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The dirt on eating dirt. January 29, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I was a bit rattled to go on Yahoo!’s home page this morning and see a feature about a French restaurant in Tokyo that was serving a special menu on which every course contained dirt. At Ne Quittez Pas, and for only $110, you can enjoy potato starch and dirt soup, salad with dirt dressing, aspic with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment, dirt risotto with sauteed sea bass, dirt gratin, and dirt ice cream. What a steal! I hope you’re booking your plane reservation now.

Mind you, this isn’t just any old dirt. It’s composed by a company called Protoleaf from volcanic ashes, soil, and plants from the Kanto District of Japan. Protoleaf claims that their special dirt contains healthy bacteria to boost digestive health along with minerals our bodies need.

Um. Speaking of lost in translation. No doubt, if the company had called its product something more euphemistic, maybe “earth essentials” or “natural nutrients,” it wouldn’t be making front-screen news on Yahoo! “Dirt” is definitely less food-friendly. Even earth, soil, and compost have less negative connotations when it comes to eating, uh, dirt.

Not that eating dirt is a novelty. Creatures from earthworms to parrots and people eat mineral-rich clays and other soils to get their nutrient fix. There’s even a scientific term for people who eat clay in order to get the minerals their bodies need: geophagy. But generally speaking, they’re not paying $110 per meal and aren’t worried about chemical contamination and other toxic pollutants.

According to the Japanese website Rocket News, which sent reporters to sample Ne Quittez Pas’s special dirt menu, the food might have looked a bit dirty but it tasted delicious. If they say so. I think I’ll just stay home, pocket my $110 (plus air fare, hotel expenses, and the like) and make a good, hot, dirt-free meal.

‘Til next time,

Silence

Vegetarian French onion soup. January 28, 2013

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Silence Dogood here. Baby, it’s cold outside! And one of the great warming winter soups is French onion, redolent of onions, topped with crusty bread and gooey melted cheese. Yum! Trouble is, this soup is typically made with beef stock, or even, in the America’s Test Kitchen version, a combination of beef and chicken broths. Could you make French onion soup vegetarian and still keep its richness intact?

This was the challenge I set myself. There are so many good boxed veggie stocks/broths in every grocery store that the soup part didn’t bother me. The issue was imbuing the soup with incredible onion flavor. And that takes a lot of onions.

To get the onion into French onion soup, I slice four large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or WallaWalla) super-thin, then cut each slice in half. Folks, this is a lot of onion! But you need that much to get rich body into your French onion soup. Next, I caramelize the sliced onions in my LeCreuset Dutch oven (any heavy pot would do, but I love my LeCreuset) with butter and salt. (I like RealSalt or Trocomare, hot herb-seasoned salt.) Once the onions have browned and caramelized, I pour in a box of veggie stock—and add a part or all of a second box to make sure we have a soup, not a sauce—and add cracked black pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, I slice a crusty French baguette into thin slices and brush the surface of each slice with olive oil, then run it briefly into the toaster oven to crisp it up. (Sprinkling each slice with an Italian herb mix of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram, or a dash of Herbamare or Trocamare will definitely kick it up.)

I ladle the soup into individual oven-proof containers, top them with two slices of baguette, and cover the soup and bread with shredded Swiss cheese, then run each ramekin under the broiler for a couple of minutes—watching like a hawk the whole time—to allow the cheese to melt. Swiss cheese?! Aren’t we talking about FRENCH onion soup?!! Yes we are. But shredded Swiss or Gruyere or even Jarlsberg seems to set off the other flavors perfectly. Try it! Add a crunchy winter salad and you’re all set.

‘Til next time,

Silence

My dream food show. January 25, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As a fan of food competitions and a vegetarian, I can’t help but notice that it seems like every food competition on “Chopped” and “Iron Chef America” is really heavy on meat (including fish and seafood). What I’d really love is to have an all-vegetarian cooking competition.

