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Doc Willoughby on country-style pork ribs

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What is a country-style rib and why does Doc Willoughby love this underappreciated cut? He and Francis Lam disucss.

Try Doc's recipe for Soy-Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs.

Francis Lam: You are super into country-style pork ribs.

Doc Willoughby: I am. I think they are an underappreciated cut that is perfect for this time of year when we're making stews and braises, and in addition, it is usually the cheapest cut of pork in the supermarket meat counter, so it's got a lot going for it and people don't know it.

FL: I have to admit, I'm a little confused because every time I've seen country-style pork ribs, there doesn't seem to be a rib involved, and I'm like, that's how you do it in the country—there are no ribs in our ribs. That's how you do it out here?

DW: Well, this is a cut of pork with a little of an identity crisis because it isn't really a rib, it's just called a rib, and the reason for that is it's basically a made-up cut. What it really is is a blade chop, which is a chop that comes from the area between the loin and the shoulder. But the blade chop was always very difficult to sell because it's a little bit fatty and gnarly compared to loin chops, so butchers had a lot of trouble selling it. They generally ground it up for sausage, or if they were a little sneaky, they'd put it under a bunch of loin chops in a wrapped package of chops.

FL: And so, the loin chops are the classic, beautiful pork chop we typically think of…

DW: They're from the center, they're finely grained, not much fat, very pretty and even. Country-style, or the blade chops, are a little fatty, a little gnarly, not so regular—they're hard to sell.

Back in the '60s or '70s, I'm not quite sure when, a butcher in Chicago thought, well, ribs are popular, so what if I take these blade chops and butterfly them, lay them open, cut through the rib, and call them "ribs"? If you do that and then you turn them on the bone side, you've got what looks like a nice fat giant rib, which it actually isn't, but it's very attractive when you arrange it that way. He started selling them and they became super popular. So, country-style ribs were born, and now you can get them all over the country. It's a little confusing because there are a couple of things people also call country-style ribs, and just to make it simple, they tend to cut a little further down into the shoulder, so there's more fat and a little more gnarl. But, whichever one of these you have, they have enough fat and gnarl that they're perfect for braising and stewing, and they have light and dark meat on them. You get different textures and different flavors, and they're super easy to cut up.

If you're going to make a pork stew, you shouldn't buy what's labeled pork stew meat, because that's just little bits and pieces from all over the animal that they had leftover. What you usually do is buy a pork butt and butcher that, but that's a pain. If you buy the country-style ribs, they're these small, elongated pieces of meat, and you cut them into cubes and you're done, ready to go. They're ideal for that, and great for braising because they brown easily, fit into a pot very easily, and they love long, slow cooking. And, as I said, they're the cheapest pork you can buy. I love them. You have to pay a little attention to what you're getting. I was looking for them in a supermarket and I finally found them, but they were labeled blade end ribs for barbecue, country. I am not sure where that nomenclature came from, but they were good.

Butchery is really complicated, and it's different in different countries. It's different in different parts of the country, and the same cut has different names in different parts of the country. You have to educate yourself and know what you're looking for.

And then, there are also the cuts that are invented, like country-style ribs, or the tri-tip. The tri-tip is a muscle on the sirloin that was always cut as part of the sirloin until back in the '50s when a butcher in Oakland, California started cutting it out as a roast, and it became well-known as a roast in California, but not until recently on the East Coast.

It's an evolving art. The more you know about how people are butchering things and why they're naming different things, the better shopper you are, and the better food you have.

FL: Right on. Well, thanks for this little lesson in meat cutting and meat marketing.

Vegetable broth concentrate from America's Test Kitchen

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Elle Simone of America's Test Kitchen talks with Joe Yonan about the secret of vegetable broth concentrate- a space saving solution for having homemade vegetable broth at the ready. Try ATK's recipe for Vegatable Broth Base to have this handy staple ready in your home.

Joe Yonan: I love making homemade vegetable broth, partly because the store-bought stuff is truly awful. I have not found any that I like. Every couple of weeks I make it from trimmings of things that I'm cooking. But I still have to pour it into ice cube trays and put it in Ziploc bags, which takes up all this space in the freezer. You guys have figured out a much better way which is to make a concentrate.

Elle Simone: Yes, we have. But first, I would have to agree with you that store-bought broths are horrible; I just wouldn't recommend it. We have created a concentrate which, in your case, would be helpful because it takes up less space.  You don't have to freeze it in ice trays. The concentrate is made of some key vegetable ingredients and salt, which keeps it from freezing. You can scoop it out and use it one tablespoon at a time.

