Make sure the bread is warm, Marty O'Malia said, describing a tomato sandwich beautiful in its simplicity.
"Don't use cold bread from the refrigerator," he cautioned. "It should be warm."
"And the tomato should be warm, too," an enthusiastic bystander chimed in.
A dab of mayo, a slice of sun-drenched tomato and warm bread. Ah!
It's not complicated, and it's a favorite way for O'Malia to enjoy the tomatoes he grows on his Plains Township farm.
His other way is when his wife makes a toasted cheese sandwich with a slice of tomato and a slice of sweet onion – he calls them "candy onions" and "Pennsylvania's answer to a Vidalia."
If you visit the Pittston Tomato Festival tomorrow through Sunday, you'll find tomatoes of all sorts – crushed into sauce, spread over pizza or sizzled into some other hot dish.
But if you make the rounds of a Farmers Market and ask the farmers how they prefer to eat tomatoes, you'll find many fans of the fruit in its raw state, unadorned except for a few seasonings.
Sandy Beaver, who last week staffed a farmer's market booth for Zimmerman's Farms of Schuylkill County, suggests adding salt, pepper, vinegar, celery and a dash of sugar to bite-size pieces of tomato. "I call that tomato salad," she said.
How much sugar does she add?
"I never measure," she said. "I just pour."
Lisa Ryman of Ryman's Farm in Nescopeck admits she's not a tomato fan. But her father is.
"Last night I made a BLT for him," she said, suggesting that's a quick and easy way to turn a tomato into a meal.
Sixteen-year-old David West, who participates in the Luzerne Intermediate Unit's "Dream Green" program, said he recommends fresh, raw, tomatoes, too, whether they're little cherry tomatoes or larger varieties, such as the ones he's been weeding and harvesting at the Lands at Hillside Farms.
What: 29th annual Pittston Tomato Festival
Where: Main Street in downtown Pittston
When: 5 to 11 p.m. tomorrow; 5:30-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
More info: 655-2398