Friday, January 02, 2015

Indiana does Platonic Sandwich Dialogues: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is pizza? Are tacos?

Last year in June, six weeks after Bank Street Brewhouse's kitchen was shuttered, we received a citation from the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission (ATC) for not meeting the minimum food requirement as defined by 905 IAC 1-20-1. Actually, the food was there, in the freezer, but our employee at the time screwed up, and boom: The bottom line got $250 lighter.

This was particularly annoying for two reasons.

First, from the moment the kitchen change at BSB was announced, I was well aware of the food requirement. The law is 13 years older than me, and this isn't my first rodeo. Second, I'd spoken with the ATC about it to be sure we had the necessary materials to comply with the rule: Frozen weenies, buns, cans of soup, instant coffee, powdered milk and soft drinks enough to serve 25 persons.

Here's the law in its Truman era glory, as originally discussed in a post entitled "Law abiding by weenie never was this viral."

Rule 20. Food Requirements
905 IAC 1-20-1 Minimum menu requirements
Authority: IC 7.1-2-3-7; IC 7.1-3-24-1
Affected: IC 7.1-3-20-9

Sec. 1. Under the qualification requiring that a retail permittee to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink for consumption on the premises must be the proprietor of a restaurant located, and being operated, on the premises described in the application of the permittee; and under the definition of a "restaurant" as "any establishment provided with special space and accommodations where, in consideration of payment, food without lodging is habitually furnished to travelers,"–and "wherein at least twenty-five (25) persons may be served at one time;" the Commission will, hereafter, require that the retail permittee be prepared to serve a food menu to consist of not less than the following:

Hot soups.
Hot sandwiches.
Coffee and milk.
Soft drinks.

Hereafter, retail permittees will be equipped and prepared to serve the foregoing foods or more in a sanitary manner as required by law.

(Alcohol and Tobacco Commission; Reg 36; filed Jun 27, 1947, 3:00 pm: Rules and Regs. 1948, p. 58; readopted filed Oct 4, 2001, 3:15 p.m.: 25 IR 941; readopted filed Sep 18, 2007, 3:42 p.m.: 20071010-IR-905070191RFA; readopted filed Oct 29, 2013, 3:39 p.m.: 20131127-IR-905130360RFA)

This story also was revisited recently in "More about frozen weenies and powdered milk."

Throughout this saga, it may have occurred to more than one reader to ask a simple question.

Is a hot dog really a sandwich? 

Note that our district branch of the ATC overtly accepts the use of hot dogs as sandwiches, so long as they're served warm -- remember, "sandwiches" must be heated, so granny's world-class fridge-aged chicken salad is ineligible ... unless, of course it is eligible, because after all, our district ATC has determined that pizza qualifies as an exception to the rule.

Is gazpacho an exception to the "hot soup" provision? I sense little eagerness to find out. Now that NABC has partnered with Taco Punk for tacos on Friday and Saturday nights at Bank Street Brewhouse, need we ask the next logical question?

Are tacos sandwiches?

If so, then we still must cover the "off" hours when Gabe's not in the kitchen, and so the reign of freezer-cured weenies has not come to an end.

As a disclaimer, understand that here, as always, I have no beef with the Indiana ATC, whose police officers are charged with the task of enforcing laws written by variously informed politicians. The ATC is good people, and the ATC itself probably finds the food requirement a distraction, considering the agency's perennial understaffing and many important items of daily business.

However, until now, probably few of us grasped the philosophical dimensions of the sandwich identity crisis within this specific mechanism of Indiana alcoholic beverage laws. Thanks to JR for pointing it out to me.

Is This a Sandwich? Teaching the Platonic Dialogues through sandwiches, by Dr. M. Ritchey, PhD (Medium)

... I decided to do an exercise in my classroom that would attempt to engage my students more deeply with the socratic method and perhaps help them realize its usefulness in their own lived realities. For some reason, reading about Socrates asking Euthyphro if what is pious is pious because it is loved by the Gods or whether the Gods love that which is pious was not really making much of a dent in my students’ understanding of the world, so instead I had them try to prove that they knew what a sandwich was. I put them in pairs and instructed them to create as clear and literal a definition as they could—one that encompassed all things they knew to be sandwiches, while providing criteria for excluding all those things that were obviously not sandwiches. Furthermore, anything they were going to submit as examples of a “sandwich” also had to pass the thought experiment of imagining ordering “a sandwich” in a restaurant and being brought that thing—because after all, this is an exercise about common knowledge. We all “know” what a sandwich is. Their definition had to somehow account for this shared mental understanding. So “a bowling ball between two pieces of lettuce” would not count, for example.

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