Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

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Please Explain, where Leonard Lopate and a guest get to the bottom of one complex issue. History, science, politics, pop culture or anything that needs some explanation!More from Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show) »

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The History of Restaurants Revealed

Centuries before the restaurant became a dining destination, a "restaurant" was actually a medicinal broth that contained ingredients like capon, gold ducats, rubies and other precious gems. So how did restaurants become what they are today? When did eating become an enjoyable, leisurely activity? Rebecca Spang, author of The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture, joins us for today's Please Explain all about the history of restaurants! Dr. Spang is a Professor of History, Director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program and Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. Do you have questions about restaurant history? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

How to Define 'Creepiness'

Reports of sinister clowns in the news have us thinking about creepiness. Why are some things simply scary, and other things genuinely creepy? On today's Please Explain, David Livingstone Smith, Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England, offers some insight in an essay for Aeon called, "A theory of creepiness." He tells us how scientists and researchers have attempted to measure and classify creepiness - from robots that are designed to look like humans (but something isn't quite right), to being put off by physical traits like "unkempt hair, bulging eyes, [and] abnormally long fingers." David Livingstone Smith is the author of seven books, most recently, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others.

Bees, Wasps, Ants, Scorpions... Whose Stings Hurt the Most?

Is it worse to be stung by a scorpion or a bee? Ask Justin O. Schmidt, a biologist at Southwestern Biological Institute, who's also affiliated with the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona and the author of The Sting of the Wild. Dr. Schmidt has let more than 83 different species of stinging insects from all over the world attack him... all in the name of science! Schmidt is the inventor of the eponymous "Schmidt Sting Pain Index," which ranks the relative pain caused by insect stings on various parts of the body. On this week's Please Explain, he'll explain why insects sting in the first place, and what happens to them (and us) when they do it. Have questions about insect stings? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This

Dreams are a natural part of life, and throughout human history, people have tried to interpret their dreams. But dreaming, in many ways, still remains mysterious. On this week's Please Explain, we'll find out what happens in our brains while we dream, what causes nightmares and lucid dreaming, and why some of us talk and walk in our sleep. We'll also learn about the many ways psychologists interpret dreams. Joining us is Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He's the author of several books, most recently, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More and Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, Senior Editor of the APA journal Dreaming and the author of Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion. Have questions about dreaming? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Events: Kelly Bulkeley will be part of a panel at the New York Academy of Sciences on December 7th, talking about dreams and new research on the unconscious. He'll be giving a talk at the National Arts Club on January 30th about the film "Pan's Labyrinth" and lucid dreaming in Guillermo del Toro's childhood.

The Secret Life of Ballerinas

The best ballerinas make it look effortless, gracefully dancing and leaping across the stage in beautiful costumes. But what do ballet dancers really go through, given the physical demands, in addition to the hours of practice, preparation and dedication? On today's Please Explain, we're looking at the secret life of ballerinas with Ashley Bouder, principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, and Tiekka Tellier, who spent 16 years as a professional ballerina and founded Everyday Ballet. Have questions about ballet? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Event: The New York City Ballet Fall Gala opens NYCB's 2016-17 season on Tuesday, September 20. Ashley Bouder will give her first performance since giving birth to her daughter, Violet, on Friday, September 23 in Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes. For ticket's and performance information, visit the NYCB website.

Is Cursive Obsolete? The Writing May be on the Wall

Handwriting has helped shape culture ever since the ancient Sumerians created an alphabet on clay tablets. But are digital communication and the internet threatening to make handwriting obsolete? Anne Trubek , author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, joins us for this week's Please Explain all about handwriting! Do you have questions about handwriting? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

We've Got the Scoop on Ice Cream!

