All Underrated List

We’ve discussed who is overrated; now it’s time to spotlight those who get no respect. The unsung greats, the geniuses toiling in obscurity, the hard working, blue collar, middle class of common thought. Yes, it’s time to talk about the underrated.

Now remember, this doesn’t mean these things are unknown; just that they aren’t given the credit they deserve. And again, they’re in no particular order. To the list!

Cauliflower

Cauliflower has long since been the bastard cousin of broccoli, and this is not okay. Broccoli gets all the spotlight because it’s green, and we’re obsessed with green food in this godforsaken hippie health-freak organic culture we’ve built ourselves, but cauliflower is healthy as shit too. It, as Wikipedia tells me, is “low in fat, low in carbs but high in dietary fiber, folate (which I think is a real thing), water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density.” Yep, nutritional density. Read it and weep, broccoli crusaders. It’s a damn ball of nutrition.

Plus, it’s a very versatile food. It has very little actual taste, just enough to keep it from being tasteless, and not too much to make it taste bad, which, being a vegetable, it almost certainly would, if it had more taste. Instead, this “minimalist taste” is delightfully usable, and lets you combine cauliflower with almost anything and get away with it. Seriously, name any dish and I can assure you that the addition of cauliflower will – at the very least – definitely probably not ruin it. And you can keep it simple too – even just combining it with melted cheese is a common favorite. It’s delicious and makes your fat ass not feel quite so bad about housing what is essentially a bowl full of cheese in a single sitting. Hey, no need to feel bad at all – it’s got nutritional density.

Silvertide

This is a band you probably haven’t heard of, and that’s not because I’m trying to pull some pretentious hipster shit on you. They were just never very well known, and didn’t last very long. Silvertide saw a small glimpse of fame in ‘04/’05 when their one barely-popular single, “Aint Comin’ Home,” was played very occasionally on mainstream rock radio. They might’ve released subsequent singles, but nobody really paid attention. And then they broke up – their career spanned one album.

Why am I telling you this? Because Silvertide f’ing rocked. That one album, Show and Tell, was 11 tracks of blistering, stupid, straightforward rock and roll, and that is something that was painfully absent through most of that particular decade. For me, it was an oasis in a desert of indie rock and easy listenings, and a godsend. They were my new favorite band.

Of course, it ended there, and was seemingly over before it started. There was no second album, as all the band members parted ways to form or participate in other projects, which uniformly sucked (trust me, I’ve checked). But I still listen to Show and Tell; it’s a naïve, underdeveloped, and massively flawed album, but maybe that’s okay. My musical tastes have changed, and I no longer cling to loud, frantic guitar licks and shrill vocals like I used to, but I can still see the good in an album like this. It falls somewhere between 80’s hair metal and modern day mainstream, wannabe rock, and that’s not a terrible place to be.

Bill Bryson

Based on how many books he’s sold I’d assume everyone on earth has heard of him, but that is apparently not the case. I stumbled upon his wilderness masterpiece A Walk in the Woods a few years ago and immediately adopted Bryson as my new favorite author. And not being one to shut the hell up about things, I of course told everyone about it, and was surprised to find a lot of people who hadn’t heard of him either. Well, regarding Bryson’s writings: if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. It is so choice. (And yes, you do have the means; your local library will have them, and I’ve recently found that libraries give out books for free. Not sure how they’re able to sustain this business model, but I plan on taking advantage until they wise up.)

Bill Bryson is smart, quick witted, hilarious, keenly observational, well-researched, and blatantly honest. Born in America (the great state of Iowa, to be exact), he moved to Europe and resided there for 30 years before finally coming back home. So right there, there’s something for everyone: the unashamed American nationalists who probably own guns, and the conceited, tea-drinking neck-beard people who are convinced Europe is “sooooo much more cultured” and better than America despite the fact that they continue to –and always will – live here. Both of these groups will enjoy Bryson – he breaks down walls.

The book in question, A Walk in the Woods, takes place just after his return stateside, when he attempts to “rediscover America” on the Appalachian Trail. Between his astute observations, lovable curmudgeon streak, and the fact that he is blatantly unequipped to hike anything, much less something as daunting as the AT, it makes for a great read.

Otters

Much like cauliflower, they’ve been the maligned stepchild of another creature for seemingly all of history. In the animal kingdom, the beaver seems to get all the credit, while the otter is routinely an afterthought. This is horseshit. Yes, beavers are much more hardworking and understanding of middle-class American values – it seems they never take a break from working on those dams, night and day. But that’s their flaw as well: beavers do not understand the work/life balance, and the singular goal of dam-building consumes their lives and gives them one-track minds. These beavers are not well-rounded individuals.

Otters, on the other hand, live life at a different pace. They aren’t concerned with dam-building, oil wells, gold mines, or real estate; they mostly go wherever the tides take them. Indeed, otters can usually be seen floating leisurely on their backs, cracking crabs on their chests and basking in life’s beautiful glow. Their priorities are different. Clearly otters, along with koalas, are the hippies of the animal kingdom. But unlike human hippies, who commonly have dreadlocks and poor hygiene, the animal hippies stay groomed and work when they have to. They just understand there’s more to life than building homes or constantly hunting. We could all learn something from the otter.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Ann Jagodzinski05-08-2012

    You are a hoot to be a great aunt of. I love your independent spirit and ability to see the world through your eyes and not someone else’s Keep writing. I’ve just planted my broccoli, but will buy cauliflower.

    Bill Bryson is an amazing writer.

    MAJ

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Sam Neumann | sam@samneumann.com | Boulder, CO