November 21, 2006
Lord Sandwich Did Not Eat Mexican Food, Except Maybe Chocolate
The question whether a burrito is a "sandwich" for purposes of a restaurant lease has been getting a lot of play among contracts profs. Based on classroom anecdotes, some of our students agree with the court's conclusion that a burrito, which involves one tortilla instead of two slices of bread, can't be a sandwich. Some of them, however, dispute the court's remark in dicta that a quesadilla is also not a sandwich, even though it is usually made by layering cheese or other fillings between two tortillas -- the functional equivalent of a grilled-cheese sandwich. And a taco is much like the kind of half-sandwiches that lots of moms make for kids by folding a single slice of Wonder Bread around the PB&J filling. Still others argue that the concept of two slices of leavened bread is inherently Eurocentric, and that many cultures have the equivalent of the sandwich without actually slicing loaves of bread. Spring rolls, for example. Or maybe samosas.
In any event, Mike Madison (Pitt) has done us all a favor by collecting the documents in the case, including the expert witness affidavits ("a sandwich is rarely served with beans or rice between the slices," avows an editor of Saveur magazine with an apparent straight face, while a writer for Gourmet notes that "nobody would say that they are going to . . . the sandwich shop to get a burrito") in this helpful post.
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