JY: Amazing. How do you make it?

ES: We use leeks and dried onion flakes because dried onion flakes have less liquid. We want this concentrate to be more flavorful from vegetables, not from water.

JY: That's smart.

ES: We use celery root, which is a little stronger than celery; it has more staying power. We have parsley, we use the stems. Tomato paste and soy sauce for umami. And a whopping two tablespoons of salt.

JY: I love salt, but that sounds like a lot.

ES: Two tablespoons of kosher salt does sound like a lot of salt, but it is a two-to-one ratio to table salt, so it's really not that much. But we need those two tablespoons because it aids in the grinding of the vegetables. That's what keeps the texture nice and smooth.

JY: Of course. It's also diluted, so there's that.

ES: And the salt keeps the mixture from freezing in your freezer. Again, it makes it easier to scoop out when you need it. No thawing necessary.

JY: When I saw the video of you making it, I thought it was an amazing moment. It's magic; it scoops out like a vegetable sorbet. That's just because of all the salt in there?

ES: Yes, and because we're also choosing to use vegetables that don't have high water content -- that also helps to keep the texture very even.

JY: I see. That's why you have the onion flakes instead the fresh onion, et cetera.

ES: Yes.

JY: So when you're ready to use it, you just re-hydrate it in water?

ES: Yes. You would do one tablespoon to one cup of boiling water, and you can use it like that if you like. A lot of people use vegetable broth for cooking meat, use it for braising; it makes perfect sense. However, if you want to use it for risotto or gravy and you want something nice and smooth, you can strain it. Strain out the particles and you'd have a nice delicious clear vegetable broth.

JY: Great. How long can I keep it in the freezer, Elle?

ES: Six months, honey. A long time, a long time. I think it's just the best fix because instead of taking up all your cabinet space with all these boxes or cans or whatever, you can just store this in your freezer and you have all the broth you need.

JY: I love it, I love it. Elle, this is fantastic. Thank you so much for coming and sharing it with us.

ES: Thank you for having me.

Paladres- Cuba's private restaurant scene

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Anya Von Bremzen, author of Paladares: Recipes from the Private Restaurants, Home Kitchens, and Streets, explains the underground private restaurant scene of Cuba.

Try these recipes from Anya for the paladares experience: Arroz con Pollo a la Chorrera (Chicken and Rice), Tamal en Cazuela (Cuban Polenta) and Trucha al Vapor con Salsa Negra (Trout with Black Bean Sauce)

Melissa Clark:Anya, what is a paladar, and did I say that right?

Anya Von Bremzen: Paladar.

MC: Paladar, and what made you want to write a book on Cuban restaurants and Cuban cuisine?

AVB: Well, paladar is kind of a speakeasy. Plural is paladares. And there is a really interesting backstory. They are essentially our private restaurants in Cuba in a county where everything is essentially state-run, so that's already really interesting. The word comes from a Brazilian telenovela that Cubans were watching like crazy in the 1990s, and that was during the período especial -- there's another Spanish word for you. The special period when the Soviet Union abandoned them, and it led to a total economic collapse. During a time where they were literally having sugar water for dinner, they were watching this sexy Brazilian telenovela about a girl who starts selling sandwiches at Copacabana Beach. It's a Cinderella kind of rags to riches story. It became hugely popular and all the Cubans were salivating over this girl and her success, and here was an island where there was no food and no private enterprise. And then Castro, because the situation was so grim, allowed some measure of private enterprise and that also extended to private restaurants -- the first paladres. They called them paladares after the Brazilian telenovela, and those first enterprises according to law were to run out of people's homes, so they were already like speakeasies. No more than 12 seats and two family members had to be employed.

MC: Wow.

AVB: Basically, there was no food, so everyone improvised whatever they could get.

MC: Now you are Russian, you are living in New York. What is the connection with you and Cuba other than the Soviet connection? Is there something else?

AVB: You know, it was actually one of those cosmic, kismet situations. I really, really wanted to go to Cuba, hearing that it was changing, and I wanted to catch the last socialist moment to see how that society was. Growing up in Russia, my second language was Spanish. I went to a Spanish speaking school. My mother sent me there and my first crush was on a Cuban boy.  Castro came to our school, and it was like a small little Soviet school for Spanish speakers. Every other week Fidel would come -- and Brezhnev -- a bushy eyed Brezhnev, and a bushy bearded Fidel, you know, they're all locked in this eternal socialist embrace, and he would come for another handout from the USSR.

