Guests: Chris Addison, Jack Dee, Rich Hall
Aired: 25th November 2011, BBC Two
Most people believe that alcohol evaporates as soon as it’s brought to the boil. In fact, to get rid of virtually all the alcohol you need to cook the dish for about three hours.
Simmering or boiling will cause alcohol to evaporate - but the effect isn’t instant. The US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory conducted experiments on this, and their results were surprising.
For instance, if you add wine to a boiling liquid, such as a stock, and then immediately remove the pot from the heat, 85% of the booze will remain. Setting fire to the alcoholic substance - flambéing brandy, say - only removes 25% of the alcohol. If you stir the wine into your casserole, and simmer it for half an hour, 35% of the alcohol remains. By the time you’ve simmered it for two and a half hours, it's down to 5%.
Interestingly, if you add the alcohol to the recipe, don’t heat it at all, and just leave it uncovered overnight, that’ll get rid of 30%. So that gets rid of more alcohol than setting fire to it does.
Of course this doesn’t matter to most people, but it could certainly be a problem for children, recovering alcoholics, and people who need to avoid ethanol for medical reasons. And if you’re out for a meal, and you drink up to your legal blood-alcohol limit, the booze in the cooking could just push you over.
Until 1751 all geishas were men. The Japanese version of a jester, these men were attendants and advisors to daimyo (feudal lords) from the 13th century. Their role changed to that of entertainer in the 17th century often working with the oiran (courtesans), but the first female geisha is not recorded until 1751. She was called geiko ('arts girl'), which is still the term for geisha in Kyoto today. By the end of the 18th century these onna geisha outnumbered the male geisha - the taikomochi.
In Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World, Lesley Downer wrote that in Yoshiwara in 1770, there were 16 female geisha and 31 male. In 1775 there were 33 female geisha, but still 31 male. But in 1800 there were 143 female geisha and 45 male geisha. The females started to take over the field and the role of the males was again changed - this time the males took on a role of supporting the women at parties.
The No-eyed Big-eyed Wolf Spider has no eyes. The blind arachnid was was discovered in the 1970s and the entire population lives in three pitch-black caves on the volcanic island of Kauai in Hawaii. It's also know as the Kauai Wolf Spider or pe'e pe'e maka 'ole in Hawaiian (literally 'hidden no-eye'). Like other cave-dwelling beasts it evolved without needing to see, but as it’s a member of the big-eyed wolf spider family (lycosidae), it gets to call itself big-eyed (i.e. if it did have any eyes left, they’d be big ones).
It’s about the size of a 50-pence piece when fully grown. It doesn’t catch its prey in a web, but instead chases it, seizes it, and bites it with its three large teeth. Wolf spiders are called 'wolf' precisely because of this hunting habit, but of course most of them use their excellent eyesight to track the prey. It’s thought No-Eyes probably follows scent trails instead.
Very little is known about this spider - for instance, eyesight is usually important
in spider courtship, and no-one has any idea how the No-Eyed manages to mate without eyes. Blind dates, possibly? Its rooming buddy and main source of nourishment is the Kauai cave amphipod, a small crustacean that resembles a blind, semi-transparent shrimp - a case of the blind feeding the blind. Unfortunately, the amphipod is also a highly endangered species, found in only five caves, so things aren’t looking too good all round, really.Stephen's Cards
Light travels faster than sound - isn't that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?
This world we live in is but thickened light.