Savoring August


I am not one of those people who eagerly anticipates fall. Summer is my season. I am my happiest self between June and September. When I lived in the Caribbean, coworkers and friends who had moved to St. Thomas from somewhere with seasons would wax nostalgic about autumn: the smell of the crisp air, the turning leaves, that first cool day that makes you break out a new (or favorite old) cozy sweater. I could never sincerely contribute to these conversations. I felt INCREDIBLY lucky to be living in a gorgeous place with perfect summer temperatures year-round. I appreciated it every day, even when the Tradewinds died down and the nights were uncomfortably warm, even when I saw friends from home posting pictures from pumpkin patches or picking apples. “Great for them, not for me!” I thought.

But here we are at the beginning of August, and I’ve been back in Philadelphia for (more than) twice as long as I was in the Virgin Islands. I know these long, warm days are numbered and those pumpkin pictures are coming. (The pictures are cute! I’d just rather summer!) But, rather than lamenting the fall ahead, I plan to enjoy everything that August in Philly has to offer. I’ll be taking warm evening walks on the Schuylkill Trail (I loved Christina’s post from last week, but I’m more of a sunset person myself), trying Jeni’s new summer flavors, and enjoying summer produce in general (corn on the cob, raspberries,  watermelon), but especially heirloom tomatoes. This is primarily because a dear friend just introduced me to a delicious new (to me) sandwich: the Southern tomato sandwich. I’ll admit, at first, I was like, “yes, I like a BLT as much as the next person,” but no! This is different, and even easier!

You only need a few things! A ripe, juicy heirloom tomato, delicious bread (I prefer a sourdough for this, lightly toasted), mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. However, my friend added a special final component: nigella seeds. I know them from Armenian string cheese, but I found my own (without the pesky string cheese attached) at Penzeys, where they call them charnushka.

Spread the mayo liberally, slice those juicy tomatoes and layer them on, sprinkle with your salt, pepper, and maybe nigella seeds, then add your top slice of bread and smoooooosh for maximum juice. Just like I’m not a “fall” person, I’m not a cook at all, so while I’m surprised to find myself including a recipe here in this blog post, it’s actually exactly my speed: summery, and no actual “cooking” is involved at all.

Are you a summer person? Or are you counting down the days ‘til you can go apple picking in a cute sweater and boots? Do you have any other easy summer recipes you love on hot days or are you interested in trying nigella seeds? Let me know!   

-Mylene Kerschner, Research and Consulting Manager