My dream panel of judges would be Tony Bourdain (who famously hates vegetarians more than anything), Madhur Jaffrey (the person most responsible for introducing America to Indian cuisine), Diana Kennedy (ditto for Mexican cuisine), Mario Batali (molto Mario!), and Alice Waters (founder of Chez Panisse, which launched the locavore movement, really included just to annoy Tony). None of these people are vegetarians, but that’s beside the point: All of them can appreciate good food. And vegetarian food can be as good as any food on earth. Hey, I’ve had amazing vegetarian food at a Zen monastery where every other aspect was dauntingly regimented and stark.

I’d nominate even more judges, none of them vegetarians, from France, Greece, Britain, Scandinavia, Africa, Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea, Australia, and on and on, but unfortunately, the show format seems to limit the judging panel to four judges and a host, and I’ve already named my five. Rats! Maybe I can add on if we’re renewed for a second season. Marcus Samuelsson, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Psilakis, Anne-Sophie Pic, I’m looking at you!

I think the format should be a little looser than it is in most of the competitions, more like it seems to be going in the new show “The Taste”: The competitors should be able to choose what they want to make, as opposed to being slapped with insane combinations of disgusting or unknown ingredients and expected to beat the clock to make something edible out of them. Sure, they could be restricted on any given episode to the cuisine of a given region, be it the Andes or Normandy or the Deep South or Hong Kong.

As in all cooking competitions, once they’ve acquired their ingredients, they should race the clock to prepare and present them to the judges. With one caveat: They should have all the time they need to prepare the stocks, sauces and etc. before the episode begins. The best food is slow food (or just-picked fruits and veggies eaten raw); you can’t rush cooking and get the same texture, aroma, and depth of flavor. But once the bases are covered, you should be able to make a memorable dish or meal in the hour most contests give their competitors.

The deal, in my dream, is that chefs and cooks should compete to make vegetarian food that’s so good, that’s so representative of a region, that it actually stuns the judges and makes them forget about meat. To give the contestants a chance to create or showcase dishes they’re sure will knock the competition out of the ballpark. To give them a chance to show their awesome personalities and tell us all the stories behind their vegetarianism/veganism. TV producers, are you listening?! We could call it “Vegetarian Idol.”

‘Til next time,

Silence

My brush with “Cupcake Wars” fame. January 24, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I love cooking, and I love spending quality time reading cookbooks and cooking magazines and watching cooking competitions on TV (when I’m lucky enough to see them). Because we don’t get cable channels here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA, I typically only have access to cooking competition shows when OFB and I are traveling (not exactly a common occurence) and staying in hotels. Which means that what I’m able to see on the Food Network is pretty much limited to which night I’m in a hotel.

So far, I’ve seen a number of episodes of “Chopped” (my favorite), “Iron Chef America” (go Morimoto go, you’re my food-presentation god), and “Restaurant Impossible,” with a little Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay thrown in for good measure. But I’ve never seen “Cupcake Wars.”

This doesn’t mean I’m unaware of “Cupcake Wars,” though. An article in VegNews magazine spotlighted a vegan baker, Chloe Coscarelli, who’d actually won the cupcake wars. As a vegetarian myself, this stuck in my mind. Vegan cupcakes?! Visions of tofu for moistness and tapioca for binding came to mind. For a vegan to win must mean her cupcakes are really something. (And in fact, as I subsequently discovered, there have been at least three vegan bakers who have won the “Cupcake Wars.” Yow.)

But it wasn’t vegan cupcakes that brought me my brush with “Cupcake Wars” fame. Instead, it was a trip to Reading, PA with my friend Amy to celebrate her birthday. She wanted to go to a street full of quirky shops and restaurants in West Reading and spend the day poking around. We started with lunch at Aladdin, a wonderful, award-winning Lebanese restaurant. This cheered me up no end: Yum!!! What a great way to start any day, with baba ghannouj, olive salad, falafel, and etc. (I had plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch, too.)

We continued our peregrinations after lunch, visiting many one-of-a-kind shops and a used bookstore (the yarn store was closed, drat). And then Amy said that she wanted me to see a cupcake shop that had especially amazing cupcakes.

Uh, cupcakes? Well, okay, it was her birthday, and I was game. We walked down to a little store with an “Ady Cakes” sign out front. Amy kept pronouncing what to me was obviously “A-dy” as “addy,” but her hearing’s not the best, so I made allowances. (Eventually, it dawned on me that the name was a play on “paddy cakes,” and that Amy’s pronunciation was correct.)

