When the California government stepped in to try and prevent abalone from going extinct, it also criminalized the food traditions of indigenous people in the region. In this episode from our friends at the podcast Copper and Heat, we look into the history of this now luxury ingredient — a tale that involves San Francisco bohemians, Japanese fishermen, and a Pomo-Paiute woman who has risked jail time and fines in order to keep these food traditions alive.
The Sporkful production team includes Dan Pashman, Emma Morgenstern, Andres O'Hara, and Jared O'Connell.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Playful Rhodes" by Stephen Sullivan
CLIP (HILLARY RENICK): We go out low tide. It might be five in the morning. It might be eight. Or they might be out of the water. They're just stuck on the rock, and then you just pop 'em off.
Dan Pashman: This is Hillary.
Hillary Renick: My name's Hillary Renick, and I'm Pomo from Northern California, from Mendocino specifically.
Dan Pashman: A few years ago, an article in High Country News came out about Hillary called “An Indigenous Way of Life for These California Tribes Breaks State Laws". It says in Mendocino County, "guerilla gatherers’ risk fines and jail time to keep food culture alive."
Hillary Renick: People have chased us, people coming back and forth — like shotguns, and I'm like, is this the end of my story? Nobody's gonna know? What do you do? Right? Like you have a family member and it's like, you're my only hope. This is what I want before I pass on. And then also at the same time, you know, somebody calls the cop, so like you just have to hurry up and all you're trying to do is get food where your family's been getting food for a Millennia. So that's my food PTSD, I guess.
Dan Pashman: This The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters, I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. This week we’re bringing you an episode from our friends at the podcast Copper and Heat. They explore the unspoken rules and traditions of restaurants. They were recently nominated for a James Beard Award for this story about California abalone, and we wanted to share it with you.
Dan Pashman: Here’s Copper and Heat host Katy Osuna.
Katy Osuna: Abalone in recent years has become known as an expensive gourmet ingredient.
CLIP (PERSON 1): This is the abalone course here at two Michelin star Mini ball ...
CLIP (PERSON 2): So this is abalone that's been rested ...
CLIP (PERSON 3): Our abalone course has slowly become ...
CLIP (PERSON 4): A massage to sweet talked..
CLIP (PERSON 5): Abalone en croute ...
CLIP (PERSON 6): This is an emulsi with some of the abalone liver ...
CLIP (PERSON 7): Chicken and abalone? Sauce me up, chef.
Katy Osuna: It's a luxury, usually reserved for fine dining restaurants, but clearly as what we've heard from Hillary, that hasn't always been the case.
Katy Osuna: Well, before abalone started showing up on modern Californian tasting menus, before it was an icon of the California coast, it was eaten by indigenous tribes all up and down the west coast of what is now the United States, as well as different cultures across the Pacific. So our story begins before white folks and other immigrants showed up on the West Coast.
Katy Osuna: In what is now the state of California, it is estimated there were between 300 to 700,000 indigenous folks living in over 500 groups. Many of them were the only ones harvesting abalone for various purposes. But then things changed.
Ann Vileisis: Europeans and Russians came to the west coast of America.
Katy Osuna: This is Ann.
Ann Vileisis: Ann Vileisis, and I'm an author, an environmental historian
Katy Osuna: She literally wrote the book on abalone and she says that the start to the story, before any of the newcomers to the U.S. started fishing or eating abalone, they came for sea otters.
Ann Vileisis: And they were looking to find these beautiful, rich pelts from animals up and down the coast to trade globally. And unfortunately, they decimated these animals. They nearly annihilated them and started to trigger unwittingly this transformation underwater, which resulted in abalone becoming super abundant in a way that they hadn't been before.
Katy Osuna: So when white Americans and other immigrants showed up for the gold rush, abalone were everywhere. And one of the groups of people that came in search of gold were Chinese immigrants.
Ann Vileisis: On the other side of the Pacific, abalone were regarded as a luxury reserved for the most wealthy. And when these Chinese immigrants, probably poorer fishermen, showed up and saw so many abalone, it must have been a totally sweet eureka moment. Maybe even better than finding gold because they realized that they had an extraordinary opportunity to start exporting abalone back to China.
Katy Osuna: And that's what they did, and they pretty much had to export abalone because there wasn't much of a market for them in the U.S. at the time.