MC: What was that like, to be there and to see the shortages again and to really be immersed in this culture that was similar to how you grew up, or was it?

AVB: It kind made me believe in time machines. It was an utterly, utterly, surreal experience. The first shock -- literally, I started screaming it was so shocking -- was landing. We landed in a small town because they just inaugurated direct flights in Santa Clara and I saw all those American cars gliding by from the '50s. I literally shrieked because it was like landing in Jurassic Park. You've seen one car in a museum and another car, but they're so huge.

MC: Yeah.

AVB: And they have sculpted things on them. I realized that the Ford car is not the American Chevy from the 1960s, the Soviet Larder. Suddenly I felt like I was back in a socialist moment of 1989 when Russia was going through Perestroika and it was already open to the West. There were some things trickling in from the West. There was this double economy where you could operate in dollars. It was the Soviet Union back in a very specific moment, and what was incredible was not just that there was so much Soviet aid economically to Cuba, but that the whole material culture was exported from the USSR. And they still use it, the Soviet refrigerators that I grew up with, the Soviet cars, the Soviet washing machines. Imagine me sitting down on this exotic island, sitting down with a bunch of Cubans my age -- and we're all nostalgic for exactly the same foodstuffs. All the socialists said, "Oh, I remember the Bulgarian stuffed peppers," and "Oh, remember the Hungarian pickles with a picture of a globe on the cover?" and "Oh, remember the Soviet condensed milk?" It was  the most bizarre thing, and kind of very rewarding because suddenly you see that you are kind of socialist brothers.

MC: The shortages are obviously a big issue. How do the restaurants run when they don't know if they're going to be able to get salt or butter or onions?

AVB: That is the million dollar question. What I decided to do with this book was to sit down with owners of fourteen or fifteen paladares and not get in the way. I let them tell the story. The stories in the book are told in first person, in their voice, as told to me. And the biggest question is: How do you run a restaurant when the word "perdido" is going to be lost? Suddenly, butter is perdido, salt is perdido. One restaurant told me, "You know what my biggest salvation is? The chalkboard." And for me the chalkboard is not a trendy bistro accessory. It's actually something that when the service starts, but two of the dishes have an ingredient missing, I just substitute it. And a Spanish woman who has a paladar said, "Well, you know the fashionable Spanish from Spain and America come to my restaurant and they talk about Cucina de Mercado," or market cuisine. She said they don't realize that we don't have anything but the market cuisine and market is completely quixotic. So, it's supposedly mango season but the mangoes are not there, and you scramble to go to a hard currency store and get canned peaches instead of the mango puree that you wanted to put in and you substitute it. The other difficulties is that there is no wholesale market and there is no legal export. Basically there's a suitcase trade. If you need something like malted salt, vanilla, spices, everyone brings it in the suitcases and they're not supposed to. They wouldn't even talk to me on the record about it. And then people improvise.  It's literally like you don't know what's going to be on the menu and then all these people suddenly come knocking on your door with great fish.

MC: Right, so you use it.

AVB: You improvise around that.

MC: What are they serving at these paladares? What kind of food is this new Cuban cuisine?

AVB: Again, it's something improvised. For instance, there's one guy who runs two places, they're super hipster, they could be in Brooklyn. He's never been abroad except for Cancun, which kind of blew his mind. But the menu looks completely trendy and up-to-date. I said, "How do you know things?" He said, "Well, my secret is that I have a connection at the Havana airport and he smuggles Spanish food magazines to me." Or for instance, someone starts serving tataki. Flash seared tuna or beef, you know it's a Japanese preparation. And suddenly everyone is serving tataki. How do they know what tataki is? And they say, "Well, there was some Japanese guy that came in and he showed us what the tataki was." So there are a lot of USB drives with cookbooks. That's how information travels. Believe it or not avant garde chefs like Ferran Adria is a total guru. Everything has become mythologized and surrounded by legends. You can actually see an evolving cuisine in front of your eyes. Of course they serve classics as well, like beans, rice, and that kind of stuff. But since paladares are expensive for locals, they serve that kind of stuff to foreigners. Locals want beef, they want lobster, they want stuff that you can't get and that is forbidden actually.

MC: Now who goes to these paladares? Is it only tourists or are there locals that can afford it?