The summer is not over yet, and to prove it, we're talking all about ice cream! We'll look into the history of the beloved frozen treat, as well as the many variations on flavor, sweetness and texture that have developed over the years. We'll also find out how to make ice cream (with and without dairy) and the science behind the perfect scoop from Laura O'Neill, Co-Founder Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, based in Greenpoint, and Ben Van Leeuwen, Co-Founder. They're the co-authors of the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream cookbook. Do you have questions about ice cream? Write in the comments section below, write to us on Twitter or Facebook, or call us at 212-433-9692. Recipes Roasted Banana Ice Cream (Reprinted with permission from Van Leeuwen's Artisan Ice Cream, published by Ecco Books, 2015.) Believe it or not, even people who say they don't like bananas love this ice cream—it tastes just like banana bread pudding. We roast the bananas with dark brown sugar and butter until they are golden and caramelized, and then we fold them into our ice cream base. The ice cream that comes out is elegant and luscious, rich with caramelized bananas, and is one of our favorite winter flavors to make. The roasting of the bananas gives the ice cream such a creamy, almost burnt-caramel flavor; we can't think of a better way to round out a Christmas dinner. MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART SPECIAL EQUIPMENT Immersion blender FOR THE ROASTED BANANAS 4 medium bananas, preferably somewhat speckled but not brown, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter 2 tablespoons (14 grams) dark brown sugar Pinch of kosher salt FOR THE ICE CREAM BASE 2 cups heavy cream 1/2 cup whole milk 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt 6 large egg yolks 1. To make the roasted bananas, preheat the oven to 400˚F; position the rack in the middle. Line a shallow baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, toss the bananas, butter, sugar, and salt. Spread the ingredients on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until caramelized. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. 3. To make the roasted banana ice cream, pour the cream and milk into a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk in 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar and the salt and stir until they have dissolved. Warm the mixture until you see steam rising from the top. 4. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set another bowl over it. Set aside. 5. In a medium bowl, with a kitchen towel underneath it to prevent slipping, whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 1⁄4 cup (50 grams) sugar until uniform. While whisking, add a splash of the hot dairy mixture to the yolks. Continue to add the dairy mixture, whisking it in bit by bit, until you've added about half. Add the yolk mixture to the remaining dairy mixture in the double boiler. Set the heat under the double boiler to medium and cook the custard, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and reducing the heat to medium-low as necessary, until steam begins to rise from the surface and the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Hold the spoon horizontally and run your finger through the custard. If the trail left by your finger stays separated, the custard is ready to be cooled. 6. Strain the custard into the bowl sitting over the prepared ice bath and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the custard has cooled. Transfer the custard to a quart-size container and add the roasted bananas. Using an immersion blender, buzz the custard until emulsified. Cover the custard and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Satisfying Our Sweet Tooth

From white sugar and brown sugar, to raw sugar and sugar cane... Not to mention agave, simple syrup, and molasses, there's an abundance of options when it comes to choosing an agent that's going to make your desserts and drinks pop. But which are the best for what purpose... and which are the healthiest? Joining us to talk about all things sweet is Shauna Sever, author of three cookbooks, including Real Sweet:More Than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Made with Natural Sugars. We'll also find out how sugar and sweeteners affect our health with Rebecca Blake, a nutritionist, registered dietitian, and Administrative Director for Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Dim Sum: Dumplings & Buns that Make the Perfect Bite

From the cavernous Chinatown restaurants where carts of dumplings are wheeled around, waiting to be pointed to and picked up like an eager single teenager at the prom, to foie gras, flank steak and braised duck chins, dim sum is a changing force in Chinese cuisine in this country. Dim sum takes years to master, seconds to eat, and contains within its tapioca wrapper the history of waves of Cantonese immigration. Ed Schoenfeld, restaurateur, Chinese food aficionado and owner-operator of Red Farm, a Zagat top rated Chinese restaurant in New York, and a New York Times critics-pick.

Our Indispensable Guide to Buying Eggs!

Now that you're equipped with a variety of new egg recipes, today's Please Explain will answer all of your egg-buying questions! Omega-3, Free Range, Cage Free, Organic... What do these labels mean? Why do eggs come in different colors? Why don't you have to put farmers market eggs in the fridge? Here to answer all these questions and more is Cathy Erway, Serious Eats contributor and author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. She also blogs at Not Eating Out In New York and has a podcast called Eat Your Words on Heritage Radio. She wrote this article about egg labeling. We'll also be joined by Mary Carpenter, owner and operator of Violet Hill Farm in West Winfield, NY. She keeps poultry and supplies a wide variety of eggs to the Union Square and McCaren Park greenmarkets. Matt Kaplan, who works at the Violet Hill greenmarket stalls, will stop by our studio and bring some eggs for show and tell!

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