Best Of The Week

Salad Spinner

Episode: “Salad Is So Much More Than You Think” | Podcast: Bon Appétit Foodcast | 61m25s

Joyful yet serious appreciation of salad in all its variations. According to the chefs in conversation here, dressed bowls of leafy greens with toppings are “having a moment” as food and restaurant trends respond to the global wellness obsession. Yet, they argue, there’s no need for a salad to be a chore to eat — indeed, it should be a delightful meal in itself. They share practical tips for salad spinning, the correct ratio of fat and acid for the perfect dressing, and the precise toasting time for different varieties of nut to achieve the optimum crunchy topping (61m25s)

Alone Time

Episode: “Imogen Holst” | Podcast: Desert Island Discs | 27m31s

Interview from 1972 with the musician and composer Imogen Holst, who has a cut-glass accent that has to be heard to be believed. The presenter Roy Plumley guides her through the records she would choose to take with her if marooned on a desert island, and her selections make for delightful listening, from a vintage recording of a folk song to a strange cacophony of bells. She was the daughter of the composer Gustav Holst and a close collaborator of Benjamin Britten; her work was the mostly unseen glue that held British music-making together for several decades in the mid-twentieth century (27m31s)

Heavenly Body

Episode: “The Star by H.G. Wells” | Podcast: The Oddcast | 30m06s

Dramatic, atmospheric reading of an H.G. Wells short story that was first published in 1897. At the turn of the 19th century, astronomers observe that a new celestial object is disrupting the heavens and pulling the planet Neptune out of its orbit. What is initially a source of wonder becomes an object of fear as the star then moves into a collision course with Earth. Wells is widely credited with popularising the “impact event” subgenre of apocalyptic science fiction, and this is a splendid introduction to his work. The voice acting, sound design and use of music here are excellent (30m06s)

Blame Game

Episode: “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Letter On Church Sex Abuse Scandal” | Podcast: The Popecast | 36m33s

Reading of former Pope Benedict’s recent 6,000 word essay about the sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic church. It makes for jaw-dropping listening, mostly because of the total absence compassion or sympathy for the thousands of victims abused by priests and other figures of church authority. Instead, the abdicated pontiff focuses on who is to blame for the epidemic of paedophilia in the organisation he used to lead. He absurdly points the finger at the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the increasing secularisation of western society and the more liberal theology of Vatican II (36m33s)

Slip Away

Episode: “Envisioning AIDS” | Podcast: Here Be Monsters | 37m43s

Documentary about a rediscovered cassette tape that contains a recorded conference session on how to visualise your own death from AIDS. It was used at an event for religious leaders in San Francisco in 1987, at a time when people were dying every day from the virus and there was no cure in sight. The tape guides the listener through detailed, intimate scenes from their own death; it’s an extraordinary tool for eliciting empathy and action. This episode also discusses the anti-queer rhetoric that was burgeoning at the time and entrenching harsher attitudes to HIV positive people (37m43s)

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