoes, that was a different story.

What’s Up With California Tomatoes?

The problem here mostly has to do with the rain. Or rather, the lack of rain.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard about the multi-year drought that we’re currently in the middle of in California. (In case you missed it, take a moment to catch up a bit here, here and here).

Tomatoes don’t really like drought, and though some farmers are successfully embarking on a new adventure called dry farming, often claiming that it actually enhances the tomato flavor of their crops, these specialists are currently few and far between.

In general, tomatoes and other crops that require a lot of water to grow are suffering.

While the tomatoes back home on the east coast are flourishing, the ones that I’ve found lately in the regular grocery store here in California are mealy and pale. In my mind, this is entirely unacceptable in the middle of August.

While the tomatoes back home on the east coast are flourishing, the ones that I’ve found lately in the regular grocery store here in California are mealy and pale. In my mind, this is entirely unacceptable in the middle of August.

Based on my own observation, the bulk of these tomatoes are probably coming from somewhere else, often outside the US. They’re being shipped long distances and losing the integrity of their flavor and structure along the way.

Meanwhile, in the mid-Atlantic…

But back to those east coast tomatoes for a second—though I had a few delicious specimens (and only a few, since my bout with acid reflux is currently back with a vengeance—but that’s a different story!) when I was visiting my family this summer (mostly grown by my stepfather, in glorious abundance—they’ve even laid claim to the same territory as the rose bushes in the front yard!) and saw quite a few more at the local farm stands and farmers markets, many tomato lovers in the mid-Atlantic region claim something important is missing, and it has been for a long time.

Basically, they’re lamenting the plight of the true Jersey tomato. Though the farm stands are packed to the gills with enticing red (and green and yellow and orange and purple….) orbs, they’re just not the same as the perfect tomatoes that I remember from my childhood, and even more so, not the same as those who came generations before me remember from their childhoods.

The classic “Jersey tomato” had a specific flavor and texture that has largely been bred out of our tomatoes today.

In Search of The Perfect Tomato: Heirlooms | Foodal.com

Commercial growers specialize in selling huge volumes of product, and tomatoes without reliable traits that support high yields and long shelf lives simply aren’t sustainable. And so, many of the most beloved flavor characteristics of tomatoes have been bred out and lost over the years.

In fact, that’s why heirloom tomatoes have seen such a comeback. Grown from seeds passed down through the generations, tomato lovers who seek these out claim they have qualities of taste and texture that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Heirlooms tend to spoil quickly (though this is often not the case when it comes to commercial “heirloom” varieties), so they’re difficult to sell in volume or to ship long distances. However, they do extremely well in the local farm market circuit.

Desperately Seeking Jersey Tomatoes

The thing is, though heirlooms come in many varieties, the classic Jersey tomato is something altogether different, and far more perfect according to those who wax nostalgic as they look longingly into the middle distance, remembering this tasty tomato of the past.

In Search of the Perfect Tasting Tomato | Foodal.com

If you took a moment to check out the link posted above, when I first mentioned the fans of this tomato who are lamenting its plight, then you already know there are growers at Rutgers University who have been tinkering with tomato varieties to bring back that lost flavor.

Though it may be impossible to truly replicate, they’re fighting to grow a new tomato that reminds fans of the Jersey of the old one, one that’s bright red when ripe, with certain qualities of sweetness and acidity that are reminiscent of the “real thing.”

Recreating the Jersey Tomato | Foodal.com

I shuddered at the thought of losing the taste of my beloved mayonnaise, and I’m saddened to think that the tomatoes that I’m able to get in California today simply aren’t as good as the ones I get at home due to the weather, but I wonder:

Is recreating the flavor of a lost tomato a worthy cause?

Does the perfect tomato really exist only in the past, and in our memories?

So much of our love of and desire for food is tied up in ideas about authenticity, and feelings of nostalgia. The sensory experiences that we have when we try certain foods for the first time, or over and over again throughout our lives, create deep grooves of lasting memory.

Food and Memories | Foodal.com

This seems to be true for just about everyone, whether or not you’re a fan of tomatoes or mayonnaise or even snowflake rolls.

But the thing is, you know what those favorites are, what it is that you’re willing to drive out of state for or when it’s worth it to pay more for airmail shipping on dry ice than you’ve paid for the actual product.

This is what the quest for the perfect tomato truly is; this is the essence of the foodie.

