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Did Wan really sneak in a Spinal Tap theme without us knowing it?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly space for where clue analysis meets the need to make puerile jokes.

Big news!  It’s been a long time since the first edition of the Lessener Crossword.  Well it appears in the next few weeks you should be seeing the Lessener Crossword #2 and #3 (from different setters) coming up really soon.  Excited?  You should be!  If you are a setter interested in contributing to the Lessener series please contact me.  There’s no pay, very few readers, and I’m only taking puzzles that would not be accepted elsewhere because of language, smut, and political incorrectness.  I’m also a shitty editor.

OKeydokey – what have we here?  Wan!  I messed up on the last Wan crossword, so hopefully better luck this time.  Food, food and more food – misprints, replacements, and something to highlight.  Let’s solve, shall we?

Wan has denied us not only a 1 across, but a 2 across as well, and I could not see 3 across for the life of me, so a big fail there!  In fact there was no luck at all on the clues until 22 across where cricketball comes into play with the OPENER.

This was a challenging solve – it took a while to get around that the substitutions to make the dishes were often checked by a crossing answer (the TUNE/PANOCHA crossing was where I finally figured that out), and then after realizing it was the original misprints and not the corrections we were meant to be paying attention to, things started to fall into place.  With NAPAKOS as misprints, SPANAKOPITA came immediately to mind.  When you grow up in Melbourne (the city with more Greeks than Athens) you get to know your Greek food well, and I am a big fan of the spinach and feta pastries.  Rather nice than in my now meat-free lifestyle I can still enjoy dolmas and spanikopita.

Armed with knowing some of the things I’m looking for – SPANAKOPITA in the grid and most likely SPINACH as some of the replacement letters, things really started to fall into place – it looked like 26 was going to be MANGO, which means likely the A is the substitution – yep, it’s MUNGO – ditto ONION coming from INION. and RACE becoming RICE making 34 MERIL, as well as the unchecked change of CAPES for CAKES.  This also helped with the last few misprints, the last of all being SCOTCH becoming SCORCH for CHAR.

My discards did have SPINACH in them, and the last two are UP TO… well that’s in the title, innit?

So I need something that replaces SPINACH – in Bradfords there’s ORACH(E) – and without the E there it is in the grid.

UP TO gives ABOUT – highlight the two in the grid… and it appears this grid, like Nigel Tufnel’s amp, goes UP TO 11!  Whether this was the intended end point of the puzzle or not, I’m going to claim that’s what it was.

my working grid for Listener 4416, Up to 10 Items? by Wan

I just saw that the solution is out and there’s no mention of Spinal Tap, but I’m going to stick to my guns here!  Tricky tricky puzzle, but once the main dish was sorted out, it came together nicely, rather unlike my cooking.

2016 tally:  31-2-5

Feel free to tell me that Wan should have been executed for carrying more than 10 items in the express lane, and see you next week when Hedge-sparrow invites us on to a ship.