Ann Vileisis: Because there was so much racial hostility at the time and racial animosities, Americans at first kind of regarded it as a denigrated food. One reporter described the abalone meat as “a dirty saffron color shot with a sickening red. A more leathery mass of livid looking nastiness. It would be difficult to conceive of or imagine.” And so because the Chinese immigrants were the only ones who knew how to eat abalone, it was kind of a niche that they were able to exploit, and they did it with tremendous skill and knowledge. They were great fishermen and great entrepreneurs and really got this industry going.
Katy Osuna: The Chinese immigrants were the first to turn abalone fishing into an industry in the U.S. and it was incredibly successful. At the height of the abalone export in the 1880s, they were processing about 40 tons of abalone, making it a multimillion dollar industry. However …
Ann Vileisis: Because abalone before the Chinese immigrants arrived had been so super abundant and people had regarded their abundance as sort of the natural state of the coast, their removing of huge numbers of abalone came to be regarded by the newcomers as — I mean, it looked like plunder because they were taking all these animals and the shells were piling up on the beaches. And you know, it was a time when Americans were becoming concerned about conservation because we had already decimated the bison and passenger pigeons and the salmon on the East coast, people were starting to think about conservation. So there was that element, but there was also this tremendous noxious racism of that time. And so in the absence of any fishing regulations, because California was still kind of the frontier, the way people addressed this issue was to basically try to exclude the Chinese. And Congress passed the exclusion acts of the 1880s that eventually barred the Chinese from being able to enter California, and so it really put a kibosh on it and ended that first abalone fishery.
Katy Osuna: So as the 18 hundreds wrapped up and we moved into the early 1900s, two things started happening with abalone. And the first was that tourism started to become more prevalent in California.
Ann Vileisis: As more tourists came to California, they became intrigued by the beautiful shell of the abalone. There was eventually this interest in eating them in chowders, and then eventually there was an interest in hunting them yourself. People didn't know how to prepare abalone, and that became part of the mystique of this food.
Katy Osuna: As tourism in California grew, so did the iconic image of the abalone.
Ann Vileisis: A group of writers and poets known as the Carmel Bohemians, including the most famous one, was Jack London, but also Mary Austin, George Sterling, they moved from San Francisco and went to Carmel. And gathering abalone became not only kind of a bohemian way to find and gather food, but also it was literally an inspiration for them to go diving into the ocean and get this animal that you could just pull out of its shell and pound on the beach and eat it there together with friends.
Katy Osuna: So that was the first thing that was happening at the turn of the century. Abalone was becoming a niche food item that was intriguing to white Americans, in particular tourists. But domestic demand for the shellfish was still not that prevalent. So once the Chinese export fishery was shut down …
Ann Vileisis: Japanese fishermen showed up around Monterey in kind of like the Chinese fishermen about 40 years before noticed the abundance of abalone. And they too had this tremendous culture of appreciating abalone. Some Japanese marine biologists and entrepreneurs showed up in California and started working on developing an abalone export industry as well. Kind of an echo of what had happened with the Chinese, only they were bringing new technology. They started using hard hat dive suits and taking abalone from deeper waters. So they were the first ones who pioneered that technology in California. And not surprisingly, they too would come up against tremendous racial animosity. In 1913, there were conversations about: How do we do better fishing regulations? How do we conserve abalone? But the solution that was picked by the legislature was just to ban abalone export and the idea was to just exclude Japanese fishermen from being able to do their work.
Katy Osuna: These two things were happening. The rise of abalone as an iconic food popular amongst tourists and bohemians, and then the shutdown of the Japanese abalone export. So all of a sudden there were all of these abalone being fished and nowhere to sell them. In comes what some might call the first California celebrity chef.
Ann Vileisis: His name was Ernest Dolter. He had a restaurant in Monterey, and because he was close to where the Japanese fishermen were gathering and drying abalone, he became very acquainted with what they were doing and found it fascinating that Americans didn't eat this food that was so prized by the Japanese. And he started experimenting in his restaurant, Cafe Ernest. And he's a German fellow, so he tried recipes that were similar to the German wiener schnitzel. He would pound the abalone and dredge it in egg and breadcrumbs and then fry it in butter. And he ended up coming up with this recipe for abalone filets that was delicious. And he is a window again to this tremendous racism at the time. He started calling himself the discoverer of abalone as a white man's delicacy. Because he realized, gosh, if I can convey this food, as you know, food for connoisseurs of excellent seafood, that's how we're gonna make the market. So he called himself the abalone king, and he really set about making abalone his specialty and a prized food.