Got a bone to pick with the word foodie? Are tomato sandwiches your jam? (Or maybe you prefer scooping out the insides, and filling them up with tuna salad or something instead?)

Or do you want to share your latest treatise on why mayonnaise absolutely must be banned immediately? Feel free to share all of this and more with me in the comments.

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About Allison Sidhu

Allison M. Sidhu is a foodie from Philly who is based in Los Angeles, where she loves exploring the local restaurant scene with her husband. She holds a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a food-filled magazine at the beach.

32 thoughts on “The Search for the Perfect Tomato (And Mayo That Doesn’t Suck)”

  1. No mayo can ever come close to Hellmann’s. In fact, if there’s no Hellmann’s available then I simply won’t bother with mayo at all. Thankfully, it can be bought everywhere in the UK, under it’s original name. The low calorie versions of this product are a complete abomination, as are the flaovured varieties you sometimes see.

    • You and my mother would be fast friends. I do believe that “Best Foods” is the same as Hellman’s, just under a different name. I honestly think they’re made by the same people, or at least, I think they used to be. I grew up on Hellman’s, but the other is either the same maker or very, very similar. Probably the only other one I’d give a nod.

      No Miracle Whip in this house and no cheap spread either!

      Look at those pictures! Those sammiches look delish! I’ve never seen them prepared like that, but my daughter would enjoy something like this immensely.

    • You’re right about that low calorie nonsense. It’s just wrong! I’d disagree with Hellmann’s being the best however. You should look out for a brand called Crucials. They’re, in my opinion of course, the only brand that has ever topped Hellmann’s. They also do a huge amount of other flavours (their burger sauce is superb!)

    • I’d really love to indulge in mayo but currently trying to lose pounds round the waist and hips but still maintain the curves 😉 had no clue about Hellmann’s mayo…next time am in a craving situation, am seeking out that specific mayo. Page bookmarked for future reference.

  2. I only started to enjoy raw tomatoes in the last several years. I love those small cherry ones that are perfect for snacking. I think tomatoes are such a beautiful and versatile food. I’m one of the people who thinks that the main ingredient (and most important to get right) on a pizza is the tomato sauce.

    Perfect tomato, though? Tough to say. There are so many varieties, I like to focus on what each one is good for.
    I had never heard of a tomato sandwich before today. I may have to try it out when I decide to start eating less meat.

  3. I love a good tomato! I enjoy slicing them up and eating them with salt. I also of course put them in salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and just about anything else possible. I don’t eat a lot of mayonnaise, but I agree, miracle whip just isn’t the same. I also enjoy visiting grocery shops wherever I go, so I can see what the locals eat. I have a difficult time finding larger jars of good dill relish here, and the most popular brand is not my favorite. Hopefully I will someday find everything I still crave from back home down here, but for now, I make do with what I can find. And, now I’m craving tomatoes!

  4. When I was a child I made mustard sandwiches. I have grown to like mayo a bit more than I ever did in the past. Whenever I get the chance, I buy corn from food carts. It has butter, mayo and promesian cheese all over. Oh and by the way, we buy Miracle whip in our house, lol.

  5. My mother-in-law, bless the major green thumb she has, recently started growing some fruits and vegetables in her backyard after her housing renovation (which took longer than expected but the results were awesome). She has always grown some sort of delicious snacks in the garden so she wasn’t new to this. And yet, despite the drought, she has gotten SO many tomatoes (I think she grows the small cherry ones and one of the roma variety). I like to help her pluck them off the vines when I go over to visit, and by golly they are always juicy and delicious no matter what.

    Every time I eat some of the red fruit (or is it a vegetable?) grown from the dirt in her yard, I can never eat supermarket-varieties anymore. Spoiled, if I may say so myself 😛

    And no, you’re not the only one who likes to wander around the aisles of a supermarket when they go to a new town. It’s actually kind of cool to see how they have everything set up and what, like you said, their particular store has to offer!

  6. As a Southerner, I’ve grown up on Duke’s Mayo. It’s a little more tart than regular mayo. (I think there’s a little bit of lemon juice in there) I just can’t have anything, else, though. It never tastes right. My family always joked about that Best Foods brand, thinking that it was just a ridiculously try-hard knock-off brand. I’ll have to share this with them.

  7. Nothing beats home grown tomatoes. When I was a child we used to have a garden in our backyard where our mother grew a bunch of vegetables. Most of the stuff she made for us to eat was made using her own homegrown vegetables. The vegetables were a lot smaller than the ones from the market but they tasted that much better.

