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Relishing My Annual Tomato Sandwich

  [ 53 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ]
By Dalton Roberts, Chattanooga Times Free Press* • • August 16, 2008

Tomatoes and Arthritis Pain“Sex is good but not as good as fresh sweet corn,” Garrison Keillor wrote. I would amend it to say sex is not as good as a tomato sandwich.

Let me take this one step further and say, “Especially when one only eats one tomato sandwich a year.” It grieves me deeply to tell my fellow addicts this is the fate life has dealt me.

I have poured my heart out about tomato sandwiches in several columns. The first was a slurpy, sentimental tribute to the marvelous red fruit, sliced and placed on well-mayonnaised white bread. Another column gave explicit directions for making the sandwich and, to the horror of some of my tomato sandwich aficionados, accepted Miracle Whip as a substitute for mayonnaise. I almost got thrown out of the First Church of Tomatotarians for that unintentional aspersion on mayonnaise.

You may remember a heart-wrenching column in which I solemnly announced I could not eat any more tomato sandwiches because Dr. Sherry Rogers had informed me that three out of four people with arthritis got better when they quit nightshade vegetables including tomatoes and potatoes.

I have stayed with such a diet now for a year and must admit that it does diminish arthritis pain.

Today I am here to admit I have backslid. Backsliding runs in my family. Even my preacher father had a horrific temper and would say a couple of little semi-naughty words like “consarn” when he was in the throes of anger.

An aunt went to the altar for prayer at so many revivals that her nose made an indentation in it. She could not give up this alcoholic harmonica player whose company she craved and sought out shortly after the revival was over.

Back when I said I was not eating tomato sandwiches, my sister served notice on me that she was not giving them up. Her arthritis is as bad as mine but when it comes to tomatoes and potatoes, she’s an incurable sinner. She also knows I can resist anything but temptation, so every time she had a tomato sandwich she would tell me about it in mouth-watering detail. She’s primarily responsible for my downfall but offers no repentance for it.

I decided to eat one tomato sandwich per summer.

I figured one tiny sin per year was more than enough improvement for a guy who played in skull orchards, beer joints, honkytonks and nightclubs for 45 years.

So here I go to the store for a fresh jar of Miracle Whip, a loaf of white bread (that made it two sins) and fresh black pepper. When I saw I was out of Celtic Sea Salt, I delayed that one and only tomato sandwich until I could get some “Flower of the Ocean” from the Grain and Salt Society.

There’s as much difference in regular salt and Celtic Sea Salt as there is between Georgia Moon and George Dickel.** My position is if I am going to sin, I must make it as delicious as possible because public repentance is such an embarrassing thing.

I set out a big dinner plate to catch the drippings and a stack of napkins for the chin.

I even shaved the skin off the tomato. Then after laying down a thick layer of Miracle Whip, about two inches of thinly sliced tomatoes, and adding the freshly ground pepper and Flower of the Ocean, I commenced this new annual experience of dining in succulent splendor.

The birds started singing outside. I think a few angels joined in, making me feel better about backsliding. My little heart fluttered. My taste buds screamed, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Unless I backslide again, I am going to stick to my vow to make this an annual experience. I may end up in a wheelchair, but don’t they make them with trays? A man must always prepare for the possibility of backsliding.

* This article is reproduced with kind permission of the author, Dalton Roberts (“The Downhome Philosopher”), from the Friday, August 15, 2008 issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga, Tennessee To read more of Mr. Dalton’s amusing columns, visit his website at E-mail Dalton Roberts at

** The first is 100 proof corn whiskey bottled in a Mason Jar. The second is a brand of aged Tennessee “whisky.”

Note: Researchers tend to agree the effects of different foods on arthritis symptoms may differ greatly from one person to another. According to a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Report, "there is no strong, reproducible evidence that any foods or diets have a specific role in causing or treating rheumatoid arthritis. It is important for people who have RA to eat a healthy, balanced diet... [and] it is important to discuss any major dietary changes with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian."

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Article Comments Post a Comment

Tomato Sandwiches
Posted by: Grammcrkrs
Aug 20, 2008
Dalton Roberts is a person after my own heart re: tomato sandwiches and their succulence...but I'm with his sister! I'm going to eat them year round...and there's certainly nothing like a JUICY, fresh, beefsteak tomato to make the sandwich perfect! ~It's a sin to waste a tomato! ~ Gramms
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