How To Make a Tomato Sandwich – or Mater Saminch

3 Comments By 

Just the other day, I was looking through one of those “country Wanda be” magazines. You know the ones, those that have pictures of old furniture out in the yard with ankle-high grass under a tree like a “Little House on the Prairie” show set. They take rustic to a high level and attempt to suggest there are people who actually live that way out under the trees. I don’t think so in our state due to the fact that if they did, there is not enough Backwoods Off available to keep the chiggers and ticks away, while sitting in our tall grass around a table eating little cucumber sandwiches.

The thing that caught my attention in the magazine was a recipe for a tomato sandwich. ‘Mater saminches are my specialty, so I was real interested in what trendy folks do to make one. Right off the bat I knew who ever wrote that recipe never grew a homegrown tomato in Tennessee.

In the first line, they suggested using slices of challah or brioche bread with butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. First of all, I really don’t know what those breads are, and second, sea salt was not a staple in my mama’s kitchen cabinet – and she’s from whom I learned to make ‘mater saminches from at an early age. And everyone knows it is Miracle Whip – not butter – on lite bread that makes a real mater saminch.

So, I guess it is up to me once again to repeat the true art of making a Tennessee ‘mater saminch so the influence of the trendy people will not corrupt the mater-saminch-making process. To those who are not schooled on the correct terminology of what to call those beautiful red fruits, there is a difference between a tomato and a ‘mater.” A tomato by some standards is a fruit grown hundreds of miles away. A ‘mater is a bright red, juicy fruit that has had our love and care for several months and is most certainly what you would call a real “homebody.” Homegrown ‘maters are what summer is all about.

A country ‘mater sandwich has to be made in an orderly routine using mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, white bread (or lite bread as it is called in the country), and a fresh ripe ‘mater from the garden.

You place two slices of fresh lite bread on a plate. Next, take a kitchen knife and spread a good amount of mayonnaise on both slices of bread. Make sure the knife hits the sides of the mayonnaise jar so a clink can be heard sounding from inside the jar. This doesn’t help the taste of the sandwich, but it reminds you to buy more mayonnaise the next time you are at the store. We are all hoping for a good ‘mater season this year, and we wouldn’t want to run low on mayonnaise.

Next, slice your homegrown mater, avoiding the temptation to swipe a slice to eat now, into several thick slices. You should not be able to read a newspaper through any of the slices. This helps hold in the juice, and besides, if you wanted thin slices you could have gotten a tomato at a restaurant in town.

Add pepper and salt as desired. Place the slices on the lite bread, and gently put the pieces of bread together. Ladies may want to cut the sandwich in a triangle, but real Tennessee ‘mater-eaters like their sandwiches whole to avoid the losing of any juice. Bite into your sandwich and enjoy what summer is all about.

Happy ‘mater saminch eating, and I hope none of it drips down your arm. Of course, if you are eating outside at one of those dining room sets in the yard that really won’t matter.


  1. Charlotte

    August 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I like ‘tomato sandwich’, too.

  2. Sam McPherson

    April 21, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Only Pettus Read can turn the making of a ‘mater sanmich into a video tutorial, complete with a ‘mater that is “gifted” in both meanings of the word.

    I could almost taste it!

  3. Spencer Montgomery

    September 27, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    A tomato sandwich sounds good right now. I personally have not tasted a challah but your post made me want to try one. Bread really is an essential component when it comes to making a yummy sandwich. I’ve been too busy to make meals at home lately, though, so I might need to look for a sandwich shop soon.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected

Made in Tennessee giveaways, exciting events, delicious recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox.