Is a hot dog a sandwich? The jury’s still out on this question, which has somehow managed to animate vigorous semantic debates. Last Friday, during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Media Days weekend, University of Miami football coach Mark Richt was asked this question by someone in the audience during a press conference.
He evaded it entirely—or, really, answered it in the most circuitous way possible. Richt whipped out a notepad and pen and explained what a sandwich was, diagramming, meticulously and with great enthusiasm, the best way to eat it.
Here it is, folks: The deceptively simple act of consuming a sandwich, assigned a calculus of rigor and sophistication. Richt's is a five-step rule, repeated twice, resulting in 10 total steps.
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Imagine the sandwich as a map, Richt tells us. Cut the sandwich diagonally, with the wider end of the sandwich facing you. Bites 1 and 2 correspond to the two corners on the side closest to you. Bite 3 is right n the middle in between the two (this constitutes the sandwich’s soul—its “filet,” as Richt says). Bites 4 and 5 are split between the remaining slab—whatever your mouth can manage to chew in two bites. You then repeat the process on the other half of the sandwich.
This applies to square sandwiches, but that’s pretty much the only prerequisite for following Richt’s rules. I tried it last night, and, surprise, it worked just fine. A slapdash peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, its pleasures reduced to 10 algebraic bites.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.