Then I saw the sign out front: Ady of Ady Cakes had won the Cupcake Wars! OMG. I remembered her from reading about the show. I was going into the shop of someone who was a Food Network winner!

The shop itself was small, simple, and unpretentious. One wall was given to a case of elaborate wedding cakes, obviously models to inspire people to choose or create their own. The modest front counter housed a case of fresh-baked cupcakes. I was impressed by the intelligence behind the setup: Every cupcake was made to the same pattern, a cupcake topped with a generous swirl of icing. Using the same design for all the cupcakes would make it possible for Ady to make every cupcake, every single day, for her customers. A more elaborate setup would have meant that she’d need a whole lot of help to create the same number of cupcakes.

The cupcakes themselves didn’t look that stunning: They were cupcakes, for chrissakes, with some icing on top. But the flavors of those cupcakes were inspired, beyond heavenly. I was awed by the combinations of cake, filling, and topping flavors the cupcakes featured, from a Mimosa cupcake to Dulce de Leche, Pink Champagne, Red Velvet, Coconut Key Lime, Pistachio Cardamom, Cranberry Orange, and Pomegranate Ginger (ooh la la!). I’d have been happy to order one of each.

Given my post-holiday waistline, however, I wasn’t about to go for dessert of any kind, be it baklava at Aladdin or a luscious cupcake from Ady Cakes. Amy finally settled on a coconut cupcake as a treat for her father. We were preparing to leave. And then, it happened: Ady herself, Ady Abreu, walked into the store. “Hello!” I said cheerfully. “Hello,” she responded. OMG!!! I’d actually seen and spoken to the creator of Ady Cakes, the “Cupcake Wars” winner, who presumably is normally hidden like the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain in the back of the store baking while her amiable frontman handles the orders.

I was stunned. It’s not likely that I’ll be rubbing shoulders anytime soon with the likes of Tony Bourdain or Mario Batali or Masaharu Morimoto. It would never have occurred to me that I’d ever have rubbed shoulders with anyone who’d ever appeared on a cooking show. Yowie kazowie, what a thrill/shock!

But you can do it, too, if you live within driving distance of Reading. Ady Cakes is located at 631 Penn Avenue, West Reading PA 19611. Check out her website at http://www.adycakes.com/. I say, go for it! You too can meet a Food Network celebrity and enjoy some of her amazing creations (and hey, they’re not even expensive)!

‘Til next time,

Silence

Burning blog questions. January 23, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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What bothers bloggers most (besides spam)? Today, our friend Ben discovered two questions filtered out as spam by Poor Richard’s Almanac’s excellent spam filter, Akismet, lurking among this morning’s 21 spam comments, that I thought were legitimate. (I force myself to spin down the filtered spam comments every day just in case one happens not to be spam. This has only happened about five times, but still.)

The two comments were probably rote responses like most of the other spam. But they both bring up valid points, points that actually relate to the blogging experience and are worth answering.

The first comment asked about how we protected our content. The person asking said that he blogged and had been discovering his content copied (without his permission) all over the internet. I’m sure he’s not the only person who’s had this experience!

Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we make minimal effort to protect our content because it’s so quirky, diverse and personal that we can’t imagine anybody bothering to steal it. The one thing we do is to make sure that if some other blog or website wants to use our content on their site via a pingback, that the blog or website really does link back to us. Otherwise, we delete them.

However, Silence Dogood maintains a separate blog with very serious, original content that she feels passionately about. On this blog, she ends every post with a copyright notice: “Copyright [copyright symbol] [name of blog owner]. All rights reserved.”

By saying this, Silence isn’t implying that nobody can use her content on their own blogs or websites; she’s simply saying that they must ask her permission first, give her full credit, and link to her blog. And of course simply posting a copyright notice won’t keep unscrupulous people from stealing your content anyway. But it does give you legal grounds for redress.

The second question was different but equally valid: How did we get ourselves into the appropriate mental state to write our blog? The questioner was having trouble motivating himself to write and asked how we managed it. It’s a simple question with a world of complex answers.

