Samin Nosrat, author of the indispensable Salt Fat Acid Heat and host and writer of the subsequent (excellent) four-episode Netflix series of the same name, seems like a person who’d be easy to talk to. That’s perhaps especially true if you’re talking about food.
She seems like that kind of person, dear reader, because she is. And here’s proof: a leisurely chat about hot dogs and sandwiches, conducted in a very noisy room which somehow felt like a relaxed few minutes with an old friend.
The Takeout: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Samin Nosrat: This is so interesting, because I spent I just spent a month writing a column about burgers, and I thought, do I call a burger a sandwich? Do I? And I didn’t. And I don’t think a hot dog is a sandwich, either.
TO: What makes you think that?
SN: Oh no, maybe I changed my mind! I don’t know. I go back and forth. It’s been a conversation on Twitter for a while, the hot dog/sandwich thing. Okay, I take it back. It is a sandwich, because a sandwich is something in bread. I define a sandwich as bread enveloping... something? But then, a burrito’s not a sandwich.
TO: This is where it gets tricky. Is a pita a sandwich?
SN: Ooh, yes, I would say a pita—my mom used to make me pita sandwiches all the time growing up, and that definitely falls under sandwich. Maybe it’s the bun, or roll... is a lobster roll a sandwich?
TO: That’s a really good question.
SN: This is maybe the ultimate stumper. I think it’s the direction. [mimes holding a hot dog] Oh, but then what about a pita? Fuck.
TO: Well, you can still hold a pita that way [like a bread-filling-bread sandwich], even though it’s enclosed on one side.
SN: Oh, this is interesting! I think maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s a bun that’s connected. You could have a fried chicken sandwich on a hamburger bun, and that’s a sandwich. I think it’s the seam.
TO: So if you’re eating a hot dog, and the bun splits so that the seam goes away...
SN: Then it’s a sandwich! [huge laugh] But then the pita’s an interesting problem. I’d rather revise pitas out of sandwiches than bring hot dogs into sandwiches.