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Tripe Soup, by Jennifer Brizzi
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
My New Home
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: Movin' on up, to the east side of the web
Topic: food writing biz
Sorry for the extra click, but Tripe Soup has moved here, hosted by WordPress, in hopes of increasing traffic and user-friendliness. Read and comment!

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 1:18 PM EDT
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Friday, March 7, 2008
Nuts about teff
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: good good good
Topic: Cooking


Today I'm playing around with teff, a.k.a. t'ef, a tiny and vastly underrated Ethiopian grain that is crazy good and happens to be highly nutritious. In Ethiopia they grind it to make their staple pancake-like bread/tablecloth.

I want to spread the word about teff's fine qualities in a magazine article so I'm fooling around with flavor pairings to develop some recipes for dishes made with it. Usually I just simmer it for 15 minutes, one part teff to three parts water and a dash of salt, then douse it with maple syrup for a tasty stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. But I think it would be good as a sort of pilaf with poultry, in a soup, definitely with cookies. I figured that its unique nutty flavor would be enhanced by nuts, so this morning I toasted up an assortment of some I have hanging around the house--pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, to see what would go best.

My vote was for the hazelnuts. Pine nuts would probably be good, too, but mine were a bit past their prime, so not good. The pecans were excellent but I love pecans with everything--I would sprinkle them in the bath if I could. The walnuts didn't work, too assertive for teff's refined subtleties, the almonds pleasant but almost too mild to stand up to it. So on we go; teff hazelnut cookies anyone? I'll keep you posted.

* * *

Well, this is totally OT (off-topic) if I ever heard it, but tonight I'm going to go see the King of the Blues, B.B. King. Wee-haa!


Ethiopia also gave us coffee when frisky goats were discovered frolicking in a coffee patch, and the shepherd, er, goatherd, said, "I want to get me some of that stuff!"  This fascinating country also produced the Queen of Sheba, and much later, my beautiful son Marco (no, I did it before Angelina). So I'm grateful to the country for many reasons beyond their nutty teff.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 9:16 AM EST
Updated: Friday, March 7, 2008 11:05 AM EST
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Saturday, March 1, 2008
Cawl: a hearty Welsh stew
Mood:  hungry
Now Playing: I wish I could mail some of this to you, Ma!
Topic: Cooking

Every year on this date the Welsh celebrate St. David’s Day by sporting leeks on their caps and lapels, a tradition that dates to a sixth century battle against the Saxons when soldiers wore leeks in their helmets to cut down on friendly fire (actually sword slashes). You’ll find the leek in many Welsh dishes. I love them in this Cawl (pronounced "cowl"), a rustic, rib-sticking lamb stew often eaten by the Welsh to celebrate this day, and which I just whipped up for us to eat tonight, either by pure coincidence or psychologically suppressed on-purpose.

Here are the assembled vegetables awaiting surgery. Clockwise from top: leeks, white turnips, Yukon Gold potatoes,  carrots, and rutabaga.










Cawl Mamgu, or Granny Broth:
Welsh lamb and root vegetable stew

This delicious potage will fill your belly happily and sustain you through the rest of the winter. Traditionally it’s served with crusty bread and rich Welsh cheese, and in parts of the country the broth is served as a first course, the meat and veggies as the main. Cawl is best made ahead of time so the flavors will blend in the refrigerator overnight. You can start two days before you serve it, or the morning of the day before.  Serves 6-8.