AVB: There are a lot of expats and a lot of the paladares are owned by expats and their stories are always the same. They say, "I fell in love with Cuba, I fell in love with a girl or a guy, I stayed and opened a paladar because there were no good places to eat." But there are enough Cubans who travel and bring business associates. A lot of people from Miami, a lot of their relatives that come. There are some older popular ones, even the state-owned ones. There's this famous roast chicken restaurant. And there are these huge reunited families and their relatives from Florida that come and take out their Cuban families there. But some of them are completely full, you can't get in. You actually need a reservation.

MC: And you can make a reservation, just calling them up?

AVB: Yes, or if you can get internet, you can do that.

MC: Anya, thank you so much!

AVB: It's been a gas, thank you so much.

Adam Rapoport on The Art of the Sandwich

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Sandwiches are the work horse of lunches everywhere, but not always memorable.  Adam Rapoport of Bon Appetit helps turn this work horse into a work of art. Check out his tips, then try his recipe for Green Goddess Tuna Salad Sandwich, a beautiful melding of tuna, greens and herbs.

 

Francis Lam: So, you and the magazine put together this enormous package on the A to Zs of the art of sandwich making.

Adam Rapoport: Exactly. Not the A to Z of sandwiches; we're not running down every type, but rather how to make sandwiches -- because I find that, probably more so than any other dish --people are really particular about how they like their sandwiches. Even something like PB & J --it's peanut butter and jelly. But, you ask someone and they're like, well, obviously, you use creamy, and I'm like, what do you mean obviously? No, you don't, you use chunky. Why would you use chunky? Creamy is how you're supposed to make a PB & J. And then you talk about, well, it's on white bread, of course. I'm like, I don't like white bread, I like multigrain, I want it sturdy. Then, do you toast it? Why would you toast it? And it gets into this whole ethos and psychology of how to build the perfect sandwich.

FL: And so, from those conversations, which I would imagine are typically friendly, but the way you're characterizing them maybe are not so friendly conversations --

AR: They can get a little heated at times.

FL: I would love to hear some of the letters of your sandwich alphabet.

AR: Well, all right. P is for PB & J and it's obviously PB & J. Talking to some professional chefs and sandwich makers, you wonder how clever could they get; they just make the same thing. And it was interesting talking to some of them. For instance, this one sandwich maker Pete Lemos at Wax Paper in Los Angeles spreads the peanut butter and crushes fresh peanuts on top of the peanut butter, and then does the strawberry jam, and then slices fresh strawberries on top of the jam.

FL: Oh, my goodness.

AR: I'm like, oh, that, yeah, that works. Tommy Habetz at Bunk Sandwiches in Portland -- this is kind of cool -- he'll do peanut butter on both slices of the bread so the jam doesn't leech into the sandwich, the bread itself. When you were a kid, you'd bring your sandwich to school --

FL: And half of it is soggy because the jam is water-based.

AR: So then, he'll do the jam in the middle and then sprinkle it with some sea salt.

FL: Very smart. So there's a barrier philosophy. I feel like when you put mayonnaise on a sandwich, it almost always feels like it needs to go on both sides, both pieces of bread for the same reason. If there's lettuce or tomato, the mayonnaise will act as that barrier. You want to protect the bread.

AR: With mayo, I'm one of those guys, I will literally just have a mayo sandwich. I love mayonnaise. Give me a jar of Hellman's and a baguette and I'm all good. And of course, I know our listeners in the South, they're going to be like, why aren't you using Duke's, and I'm like, because I can't find Duke's up here in New York. But it's interesting, because mayo is fat, and it also repels any sort of wateriness because oil and water don't mix, so if you have a wet tomato, that mayonnaise on the other side buffers it, and I think flavor-wise, you always want to put something on both sides. You want that mouth feel to connect on all different levels.

FL: Although I'm also a firm believer that if you only put it on one side, the mayo has to go on the bottom piece of bread, meaning the one that is going to hit your tongue, because when you have mayo on the top, like on a burger bun or something, I feel like you never taste the mayonnaise because you have to fight through everything else before you get to it. And let's face it, the sandwich, to me, anyway, is at least 49% of the time a vehicle for mayonnaise.

AR: I think a vehicle for mayonnaise and condiments in general. If you think, a veggie burger is not a sandwich, but even if you don't like veggie burgers, you still get to put all the good stuff on there like a regular burger. But in our A to Z guide, A is for architecture, and that's the first thing you have to consider. You're building a sandwich. It's not a recipe. What do you put where? For instance, with cold cuts, I love good ham, like prosciutto cotto, cooked prosciutto, or Paris-style ham, but I will always be like, if I'm going to the butcher to get some, or the deli, I want that shaved so thin it's almost transparent, and then you can create these little folds. It's almost like a meat rosette, and that creates a loftiness to the sandwich. I don't want that. As a kid, you'd have those thick-sliced cold cuts with that weird rubber stuff on the outside, and it would just be this dense mouth of meatiness. I want airiness; that stuff matters. And then, where do you put the avocado so the avocado doesn't slide out? These things are important.

