Too many sandwiches on this campus have tomatoes
Last week I went to Twinnie’s, the engineering quad’s beloved cafe, for a sandwich. As I examined their vast selection, one contestant caught my eye: the Turkey and Avocado and Bacon Sandwich. His frankness both surprised and intrigued me. The name listed every item on it and absolutely nothing else; this was a sandwich for the busy student, who wanted a no-frills lunch that was both delicious and nutritious. It was a sandwich for the student who wanted their food to be honest and who derived immense satisfaction from taking a simple but effective approach to catering. It was the sandwich for me. Out of hunger and respect, I ordered one and waited.
But I was deceived.
From the first bite of the sandwich, my tongue was assaulted by a pungent acidity that immediately overwhelmed all other flavor. Worse, the texture was that of wet rubber: soft and fibrous, but incredibly wet and slippery. Another ingredient was present, and there was more of it than even the avocado which was crucial to the name of the sandwich. Once again, Duke Dining prompted me to eat something with tomato.
Let’s take a step back and look at the tomato as a fruit. The taste of a tomato is quite good, even if it is strong. It’s sweet, tangy, just a little sour, and surprisingly tasty; not my favorite, but I can see why others like it. The texture is more of a mixed bag, with some relatively rubbery parts and an uncomfortable amount of juiciness, but it also has its time and place. Even though my personal preferences are against this particular fruit, it has some value.
Unfortunately, the tomato is often forced far out of its proper context. The taste can be very overwhelming; imagine putting even a small amount of ketchup on a mac and cheese! More so, the texture only works in very few settings; that’s why many iconic tomato dishes like pizza and salsa use tomato sauce or crushed / chopped tomatoes, rather than the wet rubber composite that defines a whole tomato. It might sound obvious, but Duke Dining has apparently taken a different approach, choosing not to carefully place tomatoes on appropriate meals, but rather to put a few slices on sandwiches of all kinds.
This is a mistake they make frequently, in a variety of places. Obviously, Twinnie’s has introduced tomatoes into many innocent-looking meals, but almost all of CaFe’s sandwich offerings include tomatoes; and lots of pancakes too! Almost every bite of bread to eat at Pitchfork comes with tomato, burger, and salsa fried chicken sandwich moderately more appropriate on tacos. Even the beloved campus restaurant The Loop slaps slices on most of their dishes. That’s not to say that no sandwich should contain tomatoes; Far from it, in fact. Many sandwiches need a tomato, from many classic burgers to club sandwiches. However, the tomato isn’t meant to be an all-purpose garnish, and it’s a big mistake to use it as such.
Consider, for a moment, the elegant lettuce. The texture of lettuce is light and crisp, uplifting the mouthfeel of a sandwich without overpowering it. The flavor is light and watery, yet refreshing, adding one dimension without knocking the others down. Lettuce is the superior version of a tomato, in fact valid as a semi-universal garnish, and yet it is present on fewer sandwiches than the tomato. Duke Dining, there’s no excuse for so many campus sandwiches to default to tomato. It’s time to free the sandwich from its sticky ties and finally allow me to order lunch without telling the person at the counter to remove the tomatoes.
Sam Carpenter is a sophomore at Trinity. His column is generally broadcast every other Friday.