3 lbs. lamb neck or shoulder pieces, on the bone
3 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola)
9-10 cups (2 ½ quarts) water
9 whole peppercorns
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 lb. white turnips (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into chunks about 1” wide
1 lb. rutabaga/yellow turnip/swede (about 1 small), peeled and cut into chunks about 1” wide
3 fat carrots, peeled and sliced 1” thick
3 sprigs fresh thyme
¾ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (about three medium), peeled and cut into chunks about 1” wide
1 lb. leeks (about 3/one bunch), root ends and dark green or wilted parts trimmed off, the remainder sliced lengthwise, rinsed well and sliced ½” thick
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat) parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Sprinkle lamb chunks evenly with 2 teaspoons of the salt and set aside.
2. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or thick-bottomed heavy pan. Brown meat on all sides, without crowding pan; this will take about three batches, depending on the size of your pan. When all meat is brown, return it to the pan with its drippings. Add water and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, skimming scum, then lower heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Let cool and chill in refrigerator three hours to overnight.
3. Skim off layer of fat that has risen to the top, then add the turnip, rutabaga, carrot and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook 1 hour. Add potatoes, leeks, parsley, remaining teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cook a half hour more. Vegetables should be tender at knifepoint and meat will have ceased to cling fiercely to the bone. Remove thyme sprigs and serve.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 3:52 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2008 9:34 PM EDT
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Monday, February 25, 2008
Blogs galore, and butter
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: yum yum yummy I got butter in my tummy
Topic: food writing biz

This new search thing lets you search blogs for recipes. Pretty cool. 

I see that Saveur magazine (my favorite magazine in the world) is celebrating my birthday month by featuring butter, my favorite food, in its March issue.  I can't wait to dig into it as soon as I can wrestle it away from my butter-loving hubby. Well, I guess my birthday month probably doesn't have that much to do with Saveur's timing...oh well...but I'm happy to see the luscious stuff finally get its due.

Are you a butter eater? An aficionado of fine margarines? A lover of spread? Click on Post Comment below and don't be shy.

Here's my own column on butter which saw print  November 30, 2006, in Ulster Publishing's newspapers:


Butter debauchery

"Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past."
--Old Dutch proverb

O wild, depraved and decadent butter, you are so creamy and so sinful. Years ago when the masses turned their backs on you for the sake of frugality, health and sensibility, I stayed staunchly by your side, keeping you constantly near, for purely hedonistic reasons. I just didn’t like the taste of margarine.

Now they’re saying that you’re not only tastier but better for us than margarine, that you’re a natural product free of trans-fats, preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilizers. Although there are still plenty of folks who prefer the new light trans-fat-free "spreads," I’ll stick to my butter, thanks, until they pry my cold dead fingers off those yellow sticks.

When the topic of garlic comes up, I’ve always said it’s my second favorite food, the first being butter. Butter is not really a food, you may argue, but a fat, a flavoring, but I can think of so few things it doesn’t enhance that I think it’s one of the finest foods anywhere. Is there any compliment better than “buttery”? To call a food that isn’t butter “buttery” or a piece of fabric or music or anything “buttery” is high praise indeed.

Love for butter is as basic as the sweet tooth we’re born with. All babies love it. When I was a kid there was always a stick on our family dinner table and my baby sister Katy used to grab it when no one was looking and stick fistfuls into her mouth.

Maybe it’s my northern European heritage that makes me batty for butter. Traditionally the peoples of the warmer Mediterranean climes looked down upon their barbarian neighbors to the north for being butter eaters. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a poultice rather than a food and butter didn’t keep well in the heat anyway. In Italy and France the countries are divided for the most part between the rich dairy dishes of the upper regions and the olive-oil-based dishes of the south.

Recently in a Manhattan supermarket I found nearly a dozen imported specialty butters from various parts of Europe. Although the idea of a “fresh” butter traveling across the ocean and sitting on a shelf for an unknown period of time did not prompt me to fork over the substantial cash for any of them, I do have memories of incredibly sweet unsalted butter on breakfast rolls and croissants in pensioni, B & B’s and petits auberges in Europe, butters I’ll take over any ice cream any day, butters that to top with fresh tart-sweet fruit jam seemed almost overkill (but I did it anyway).

The reason that that European butter is so good is not necessarily because it’s unsalted, as I once thought, or that the cows are special, which I’m sure they are, or that they eat special European grasses, which I’m sure they do, but that European butter has a higher butterfat content than our commercial butter generally does. By law our American butter must be at least 80% butterfat and so is usually just barely over that. In Europe the percentage is more like 85 or 86. Also, for more flavor many European butters are cultured, tweaked for more flavor by churning the cream more slowly and for longer and sometimes adding cultures and/or lactic acid.