Katy Osuna: And it worked.
CLIP (NARRATOR): The fair had everything ...
Ann Vileisis: It so happened that right after the abalone fishery was shut down in California, he had to find a domestic market. The world's fair of that time called the Pan Pacific Exposition was happening in San Francisco.
CLIP (NARRATOR): It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to San Francisco.
Ann Vileisis: And so he and some Japanese fishermen, who were working with another American entrepreneur, decided to try to introduce abalone to the larger world through this exposition. They brought up abalone. They had kind of a seafood emporium section where they were serving seafood, and in particular they called abalone the aristocrat univalve and tried to, you know, make it something super special and a super epicurean type of food. And millions of people came through and got a chance to sample the abalone during that exposition.
CLIP (ROY HATTORI): And the bottom was so beautiful, kelp growing and wherever there was rocks, there was all kinds of marine growth. I was an entirely different world and I never regretted once the fact that I had to work and make a living at that.
Katy Osuna: You're hearing a 2011 interview with Roy Hattori.
CLIP (ROY HATTORI): I was born in Monterey, about a half a block from the entrance to the aquarium now, but that was in March the 7th, 1919.
Katy Osuna: He was a Japanese American abalone diver who first went underwater in 1937.
CLIP (ROY HATTORI): Most of the residents in Monterey were fishing families and came almost from the same pre fracture. So they made a very close knit community. At that time, in 1937, the boats were all equipped with crews of four to five and had one diver per boat. I think there were about 12 boats operating out of Monterey. The boats were generally coming in with loads of up to 200 dozen abalone per one week's work.
Katy Osuna: Roy passed away in 2011, so this interview was one of the very last recordings we have of his experiences, and even at that time, he was one of the few Japanese American divers still alive to share stories from the early to mid-1900s which turned out to be a pretty pivotal time for abalone in California because the domestic market was continuing to grow while technology was helping make harvest more efficient. And though Japanese and Japanese American fishers dominated the abalone market, specifically in Monterey, it was becoming increasingly white. And then the U.S. government dealt another blow to the abalone industry.
CLIP (ROY HATTORI): I just love the water and I spent all of my life right here, right next to the ocean, and I can't imagine ever being any distance from it, except when we had a forced evacuation and were put into government built concentration camps.
Katy Osuna: Roy and his family, along with other people of Japanese descent, were forced into internment camps at the start of World War II. As Anne writes in her book, "Roy explained he lost his boat, his livelihood, his dignity, and his belief that America stood by its words of freedom for all. When Roy finally returned to diving in Monterey, he returned to a very different landscape than he left. So much so that he didn't actually go back to the abalone industry."
Ann Vileisis: There were these two parts of how we thought of abalone, and one said they were a commodity that could be exported initially and then could be sold in this economy that supplied cities. And on the other hand, was this vision of abalone as an icon, the two fed into each other, you know, kind of the mystique of the abalone that derived from that recreational experience totally fueled the demand in the restaurant. It just was much easier to be able to go into a restaurant and eat abalone.
Katy Osuna: The years during World War II had changed the abalone industry. Japanese fishers came back to more competition and less abalone. In that time, recreational and sports fishing also took off as well as the popularity of abalone dishes and restaurants up and down the coast. There was increased tension between the sports fishers and the commercial fishers as the stock of abalone dwindled, and there was a whole lot of finger pointing at each other. By 1957, there were 10 times as many commercial divers as there were in the thirties, and harvest was an all-time high with more than 5 million pounds harvested. But things were changing.
Ann Vileisis: Those sea otters that were initially part of the ecosystem made or rebound, and they started eating abalone too. And then we started to have some ecological stressors hit, more intense El Ninos and disease. All these things together, you know, like it's one thing to fish for an animal, but to overfish and then have all these stressors on an animal, it makes it — they just basically couldn't keep up with demand.
Katy Osuna: Though divers were noticing less abalone and harvest dipped a little bit after the 1957 peak, abalone harvest numbers stayed relatively stable throughout the '60s. But then because of both natural and human-made forces, the population hit a sharp decline. And as the harvest was less, the prices started to go up.
