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Being the kid on the block with free acess to the endless supply of junk food that stuffed my kitchen cupboards certainly earned me a few extra childhood friends. But, in the end, my lack of dietary restraint turned me into nothing more than a plump, discolored, cross-eyed, lethargic hassenpfeffer. It was gross. My inevitable food backlash led to veganism and the discovery of what was, to me, the great paradox of the vegan diet: To explore a greater variety of foods, I had to limit what I ate. So it’s always encouraging to come across a cookbook such as Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. Klein uses the region’s traditional Orthodox Lenten fast, in which no animal products are consumed, as a starting point in her book of more than 300 recipes that showcase fresh ingredients and healthy restraint. I hope she brings some samples when she speaks at 4 p.m. at Olsson’s Books and Records, 7647 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda. Free. (301) 652-3336. (Chad Molter)