Butter is what’s good about so many things, from simple lusty garlic bread to snails steamy with shallots, garlic, parsley and brandy. What’s skate?, what’s brains?, without brown butter, a butter cooked until its milk solids turn a toasty nutty brown. Its cousin black butter is a very dark brown, not black. The paler milder beurre blanc (white butter) is an emulsion of butter with wine or vinegar, and bercy butter has shallot, white wine, bone marrow, parsley and lemon juice. Then there’s lemony Hollandaise. A popular French technique chefs love is to “mount” a sauce with butter by finishing it with a flourish of butter at the end to add gloss, body and flavor.

More simply, a pat of butter is the only way to scramble an egg, as far as I’m concerned.   

And then there’s butter rum flavor and butter pecan ice cream. Butter in piecrust makes for best flavor but a less flaky crust than lard or shortening. It’s essential for the best cookies and cakes. There’s hot buttered popcorn that smells like the movies, whether you’re there or not, and homemade bread fresh from the oven slathered with butter. "Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts," said the late James Beard.

There are luscious compound butters spiked with herbs to dot on plain grilled meats or fish, or Indian butter chicken with ginger, garlic and spice. Niter kibbeh is an Ethiopian clarified spiced butter just as good on potatoes or rice as on the spicy exotic Ethiopian dishes that I love to cook. Smen is an aged Moroccan version.

Larousse Gastronomique suggests coating butter balls in breadcrumbs and deep-frying them to accompany poached fish. The equally decadent Italian-American Alfredo sauce is made merely of sick amounts of butter with cream and cheese. I’ll pass on that one. Recipes for mashed potatoes call for obscene amounts of butter, too, like two sticks to a pound of spuds or some such, a philosophy I don’t subscribe to, spiking mine with olive oil often, and using only a tablespoon or two of butter unless it’s a holiday.

I usually keep whipped salted butter in my fridge for toast, for easier spreading, plus sticks of unsalted butter for cooking, in order to control the salt content of my dishes, although it doesn’t keep as long as salted butter.
“Light” butter has water, gelatin or skin milk added. I don’t go there. Just use less. Ghee and clarified butters were invented in the absence of refrigeration to keep butter longer by removing the milk solids but they remove some flavor, too. They are great for sautéing, though, with their much higher smoking point.

There are the original butters before cow (butter happened thousands of years BC, the original made in goatskin pouches), like those of yaks, sheep, goats, mares, donkeys, camels, buffalos, water buffaloes, llamas and reindeer.

Unsalted butter can be stored in the freezer to keep better, but wherever it is it should be well wrapped to keep off flavors from getting in. Some swear by watery ceramic butter bells on the counter; some say they encourage mold. Some English people shell out 34 pounds for the ButterWizard, “the world’s first fully portable Temperature Controlled Butter Dish, which both heats and cools regardless of ambient temperature, ensuring your butter stays at the perfect temperature for spreading – anytime, anywhere.”

Although I often said in my foolish twenties that there was no such thing as too much sex or too much butter on a baked potato, I’ve since learned that a little bit (of butter, that is) can be just enough, disagreeing with butter-eating world record holder Donald Lerman who ate seven sticks in five minutes.

Naughty or nice, when it comes to the creamy spread for your December bagel be naughty and go for the butter. It’s holiday time, live extra large: buy a jewel for someone who deserves it, eat Krause’s chocolate ‘til you feel ill, eat three dozen escargots at Le Canard Enchainée or a fat tub of good butter from Ronnybrook. Whatever you do to be decadent, eat more butter.




Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 2:49 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2008 4:08 PM EST
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Sunday, February 17, 2008
Mood:  accident prone
Now Playing: Popunders? Unpoppedovers?
Topic: Cooking

Don't try to make breakfast before at least one cup of coffee. And after a wakeful night with a cough and sore throat.  