The answer that springs first to mind for me and Silence is that we’re not morning people, yet we’re often up by 5 a.m. Writing our blog posts gives us a quiet, peaceful way to activate our brains and transition into our day. It’s a great discpline for two professional writers and editors, to compose an essay first thing every morning. We love it.

Another answer is that, in this out-of-control, crazy, hectic, overburdened life we all seem to lead, blogging is something that’s completely under our control. We decide when and what to post. We decide what we want to say, and how we want to say it. What a refreshing escape from having the boss or some pathetic committee or a bunch of lawyers or marketers telling you what to write or do and how to write or do it! Not to mention how long you’re going to be doing it. A blog has no deadlines, unlike most of life. You set your own deadlines, and if you don’t stick to them, no worries: This is YOUR blog, and you’re the master of it.

And there’s another answer, one that we love: Writing a blog puts you in touch with people you’d never otherwise meet. We love getting comments and queries from readers. We love the interaction. We love that the comments come from all over the world. This is the ultimate benefit of blogging, far beyond simply having a forum to express yourself: connection. It’s a gift, beyond anything the world has known before. To turn on your laptop and see that someone worlds away has not just read your post but taken the time to react to it is beyond awesome: It is humbling. It is wonderful. It should give us all hope.

Fans of Tony Bourdain, rejoice! January 22, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers know, I love cooking. And I love watching (and screaming at, I mean, offering helpful advice to competitors and judges) cooking competitions like “Chopped” and “Iron Chef America” when our friend Ben and I are on the road and staying in hotels that actually get The Food Network. I also enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain’s series “No Reservations,” though I have to order it from Netflix.

But it’s frustrating not to be able to get any of these shows at home, since we don’t have cable reception. We get three PBS stations, and PBS has cooking shows, too, but in order to see them you have to have, you guessed it, cable. Grrrrr!!!

So you can imagine my excitement when I read that ABC—a station we actually receive—is airing the premiere of a new cooking competition series, “The Taste,” tonight from 8 to 10 Eastern Standard Time. (It will subsequently be aired in hourlong episodes, presumably at 9.) And one of the judges is none other than Tony Bourdain! (Fans of Nigella Lawson, you too can rejoice. She’s also a judge, along with Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey.) I hope the dynamics between the judges play out well, and that Tony is his usual snarky self.

From what I’ve read of the show, it’s unusual in that the judges coach teams of both amateur and professional cooks. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out. as I know from my own cooking, the skill sets required of amateur cooks and chefs are very different. I’ve never had to face the challenge of delivering four completely different meals to a table at the same time, all at the perfect temperature and perfectly cooked. It’s enough for me to get the same meal to everyone at the table at the perfect temperature and perfectly cooked! And imagine multiplying that table of four by 10, by 20, by 30… Yikes!

All a home cook has to do is dream and create great food. A chef has to be a general, overseeing his or her army of cooks, servers, busboys, and the like. Not my idea of a good time! Give me my peaceful kitchen, where I rule alone (at least, until the meal is over and poor OFB has to do the dishes, ugh), my music, my beautiful ingredients, and let me combine them and touch them and smell them and delight in them in my own good time. It’s quite a contrast to the hot, steamy, lightning-paced work that goes on behind a restaurant’s kitchen doors. But I digress.

At any rate, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s premiere, though admittedly I’m wondering how they’ll fill a movie-length program and keep it exciting. But if anyone could do it, that person would be Tony Bourdain! If any of you watch the show, please share your impressions with us.

‘Til next time,

Silence

Paying those awful bills. January 19, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Does bill-paying make you sweat, make you feel sick, uncontrollably nervous, shaky, queasy? Does it make your pulse race or make you light-headed or panicky? You’re not alone.

I hate paying bills. I hate the fact that they come due throughout the month rather than all coming due on the 1st, 15th, or 30th of each month, so you’d at least know when you had to pay them. I hate seeing thousands of dollars flying out the door every month on bills I have no choice but to pay, such as health insurance (and car and home insurance), electricity, phone, and fuel oil. I hate the pressure that seeing that drain on my account each month puts on me.