FL: I want to get to this idea of the thin-sliced meat thing. When I was a kid, my folks worked in New York City. They worked in Chinatown, and Little Italy is right next door, and they would go to the delis in Little Italy, and no matter what they got, they would always come back super, super thin-sliced. Like you said, they're almost like filament thin and it would be such a difference.

AR: First of all, the Italians know what they're doing when it comes to cold cuts. In Italy, the meat is always shaved super-thin. And especially in Japanese culture, texture matters when it comes to food and it's an important element in the taste experience. It's not just the flavor, it's the texture also, and what I like about Italian sandwiches, ones you get in Italy, is that they don't overstuff the sandwich with meat. If you get a prosciutto or a mortadella sandwich, there's an equal amount of meat to cheese to bread to some sort of butter or mayonnaise or whatever. It doesn't have to be six inches of meat --

FL: Clubbing you in the head.

AR: Yeah, which, it's okay if it's pastrami because that's kind of a different thing, but basic cold cuts? I don't need that much mortadella in my sandwich.

FL: It's more about the combination.

AR: Yeah, exactly. Every element in the sandwich, again, with architecture, should complement one another, not one element should dominate.

FL: I have to ask you about one of your letters. D for diagonal.

AR: Oh, yeah, well, obviously. Again, every sandwich tastes better when it's sliced on the diagonal, so you get those triangular shapes and that one pointy end is the entryway for that first bite. You're like, OK, I know to start there, and it just looks so much more modern. It's like a Mies van der Rohe skyscraper. It's clean angles, and you're like, ooh, that looks good. Sliced in the middle, it's like I'm in second grade and just eating that peanut butter and jelly sandwich where the jelly is leeching through the bread.

FL: I'm going to look forward to having this conversation with you again four years from now, when plating trends are all rectangles, and you'll be like, no, obviously, you have to slice the sandwich down the middle so you have two perfect rectangles.

AR: Oh god, I'm a traditional modernist. But speaking of bread, another great tip in this package comes from Mason Hereford at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans. We named his restaurant best new restaurant in America this year, et cetera, et cetera. For all his sandwiches, he griddles the bread. He butters both sides of each piece of nice white bread, fries those in a pan so they get nice golden brown, and then he either puts them in a cooling rack or builds a tee-pee of them leaning against each other and lets the griddled toast rest for 30 seconds before he builds the sandwich. The fat collects back in, so it crisps up and it's not too warm and soggy as soon as the thing is going on. You get this crisp, golden, crunchy bread-toast sort of thing around any sandwich, and it's one of those key moves where you're like, oh, that's genius, I'm doing that.

FL: Totally. That's like, oh, if you have beautiful French fries or friend chicken, you don't put the lid back on, you don't put the cover on it.

AR: I've done that before. I've gone to get takeout fried chicken and I immediately get to my car and I open it up and I spread it all over the passenger seat.

FL: Just directly on the seat.

AR: Sorry, honey, but I had to.

FL: I've got to save the crispness. Okay, what are other letters that you love?

AR: All right, so, E for egg sandwich, which you see a lot of these days. Egg sandwiches are having a moment after being a basic thing, at least in New York City, for decades. And what you see at Wylie Dufresne's Du's Donuts out here in Brooklyn -- which he does, and is actually a classic French technique -- is to cook the scrambled eggs super soft and custardy. It's that technique where you make a scrambled egg over medium heat and you're constantly moving your little rubber spatula around, so it almost takes on the consistency of soft polenta, these teeny little curds. It never develops any skin or brownness, and it's done before you think it's done, and it should be, like I said, like soft pudding, and you just ladle that onto whatever sort of toast or cheese, or whatever. And he also adds, which I love to do also sometimes, a dollop of cream cheese into the scrambled eggs, and that just gives it this magical creaminess and sustains that creaminess so the eggs never seize up. And then if you want to throw some American cheese on there, you can also do that, but it's that texture, crispy griddled bread, custardy soft scrambled eggs, and again, it's still just eggs and toast, but you're like, oh, that's a whole different level of eggs and toast that I've never experienced.