Ann Vileisis: As abalone get rarer and rarer, they get more and more expensive. A black market opens up.
Katy Osuna: And the demand was largely still coming from individuals and restaurants up and down the coast of California.
Ann Vileisis: And so you have people that are poaching, abalone taking more than is allowed. And so people — I mean, it was like going out and just getting free money, you know? And unfortunately, it became almost impossible to figure out a solution.
Dan Pashman: After the break, we hear what happens when indigenous communities are left out of conversations about their own food and we visit a modern abalone farm. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. You know, a couple weeks ago, we just a went a little bit out there for our show, we asked ChatGPT to write an episode of The Sporkful. And I'd say we got with mixed results:
CLIP (DAN PASHMAN): So, Sal, what makes Joe's Pizza so special?
CLIP (BETTINA MAKALINTAL): Well, I think it's a combination of things. We use the freshest ingredients. We make our dough fresh every day and we cook our pies in a coal fire oven. But most importantly, we treat every customer like family.
CLIP (DAN PASHMAN): Wow, that's such a good cliche. [LAUGHS]
CLIP (BETTINA MAKALINTAL): I mean, yes, all the things that you say appear like you have a good pizza spot.
CLIP (DAN PASHMAN): Right, right.
Dan Pashman: I also talk with Bettina Makalintal, a senior reporter at Eater, about what ChatGPT’s attempt at a “stinky immigrant lunchbox memoir” tells us about food writing today. That one’s up now, check it out.
Dan Pashman: Okay, back to California abalone.
Hillary Renick: And because of the Gold Rush, Congress did not ratify our treaties.
Katy Osuna: Here's Hillary again, the member of the Pomo tribe you heard at the beginning of the episode.
Hillary Renick: So we do not have an official tribal take in California. We're not allowed to gather anymore because California created a no take zone which basically criminalized indigenous subsistence. I'm not sure if that was an inadvertent thing.
Ann Vileisis: As I studied the history of abalone, indigenous people were really not part of the conversation at all. They were kind of put into the category with people who were recreationally fishing, but the way they interact with abalone is different than recreation. When the Chinese showed up and there were so many abalone on the west coast, you know, at that point, indigenous Californians had been brutally removed and their culture had been disrupted.
Hillary Renick: In my tribe, 90% of our people between like 1840 and 1880 were just gone. Like whole families just gone, massacred. And I know some people say, oh, well, you know, smallpox, so sad. I'm like, no, it wasn't smallpox. This was intentional, like intentional breakdown of our Native American families. We were hunted to death and there was bounties put on us. So when I gather, it's nowhere near the numbers that have historically gathered.
Katy Osuna: In the 1880s, commissioners were sent to California to negotiate treaties with tribes. These treaties were submitted to Congress by President Fillmore, but then blocked in the Senate. Unbeknownst to the tribes, this meant that the tribal people were not federally recognized, and therefore left very vulnerable to the brutality of white settlers. It also meant that they lost a lot of bargaining chips or negotiating power when it came to their traditional subsistence, like harvesting abalone. So from the very beginning of the settlement of California, tribes have been intentionally excluded and that extends to the regulation of abalone.
Ann Vileisis: Only very recently, like in 2015, did the state of California really start to formally bring tribes into conversations about management of abalone for fishing. So tribes are now invited to participate in a way they never were before. But it's, of course tragic because in some ways it's — I mean, it's not — I hope it's not too late.
Katy Osuna: When legislators throughout the 1900s were intentionally excluding tribes or lumping them in with recreational fishers, they were missing some really essential knowledge of abalone that members of California tribes, like Hillary and her family, have been keeping alive for generations.
Hillary Renick: So if you're looking at a place and you're gonna stay there like generations, thousands of years, you're gonna look at the landscape differently. We still go to the same spots we've went to for generations. I go where my grandpa showed me as a little precocious child and he would tell me all these stories. I just think it's so beautiful that I could go and sit on a rock that my great-great-grandparents did and I could eat their same food and really thank them for this life and this knowledge.
Katy Osuna: So for a whole century, the late 1800s to the late 1900s, all of these decisions were being made in regards to the abalone population. And frankly, the decisions were being made from a very narrow perspective, and ultimately it wasn't enough.
