Episode 106: Errol Morris, Mammoth Cheese, and 4000 Years Of Food

0:00 0:00
Errol Morris/Courtesy of IFC / Sundance Selects

This week: Documentary auteur Errol Morris reluctantly joins the party… A half-ton cheese rolls up to the White House… and we dig into millenia’s worth of food with culture critic Lewis Lapham. Plus, a joke from author Ransom Riggs, and a new tune from The War on Drugs.

Icebreaker: Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs, author of the bestselling novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, tries to prove that chaise lounges are, in fact, Celtic.

Small Talk: Snore Patrols, Mankinis, and Monkey-See-Monkey-Shoot
The staff at Marketplace dredge up some news that didn’t make the headlines, like a beach town in the UK county of Cornwall outlawing mankinis and other “nonsensical” things.

Radio listeners heard Reyhan Harmanci, culture editor at The Bay Citizen in San Francisco, tell us about the monkey business that ensued after a primate shutterbug took some brilliant self-portraits.

A History Lesson with Booze: The Mammoth Cheese and the “Berkshire Local Motive”
This week back in 1801, the Baptists of Cheshire, Mass. celebrated Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency by making him a strange gift of congratulations – a 1,200 pound cheese. Hear about the grand fromage, then wash it down with this cheese-complementary custom cocktail.

“The Berkshire Localmotive,” as churned out by Nancy Thomas at Mezze Bistro & Bar in Western Massachussetts – origin of the cheese ball.

Add to shaker with ice:

Stir and strain into a small martini glass, preferably an old-fashioned “coupe” glass. Top with a splash of sparkling apple cider. Wrap yourself in the American flag and sip while nibbling on the biggest possible piece of cheese you can fit in your house.

Guest of Honor: Errol Morris
Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris has made films that poke at the rationales behind Vietnam (“The Fog Of War”), capital punishment (“Dr. Death”) and wrongful criminal convictions (“The Thin Blue Line”). But he’s not averse to having fun – as evidenced by his new movie “Tabloid,” which gleefully (yet thoughtfully) explores a twisty sex scandal that was the talk of ’70s-era Britain. Errol tells Rico about the nature of truth, his most difficult interview, and his distaste for dinner parties.

Main Course: Food Through The Ages
Each issue of Lapham’s Quarterly collects writing based on a broad theme. The current “Food” issue includes an Ancient Chinese etiquette primer, an exasperated account of da Vinci’s kitchen “bedlam,” a dash of Anthony Bourdain, and dozens of fascinating stories and essays in-between. Brendan talks to editor Lewis Lapham – also longtime editor at Harper’s – about our changing tastes… and our perpetual fascination with food.

One For The Road: The War on Drugs – “Best Night”
Philadelphia’s ramshackle rock outfit The War on Drugs is set to release its second full LP in August (Slave Ambient, out 8/16). The band revels in languid riffs and lyrical storytelling; think of them as troubadours in the 21st century. Check out the track “Best Night” – best listened to as the last embers burn out.

Music On This Week’s Show:

Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

The Wedding Present – “Signal”

Link Wray – “Jack the Ripper”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Henry Mancini – “The Greatest Gift”

Nirvana – “Big Cheese”

John Kusiak – “Special Guy” (from the “Tabloid” soundtrack)

Duke Ellington – “Tea and Trumpets”

The War on Drugs – “Best Night”