FL: Okay, let's get out of here, I've got to get a sandwich.

AR: Exactly.

FL: Thanks, Adam.

AR: Thanks, Francis.

Is brunch hell? Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano explain

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As hosts of the public radio show, The Dinner Party Download, Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano helped listeners learn how to "win your dinner party."  They have now authored the book "Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party." They talk to Francis Lam about why you should opt for a dinner party, not brunch (unless you are a new parent.)


Francis Lam: Brendan and Rico -- thanks for joining us.

Brendan Francis Newman: Thanks for having us.

Rico Gagliano: Thank you, Francis.

FL: So, I love your book, but I have to say I take an exception to the title, Brunch is Hell. Because I'm the father of a daughter that has to be in bed by 7:30 p.m. I don't get to go out to dinner anymore. Don't take my brunch away from me. That is all I got man.

RG: That's OK. We give you a special dispensation. It's in a footnote in the first one or two chapters of the book that new parents get brunch because it is one of the few times that they can go out.

FL: Alright fine, Brendan and Rico. We are here to talk not about brunch, but about dinner parties and how to throw them. In your mind, what matters when you're setting up your home for people to come over?

BFN: Well, it's a good question because we think part of the reason people are not having dinner parties is because they do have anxiety about how their house looks or how the food is going to be. If you have absolutely no time, the only thing you really, really need to do is clean your bathroom.

RG: Yeah.

BFN: As basic as that sounds, it's the one room in the house where people are going to be alone. And you should probably check the medicine cabinet because your guests are going to. Other than that, yes, you can clean up your living room and maybe put some old magazines away. The kitchen can remain a mess because that's often where people will be hanging out, but that's fine. That is where a lot of the work is getting done. And the reason we like dinner parties is because they are a reflection of you. If your home isn't perfectly polished -- that's OK. It can actually make people feel a little more relaxed about their homes.

FL: How do you like to get into the mode? I want to be present with people.

RG: That is absolutely one of the most important things about a dinner party -- that it is one of the few places in modern life where you can be present for a long time with other people and share a conversation. We have a list of challenges over time that the dinner party has overcome, and it's managed historically to always overcome these obstacles, but we are not entirely sure that it has managed to overcome the invention of the iPhone, which allows you to stream kitten videos at the dinner table. Some people have this idea that everybody should give up their phones and put them in a bowl that sounds vaguely like a 1970s key party to us, and you're also treating your friends like children. I do think that you should police this a little bit, you know, if people are getting out their phones too much just be like, hey, please, we want to be having a conversation here. And there are places during a dinner party, kind of stopping points where it's perfectly OK to take out the phone and check on your babysitter, or see what the scores of the game are. Usually that is between dinner and dessert when everyone is cleaning off the table. Again if you go to the bathroom alone you can check your phone a little bit there, too.

FL: OK, so if we are at the table we are doing our best to keep our hands off our devices.

BFN: Yes.

FL: Unless we're using the long knives and forks and spoons. And everyone wants to be a gracious host and host the lively conversation where we touch up on the issues of the day with wit and candor, but sometimes it's awkward and I will make an excuse to go back to kitchen.

RG: Oh, really?

FL: So how do you get people talking?

BFN: Well, you know there are a couple of phases to this. Before you go to the table, you welcomed people, maybe gave them a drink, you've introduced some folks, you've taken the jackets, and that is the time for small talk. And then by the time you arrived at dinner, we've had some hors d'oeuvres, or maybe have gotten to know to each other, and that's when we advocate for deeper conversation. The number one rule, we think, is shut up.

RG: Weirdly.

BFN: Weirdly, it's to get out of the way, it's to listen. People want to be heard and often in life they are not. And so if someone is in the middle of a story, let them have some space. There is no rush.

RG: It's fascinating. We actually have a quote in the book from what seems like an unlikely source, Alan Alda, who has done some research on conversations and the ways that information is transmitted, and it turns out that when people tell stories their brains literally sync up. When someone is telling you a story your brain syncs with that person. So, a goal of a good dinner party is to get people to tell stories because you're literally mind melding with the other people at the table.

FL: Oh, I love that!

BFN: But in the moment it's really like go with the flow, make it personal, and talk about people as opposed to abstract principles, and often people will listen in if you're telling a story about how a person was affected by a policy, as opposed to just the abstract policy as well.

FL: Thanks so much Brendan and Rico!

BFN: Alright goodbye Francis look for our invitation in your email.

RG: Anytime Francis.