Ann Vileisis: So that, you know, gets us to the late ‘90s.There's not enough abalone for commercial fishery and the fisheries shut down. And then 20 years later, in 2017, because of more environmental stressors, there's not enough abalone for a recreational fishery, and that fishery gets shut down too.
Katy Osuna: That brings us back to the top of the episode and Hillary getting the cops call on her while gathering traditional foods.
Hillary Renick: People have chased us, people coming back and forth like shotguns. And I'm like, is this the end of my story? In California, you know, a lot of folks love their view shed. Right? It's a famous California view shed. What does that mean? Many times it means they don't wanna see native people. [LAUGHS] Now, nice homes are built [LAUGHS] and they don't wanna see the Indians on the beach to try and fish.
Katy Osuna: Since the tribal treaties weren't ratified by Congress and there isn't a separate license for tribal people to gather, it's caused some tension between tribal gatherers and abalone recreational or sports fishers.
Hillary Renick: The tribal folks, for the most part have been left out, but I also don't think we should have ever been included, if at all in in recreational. I think there should be a separate either tribal ceremonial take or an exemption or an exclusion. And then how that would look? Because quite honestly, it is so hostile. A lot of the recreational fishers are in conflict with the tribal fishers. They don't understand, right? Because recreational fishers being so mad, you know, why do you guys get to go out there? What are you doing? You know, I'm a tax paying citizen. Who are you? [LAUGHS]
Doug Bush: So this is our farm. It's only about eight acres. We have sea water intakes that are about 1600 feet offshore. A pipeline that lays on the sea floor goes to a pump, which is right on the shore, and we pump from about 40 feet deep up to these two head tanks, which we're standing in front of now, and, you can hear the water dumping into the head tanks here.
Katy Osuna: This is Doug.
Doug Bush: My name's Doug. I'm the general manager and a partner of the Cultured Abalone farm located on the coast between Santa Barbara and Point Conception.
Katy Osuna: Cultured Abalone is one of only three abalone farms left in California and they're the largest.
Doug: My wife likes to joke that I should be marketing myself more aggressively as the number one abalone farmer in the U.S.A. [LAUGHS]
Katy Osuna: It hasn't always been that way. There used to be a whole lot more.
Doug: Late eighties, early nineties — hmm, I think more actively a general acknowledgement that, uh-oh, we may have not managed this correctly. So abalone starts to thin out and there's a general sort of acceptance that, Hmm, maybe abalone farming would be a way to address this shortfall between abalone supply and the hard decisions we need to make as resource managers. And so abalone farming was for a time, pretty, pretty widely encouraged by the coastal managers in California. There was at one point something like 30 permitted abalone production facilities on the California coast.
Katy Osuna: Abalone farms in California have had a pretty wild trajectory. There were about 30 in the early '90s, but only 14 made it to '98 and eight in 2004 and then only four in 2017.
Doug: We’re down to just a couple of us now and they haven't issued a new permit in like over 30 years.
Katy Osuna: The slow nature of abalone makes it an expensive endeavor, so that is one thing that could make it tricky for farms to stick around. However, Doug also points to the difficulty of getting through the permitting process in the state of California, but there's definitely not a lack of demand for abalone.
Doug: There’s enough demand for sure. You know, we could probably support more farms, you know, honestly. We could have more of us, and I would welcome it. You know, I have no vested interest in trying to keep the door closed for other.
Katy Osuna: Where is their product going? Who's buying it?
Doug: Most of our product goes either to — direct to a restaurant or to a wholesaler that's going direct to a restaurant. This abalone is not super frequently prepared at home. We sell a bit of it now, but I wouldn't say it's very much. I'd say it's 5% of our sales. Most of our product goes into the Chinese and Korean live seafood market. Most of our product is sold in Metropolitan L.A. and greater L.A. and, and San Francisco and South San Francisco.
Katy Osuna: And the price?
Doug: Retail costs on those will range anywhere from about $6 to, you know, maybe $10 per piece at maybe your more, I'll just go ahead and say bougie-er little market, you know that — so, but they're typically sold whole live in the shell. But yeah, it's going to — it's always gonna carry a bit of a cost because of the time it takes to get to market and the labor and the electricity and the, the work that's invested in getting them.