  8. I’m not quite so picky about Mayonnaise, but I certainly am not fooled by Miracle Whip type replacements. As for tomatoes, a good tomato can be the perfect addition to a meal, but a bad one ruins it. They have to be just right.

  9. I totally agree with you on visiting grocery stores while traveling! It’s such an adventure, searching for new flavors – especially when in a different country. I visited Finland twice and my first time I spent hours at grocery stores, one after another… The same day I arrived. Didn’t experience jet lag, luckily, I had so much adrenaline and just wanted to look at everything! I find it strange when people travel and don’t take pictures of grocery stores. For instance, I asked my brother who traveled to Australia for photos of interesting items he finds at stores. No photos were taken! Craziness, I tell ya…

    I’m so not into mayo, at all… But it was very interesting reading your stories! I’m also not such a picky tomato eater, I’ll settle for any that I find in my local market. My grandmother grew tomatoes (along with a bunch of veggies!) and I do remember they were the best I have tasted – still to this day 🙂

  10. I love tomato sandwiches! I get a fresh thick and juicy tomato from my garden every day, around lunch time, and then I cut it into thick slices. I do prefer Best Foods mayo. I lightly toast a couple of slices of sourdough bread for this sandwich, place the tomato slices on the bread, apply a generous coat of my favorite spice (pepper) and a very light dusting of garlic salt. It is simply delicious!

  11. I’m familiar with the mayo struggle. I was picky about which kinds of mayo I used, and I hated Miracle Whip style salad dressings, but then I became a vegan. There are so many nasty vegan mayos. Most of them are way too sweet or acidic, or they have an overwhelming soy flavor. I finally found a suitable alternative to Hellmann’s in Vegenaise. So far, Vegenaise is the ONLY vegan mayo that comes close to any non-vegan mayo. I still don’t know if it’s good enough to feature in a mayo-heavy tomato sandwich though.

  12. Sorry guys but I used o be a big fan of Miracle Whip. I still prefer it in certain recipes (tuna fish, egg salad, etc). I have gravitated to making my own however, specifically using organic ingredients like spinach and avocados. I find that when I incorporate my veggies in, I tend to like the balance of flavors more when mixing vegetarian only meals and salads.

  13. Great article! I’m loving all of those tomato colors and shapes, had no idea there were so many.
    And you’re right about mayo. I moved to another country and started to really struggle with mayo flavors (some even taste like plastic here!). Until I mentioned it to my mom during a call and she said she never bought mayo in our house, she would always make her own. It was so much cheaper and tasted a lot better than most store bought as you season it! You should definitely give it a try 🙂

  14. I also love checking out new groceries. My husband always teases me that I like browsing around groceries even if I know exactly what’s in there. But actually, I don’t know all of them. Sometimes, new brands come out and if you don’t scour through the aisles, you wouldn’t see them. I like trying out new flavors of chips or drinks too. I remember a time when I got addicted to Piknik in the spicy variant. Or when I hated the taste of Carmen Claire’s (local ice cream brand) cereal flavor. At least I got to try it lol.

    Anyway, tomatoes are such a great addition to any sandwich or salad. Here in our country, it is an essential ingredient in meals. We tend to buy tomatoes in local markets here as they are cheaper and fresher. I think though that nothing beats home grown produce but sadly, tomatoes aren’t one of the produce in our little garden. Luckily, it’s readily available in a nearby market.

    I’m not partial to mayonnaise as some other posters. My favorite spread is cheese. There’s this local one from a bread making store which I love. I guess it is just a matter of preference actually.

  15. Thanks for this delightful post! I am with you on the nostalgia of eating a real tomato with a sprinkle of salt. Now days, it is so frustrating to eat tomatoes today, with their plastic peelings and tough insides. Fortunately, I grow tomatoes in my garden, so in season, I am able to enjoy a delicious, organic tomato.
    Your discovery about the mayonnaise was interesting. It is weird seeing those labels side by side. Although I can not, at all, relate to your love for mayo sandwiches; I am happy you found the desired taste.

  16. I have a friend who has a tomato garden right outside my window in our apartment complex. She lets me pick tomatoes from it and they’re so delicious and fresh. They do however go bad kind of quickly. I don’t think they need any seasoning, but that’s just me.