Maybe it isn’t as bad if your bills are automatically deducted from your paycheck each month, so you not only don’t have to deal with them but you don’t really even have to see them. But I’m a freelancer and don’t have a monthly paycheck, so I have to pay the bills myself, check by check, every month. Seeing how little is coming in versus how much is going out is a real panic. I’d rather stick pins in my fingers than sit down to pay bills. Seriously.

How do you handle paying bills?

‘Til next time,

Silence

I could eat a horse. January 17, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” But most of us assume that refers to the size of the meal we’d like to consume rather than its content. So when I read the headline in today’s Yahoo! News, “Horse meat found in supermarket burgers,” I started shouting for our friend Ben.

“Eeeeewwww!!! Ben, wait ’til you hear this!”

OFB’s response surprised me. “Well, there’s nothing actually wrong with horse meat, is there?” Well, no, actually. The French famously eat horse meat. In this country, it’s used in dog food. Neither the French nor our dogs seem any the worse for the experience.

“It’s because it’s called ‘horse meat’ that people find it repulsive,” Ben continued. “It’s not too appetizing to think of ‘cow meat’ or ‘duck meat’, either.”

This is a point that, as a vegetarian, I’ve thought about a lot. I suspect that other societies are more forthright about what they call their meat, but in the English-speaking world, a sharp linguistic divide separates the live and the cooked. The names of the meats we consume are French in derivation, with their origins in the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The names of the creatures slaughtered for meat are of Anglo-Saxon descent.

Thus we have pigs but eat pork, cows but eat beef, rabbits but eat hare, calves but eat veal, sheep but eat mutton, deer but eat venison. It appears that the need to separate ourselves from our actions didn’t extend to birds and fish, which are typically called the same thing live and cooked, with the possible exception of the euphemism “seafood.” (Another headline in today’s Yahoo! News reported that scientific studies had proved that crabs could actually feel pain. Duh!!! I wonder how much it cost the taxpayers to find that out.)

I’ve always been puzzled about why we categorize some animals as appropriate for eating and others as inappropriate. We readily eat cows but not horses (relished in France), wouldn’t consider eating a dog (relished in Korea) or cat (eaten in China), couldn’t imagine slaughtering our pet guinea pigs (a staple food in the Andes) or bunnies (raised for food worldwide). Not to mention the ultimate source of meaty sustenance, people, with their high fat content and abundant muscle and soft, yielding skin, preferred by cannibalistic societies across the globe until global conquest by the Victorians wiped out those foodways.

To take the life of a fellow creature, to try to pretend that it is subhuman and therefore feels no pain as we butcher it or boil it alive or eviscerate and even eat it alive without bothering to kill it first, to separate ourselves from the source of our food, our fellow creatures, is horrific to me. To give the cooked version different names from the live animals that we kill, so we don’t have to think about them as we wolf down our boeuf bourguinon or weinerschnitzel or pate de foie gras, is hypocritical and horrifying, separating us from the acts of murder or actual torture we continually commit or support for our incidental pleasure.

No one needs to kill to enjoy a wide range of delicious and healthful foods. But should you opt for a meat-based diet, please understand what you’re actually eating, and assume responsibility for your fellow creatures dying in agony and unnecessarily for your own indulgent pleasures. Imagine a superior, alien race descending upon Earth and viewing humans as we view, say, bison, a simple source of protein. Imagine being rounded up and slaughtered to provide the aliens with food, despite who and what we are, with every consideration and respect discounted. To be, in short, considered nothing more than a food source. Would you enjoy that?

Please at least think about it.

‘Til next time,

Silence

Coleslaw with cilantro and scallions. January 15, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here, offering my final entry in a series of posts on great coleslaws for winter. The ingredients in coleslaw—especially green and red cabbage, onions, carrots, shredded broccoli stalks, and olive oil—are incredibly good for you. And if you buy pre-shredded cabbage, carrots, broccoli slaw, and etc.—you can even buy pre-diced onion and bell peppers—making slaw is quick and easy, and you still get the health benefits.

