Bacon and mater

I recently ate the first of hopefully many bacon-tomato sandwiches this summer and oh my gawd…

I've long said that if the Almighty had a favorite dish it would absolutely be fried wild turkey breast. With a thoughtful chef using subtle seasoning that accents but never overpowers the turkey's inherent deliciousness, and great care taken to not overcook, wild turkey breast is simply in a class of its own paired even with the paltry peasant fare of mac and cheese and sweet buttered corn. But as I lick the heavenly combination of bacon grease, mayonnaise, and tomato juice from my lips (wiping such precious residue on a towel or shirtsleeve would be blasphemous), I'm not so sure.

It's been last summer since the sweetness and tang of a tomato grown in the same soil embedded under my fingernails melded with the smoky, salty, red-meat richness of a pig who lived on soil I can walk on, albeit, after a short drive.

No pics of the first sandwich because I simply could not control my urges to demolish it. That's a photo of the second one... which didn't last long either. Our "recipe' is a variant of the norm. We replace lettuce with a base layer of garden spinach (more nutritious and we like the flavor) and slide a slice of cheese (Gouda is an incredible accompaniment, though, we can't find it locally made) over bacon still crackling from the cast-iron skillet and now resting on the spinach, which is itself resting on lightly toasted bread. A whole-grain, hearty bread stands boldly alongside those robust flavors while holding everything together better than flimsy ol' white bread.

Back to the bacon for a bit: if you’re not eating local-grown, open-air, pasture-raised pork you’re not really eating pork. You’re eating an engineered commodity masquerading as pork, and everything and everyone — the water, the air, the land, the pig that died, and you — is poorer for it.

Pile tomato slices -- as many as you can fit -- on top of that cheese. My favorites are Arkansas travelers and Cherokee purples, but really any fresh and local tomato will do. "Local" is important because in its highest form this is a meal every bit about place. In fact, the place is what makes the flavor in so many subtle ways that your tastebuds will pick up on but you'll never consciously think about. So tomatoes from your own garden or a friend with a green thumb or the local farmers' market are the commanding costars of this production. Zero room for compromise here. Nothing you’ll find at the grocery store, shipped from half a continent away, will even come close to the sun-ripened goodness baked into tomatoes from your home.

Slather only REAL mayonnaise into every nook and cranny of the bread that’ll hold it. Bacon and mater sandwiches are never the place for Miracle Whip. I wonder… is any place "the place" for Miracle Whip? Ease the mayo-covered slice of bread on top and enjoy the visual ensemble for a second or two. Look with wonder upon the green and ripe-red of plants that grew under the same warm rays that tan your skin. Notice the burgundy meat and caramelized fat of an animal who experienced the same frosty mornings you did last winter.

Now try to take small bites and chew and chew and chew, though, I know controlling the urge to wolf it down is extremely difficult. But you should deeply and lovingly taste one of summer’s most iconic symphonies of flavor while it's here.

As the katydids crank up, and the breezes of coming twilight swirl through the blackeyed-Susans, and you lick the grease and mayonnaise and tomato juice from your lips, know you're blessed in this moment. And that the simple goodness of a bacon and tomato sandwich in its freshest and tastiest glory is here for our rapture only a little while.

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