Katy Osuna: They primarily sell these little a hundred gram abalone, which are just about three or four inches in size. But they do save a few big guys, more like what used to be harvested wild on the California coast, and they're like seven or eight inches.
Doug: It's called the Balthazar, and we up charge for those.
Katy Osuna: A whopping $250.
Doug: Because they don't exist in the marketplace and people are are stoked about 'em. They — we're sold out actually right now until, until probably about Christmas.
Katy Osuna: In a funny twist though, Cultured Abalone used to export their abalone, they stopped doing it years ago.
Doug: We haven't sold to Japan since 2008.
Katy Osuna: California had repealed the export ban back in 1971 as environmental conditions were causing abalone to be smaller and tougher. It was thought that in order to keep the industry going, they could dry the tougher abalones and export them to China, where the market for dried abalone was strong. But now the market is much more competitive overseas.
Doug: And we can sell it all domestically.
Katy Osuna: The domestic market for abalone is much less competitive and demand is still there. Even though abalone isn't available in every restaurant in the coast or open to recreational divers, it's still a highly valued part of the California dining culture. And the market for abalone is strong. But since it's no longer available wild, abalone’s value as an ingredient has changed.
Doug: The leap to fine dining, you know, is probably a, a byproduct of the iconic nature of its history as something that has been foraged of scarcity and the fact that it's not the most straightforward thing in the world in terms of technique and prep, you know that it has its idiosyncrasies that you need to abide in order to come up with a, you know, well-executed end product. You know, it's not lost on me that my roots of interest in aquaculture were really driven by serving communities where there was a protein deficit. And being a teacher and seeing kids that came from food insecure families — and I've always wanted to get back to that. And I love my abalone, and I think I'm incredibly lucky to occupy this little page in the history of the way that humans use abalone. But it's not — I don't think it's likely to be people's food again in California. it's always gonna be a nostalgia buy for the people that can afford it.
Ann Vileisis: I worry about fetishizing the food too much. I mean, I think it's wonderful. I love local foods that connect us to place. I love that part of our culture. And yet, if we fetishize particular foods too much, we put so much stress on them. And so how do we find that balance?
Katy Osuna: The story of a in California isn't unique. From being seen as a denigrated food associated with the people of color to an iconic fetishized food for affluent white folks. Other ingredients like corn, salmon, or quinoa have a pretty similar story, and restaurants play a big role in the way certain ingredients become trendy. You don't have to look much further than the trend of foraging.
Hillary Renick: When I grew up, people used to make fun of us for eating traditional foods. Even in our basket weavers, I've seen a little bit of that where, you know, you take time out to teach a few people something and they think it's cool. So then they posted on their page as if they did all that, but they were just hanging out for 5, 10 minutes. Right? What is the difference between actually truly living that life versus looking like you live that life, which could be trendy?
Hillary Renick: So I eat abalone primarily now, like more ceremonial. So when we have funerals, we honor them with a feast of the landscape. We have abalone, we have salmon, we have deer, we have seaweed, we have acorn mush. We have all the berries and the roots and the chutes that are all around us completing that circle of that life and respecting that life. After we eat the abalone, we put the shells on our graves, so a lot of our tribal graveyards have abalone shells on them. They help complete that journey. I still gather our traditional foods. Until I have my elders tell me not to, right, basically. They always tell me they're so proud. They're so proud. There's a lot of grandchildren. There's a lot of great-grandchildren. There's hardly anybody still gathering. And communing at our same places, living in our same places that we have for a millennia — how important that is to keep that spirit alive in all of those places? And to respect, cause we just don't take too, like we always say a prayer or we'll leave a song, when you sing to your food and what that does to you in your own healing. When you start to learn everything that you do, that you put inside of you, your food, your water, and everything, and how it affects you, your body, mind, and soul like, and just how you become a whole human and how important it is, food is completely healing.
Dan Pashman: That was an episode of the podcast Copper and Heat podcast, hosted by Katy Osuna. You can find out more about their podcast at copperandheat.com, and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.
Dan Pashman: Next week on the show, I’m talking with comedian, podcaster, and author Jamie Loftus about her new book, Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs. Jamie went on a cross-country road trip in search of the best hot dogs, and she'll shares her findings with me. Plus, all of her opinions about bun infrastructure and the all-important, hot dog snap.