What offsets those benefits are slaws doused in mayo, heavy dressings, and the like. I like to keep mine light. Not that I don’t often add crumbled cheese, especially in winter slaws, or even a little blue cheese or ranch dressing if I’m throwing together a super-quick coleslaw, but no mayonnaise, cream, or the like has ever touched one of my slaws. (See my previous posts, Coleslaw sees red, A rich winter coleslaw, and Fast, fresh coleslaw for other recipes.) As you’ll see, this coleslaw recipe has no cheese and nothing creamy: It’s all pure, healthy, tongue-tingling flavor. Vegans, listen up! There are more ingredients in this one than in my usual slaws, but putting it together couldn’t be easier. And it’s a great way to use the stems and fronds of fennel when you’re roasting the bulb or using it in a pasta sauce! Waste not, want not.

Silence’s Coleslaw with Cilantro and Scallions

1/2 large head green cabbage, shredded
1 large bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
4 stems fennel tops (fronds), minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
2 tablespoons Trocomare or RealSalt
1 tablespoon mixed hot red and black pepper, ground
1/4 cup sherry vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste

In a large bowl, mix cabbage, red bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, and fennel. Stir in seasonings and oil and vinegar, mixing well to blend. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend, then stir thoroughly and adjust seasonings before serving.

I hope you enjoy all these winter slaws as much as we do!

‘Til next time,

Silence

Led Zeppelin alert! January 14, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben would like to interrupt Silence Dogood’s ongoing posts about winter coleslaw recipes (not that I don’t love slaw, but really) with an update that should thrill all diehard Led Zeppelin fans (such as yours truly). If you know in your heart that Led Zeppelin was the greatest rock band, Jimmy Page the greatest rock guitarist, and “Stairway to Heaven” the greatest rock anthem of all time, read on. (Everyone else is welcome to read on as well.)

There’s a new book out about Led Zeppelin that sounds like a must-have. I know, I know, there are already bazillion books out about Led Zeppelin; our friend Ben had sworn never to buy another one until Jimmy Page writes one himself. But reading a review of this one changed my mind. Get the Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World by Denny Somach (Sterling, November 2012, $29.95) is no Hammer of the Gods. (Which of course I enjoyed enormously.)

Author Somach decided to take a different approach to Zeppelin. Rather than focusing on the facts that anyone could read on Wikipedia (born, school, training, marriages, kids, etc.), he decided to base the book on 5,000 hours’ worth of interviews with the band and those who knew and know them best, and add tons of gorgeous illustrations of posters, photos, etc. to make the book more a coffee-table treasure than yet another tabloid expose of notorious (and not always true) Zep exploits.

This gives the book both a sense of immediacy (as in when a record-company executive walked into Jimmy Page’s backyard and heard him playing the opening chords of “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time: “he just froze; he couldn’t believe what he was hearing”) and the rich visuals that will satisfy the cravings of those of us who weren’t old enough to attend the concerts or buy the posters and other memorabilia, who came to Zeppelin after its fabled demise.

One thing that stupefied our friend Ben was the pricing of concert tickets back in the day. One poster featured in the review of the book, from 1971, advertised tickets to a Led Zeppelin concert for—are you sitting down?—$6. Yes, that would be six dollars. Given that tickets to fifth-rated performers at our regional theater now cost $60-plus, and tickets to fan faves like Jimmy Buffett are astronomical, Silence and I make do with the CDs of those we choose to follow. But oh my, to time-travel back to 1971 and plonk down $6 for a ticket to see Led Zeppelin! Six dollars. Okay, Ben, get a grip.

The book is apparently also peppered with entertaining factoids that should fascinate hardcore Zeppelin fans. And for those who’re just dipping their toes into Zeppelin waters, do you know how the band’s name came to be? Someone remarked on hearing that they wanted to merge blues and rock that their band would go over like a lead zeppelin. The band embraced the concept, but were concerned that people would misread the name and pronounce it as “leed”–as in, in the lead—rather than as the heavy metal for which it was named, giving an entire genre its name. Thus, “Led.” Another of our friend Ben’s all-time favorite bands, Dire Straits, was named because someone pointed out to the group that if they were depending on their music to support them, they were in dire straights. Both Led Zeppelin and Dire Straits clearly had a sense of irony and a sense of humor, as well as being fabulous musicians.

At any rate, I’ll be heading to Amazon.com today to place my order for Get the Led Out. And I’m still hoping for that book by Jimmy Page.

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