  17. The images on this post of all the wonderful varieties and colours of tomato made my mouth water! I adore tomatoes and I use a huge amount in my cooking. I have tried to grow my own, with limited success – probably due to not having a greenhouse – and am currently sitting on packets of seeds for all sorts of weird and wonderful tomatoes but I just haven’t had the time this year to actually get them ‘in the ground’ so to speak. All my seeds are heirloom; not only are they of a much higher quality than hybrid, but of course you can store seeds to plant in later years. When I was little, my family had an allotment, and I can still remember the excitement of peering amongst the leaves of the tomato plants in the greenhouse to find a shiny, ripe tomato – it was like magic!

  18. I love mayonaise and and tomato sandwiches. These are two of my favorite things. Interesting, the information on Hellmann’s. It is amazing how many people only eat Hellmann’s mayonaise and won’t try any other. I have to agree about the quality of tomatoes that one finds in some areas being better than others. I would like to try growing my own.

  19. I cannot stand plain mayo sandwiches but might eat them if it was a small amount with other distracting flavors. I personally like the cherry tomatoes that my grandmother grows – which kind, I really don’t know but will have to ask her.

  20. You are so right Allison. I too remember having mayo sandwiches as a kid, and my first year away from home as a freshman in college. Mine too had to be Hellmann’s or nothing at all. It might sound cheesy, but sometimes a little Hellmann’s mayo in a recipe can make all the difference. Thank you very much for all the tomato tips. I didn’t even know there was such a large variety of them. The sandwiches look amazing! Very eye-catching.

  21. There has got to be a recipe for Hellman’s Mayonaise that is close to perfect? I would love to try and make my own because they charge double the price in my country. I am sure it would be more cost effective. Perhaps you know of one that comes close. If you do, please share it with us.

  22. I adore sandwhiches with tomatoes and mayonaise! I was really obsessed with it when I was a kid, just like you.
    My favourite brand was a local one, though. The story of Hellmans rebranding made me laugh when I imagined your shock upon seeing the imposter! What a weird thing to do.

  23. Ah I’m the complete opposite. I hate Hellman’s. It smells so strongly of vinegar and egg to me. I can only take miracle whip because it doesn’t smell as much. If the mayonnaise contains olive oil then it smells even less so I love getting olive oil miracle whip. My mom has been trying to get me to eat Hellman’s for years and I just can’t get past the smell. Even if she only puts a tiny amount on a sandwich I can smell it. I have never heard of the brand Best foods though, I didn’t even know it existed, but I’m from Texas so that probably has a role to play in it. I do love a good tomato on my sandwich but my mom can’t stand them(she thinks it makes the bread soggy) so I don’t have them on my sandwiches often.

  24. I was able to identify with the author’s story completely. I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and was shocked at the differences in the food variety. Many of the foods I loved were not present in the stores and there were foods I had never even heard of available. The positive side though was I got to be introduced to new foods that I found were amazing (like kohlrabi), but I still really miss some of the things I have known my whole life which are not available out here.

    When I choose a tomato, I typically go for the reddest one I can find that is still firm. I also have to smell it to see if it has a slight sweet smell. If it smells “earthy” I will not buy it, that is an indication of mold (I bit into one once that looked find but had that “earthy” smell and it tasted moldy). I also prefer to buy them on the vine.

    • Thanks for your comment, toradrake! I knew some of my readers would be able to identify with the regional differences between the east and west coasts!

      I’ve never heard of looking out for that earthy smell before- in my mind, fresh tomatoes have a touch of a good earthy smell, whereas mold is something a bit different. Maybe that’s just me, though. This is a great tip!

      Something else that might interest you- purchasing them on the vine definitely looks nice, but it doesn’t actually affect the quality at all. Since the vine itself has already been separated from the larger plant, it doesn’t actually continue to sustain the tomatoes in any significant way.

  25. I really enjoyed reading this article. Made me dream about fresh, delicious, juicy, ripe (I could just keep adding adjectives) tomatoes. The best ones I’ve had lately are multi colored cherries that some of our friends who own a market garden grow. They aren’t really sandwich material in my books but they are absolutely amazing eaten plain. Delicious and sweet as candy! They never last long at our house.
    I am not a big mayo fan, but I do enjoy a good tomato sandwich with mayo. The bread absolutely must be toasted though. Makes it much better.
    I don’t really know much about mayo (to my shame I like miracle whip better) but I would have to agree that Hellman’s is the best. I live in eastern Canada and they have the alternate western brand too. Go figure.

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