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Creole Tomato Sandwiches

Summer comes early in New Orleans and stays too long but one thing we have to look forward to is the arrival of the Creole tomatoes. Creole tomatoes are not a particular type of tomato but as my dad always told me that Creoles are tomatoes grown in the rich, acidic soil in Louisiana. It was where they were grown that was important.

One of my favorite things to make when the big, juicy tomatoes would ripen in the yard was Creole tomato sandwiches. I'm not sure if these sandwiches are popular in other parts of the world but at our house they were popular. We would pick the large warm tomatoes and cut them in slices. They were usually the perfect size to fit the bread. The bread had to be white Bunny bread and on those toasted slices of bread we would smear Blue Plate (it HAS to be Blue Plate) mayonnaise. Slices would be stacked with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper in between each slice. Occasionally I would sneak in a few thin slices of Vidalia onions if they were available. That was it. So simple, so unassuming but what joy those sandwiches brought us. We knew that soon it would be hot and the garden would suffer as much as we would (except for the okra! which we would eat raw off the bush sometimes!) but for those last few weeks of bearable heat we would eat the sandwiches outside.

A few days ago I bought some Creole tomatoes and watched them turn bright red almost before my eyes. They are from Sicilian-American farmers with the familiar name of Liuzza. So, while in isolation during this coronavirus pandemic my sister and I are making sandwiches just like the ones we used to make when we were kids.

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I was told by an uncle who had a career in produce in New Orleans that there used to be a particular variety of tomato that was called the Creole, but it either no longers exists or the details of it are lost to history. He spent considerable effort trying to track it down but never could. Your research agrees with what he eventually found; Any tomato grown in Louisiana soil can rightfully be called Creole.

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