An ode to the Vicksburg Tomato Sandwich
“Most Southern customs are universally Southern. But some are unique to certain cities and they just don’t mean as much anywhere else.”
I read this sentence as I was unpacking my books when my husband and I moved into our Vicksburg home this summer.
It is about the “Vicksburg Tomato Sandwich,” and it’s from a little volume on southern culture my mom gave me when I was in college. I hadn’t gotten the book out in a while, so it was serendipitous to flip through the pages and glean some insight, however true or false it may be, to my new town.
Fast forward and I’m at a cocktail party at Duff Green Mansion. It was my first time in the home, and after taking in the beautiful architecture and interiors, I caught a glimpse of round white sandwiches, with hints of red peaking out the sides, displayed beautifully on a silver tray.
Could these be Vicksburg Tomato Sandwiches?
A local attorney quickly piped in to say there is a specific way, and order in which, you are to make the sandwiches. Specifically, you use paper towels to ensure your sandwich does not get soggy.
Another guest nodded her head and exclaimed the sole argument had by she and her mother about her wedding reception was whether or not to serve tomato sandwiches.
And finally, Harley Caldwell exclaimed her friend made the Vicksburg Tomato Sandwich “famous” through a book called A Southern Belle Primer. She did indeed make the sandwich famous.
When I told coworker Terri Fraizer about writing an “ode to the Vicksburg Tomato Sandwich,” she quickly inquired if I knew that it had to be made with homemade mayonnaise. That part wasn’t in the book, but it sounds like a delicious secret Vicksburg natives may have chosen to keep to themselves.
An excerpt from the book, written by Marilyn Schwartz, is below:
“There is a right way and a wrong way to make the Vicksburg tomato sandwich… You take a round cookie cutter and cut fresh white bread in rounds. This you spread with mayonnaise. Then you very thinly slice a tomato the exact same size as the round of bread. Carefully drain this between paper towels so the tomato does not get runny and make the sandwich soggy. You place the tomato on top of the mayonnaise. If you feel like being creative, you might add a pinch of garlic, or, if you’re very daring, even a little curry powder.”
Catherine Boone Hadaway is the publisher of The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at email@example.com.