I left the egg out of the popovers this morning, and I don't know why I am now broadcasting my shame before the world. But oddly, the little hockey pucks were somehow golden brown even without the eggs, with that distinct popover flavor without the heft and puff. They were crispy on the outside and fluffy within, much better than I would have thought. I might even make them on purpose sometime, to soak up beefy pan drippings or savory braise juices.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 12:35 PM EST
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Friday, February 15, 2008
Horn tootin' and a simmering cephalopod
Mood:  happy
Topic: food writing biz

For the second year in a row, Greenbrier gave me a Special Mention in their annual scholarship contest towards attendance at their acclaimed conference for professional food writers. This one was for a Fred Thompson scholarship of $1000, where I didn't win but scored high and received a very nice congratulatory e-mail from Greenbrier founder and leader Toni Allegra. So next year I will have to try yet again, and in the meantime try to do some damn good foodwritin'.

* * *

Today I've been cooking octopus, in preparation for some queries to magazines on this oft-unpopular item, sweet and succulent as it is. I thawed, rinsed and drained a 2 and 1/2 pound critter, and although not as purple and curly raw as I wanted it to be, it was still pretty in a gnarly kind of way.


I seared it and it threw off a lot of liquid, turning curly and purple as a good octopus should. Then I simmered it in red wine, garlic, onion, olive oil and oregano, with a bay leaf and cinnamon stick thrown in, cooked it for an hour, then another hour until the lot was brown and thick and murky. Hubby cut it up while I was off interviewing a cook for a story, and then it got tossed with linguine. Sublime, no, but worth some work. I'll keep you posted.

P.S. I can't get this pic to be smaller on the page--technical difficulties--guess I'll have to rename this entry "Octoporn." With all those big fat tentacles, it's for octopus lovers only! 

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 2:24 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2008 12:53 PM EST
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Sunday, February 10, 2008
Me Hungry, Me Cook
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: A Clipping from the Brizzi Bulletin Board
Topic: Cooking

I found this on an internet message board in late 2005 and put it on the wall where I can see it often, because it always makes me laugh. A Google search reveals no author, so if it was you, stand up and take the credit.



Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 9:24 AM EST
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Monday, January 28, 2008
Unwrapping the Mysteries of the CIA
Mood:  hungry
Topic: food writing biz

I toured the CIA today. Lucky me, their Hyde Park campus is only 20 minutes from my house so I can go anytime I wanna. I haven't yet tried any of their popular restaurants other than the Apple Pie Cafe, but I've been for a graduation and a couple other events. I know about four of the teachers and a couple other employees, but no current students, as they ship 'em in and out pretty quick.

The atmosphere there is exciting, infectious. This was my second tour, the first about 11 years ago when we first moved to the area. The main building, Roth Hall, is gorgeous and high-ceilinged, in a former life a glamorous seminary. I love to peruse the amazing library, whose periodical collection was not as comprehensive today as I recall but maybe some of it was moved or they cut down on their subscriptions. They used to have every food magazine ever published (very useful for food writers), but I didn't see hide nor hair of Saveur, Gourmet or any of the biggies today. I was proud of myself in the bookstore, though, whose incredible and vast collection never fails to thrill me. I didn't buy anything, not even any of the seven-dollar cookbooks.

What I love best about "the Culinary," as we call it around here, is that it's all about food, every aspect of food. It's just food food all the time, kinda like my life. The tour made me want to don chef's whites and a toque and be a student there, stuffing as much knowledge into my brain as it will hold.

Food writers take note: an excellent source of summaries of current articles about food, with links, is at the ProChef SmartBrief newsletter, which you can have e-mailed to you daily. It's been an invaluable resource for me for keeping abreast of what's going on and what topics are being covered in newspapers and magazines.




Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 2:16 PM EST
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2008 2:45 PM EST
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Friday, January 25, 2008
High-brow Roadkill?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Eating
Check out the new, a great new site full of great food writing and fun stuff like Varmints, with recipes for beaver, raccoon, woodchuck and more! I try to be adventurous and once did sample squirrel stew at a party, but beaver?--I will have to work up to that...

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 9:07 AM EST
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2008 2:16 PM EST
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Thursday, January 24, 2008
It's official! I'm going to the IACP conference!
Mood:  celebratory
Now Playing: happiness, bliss, excitement
Topic: food writing biz

I'm so thrilled--I've decided to go to the IACP conference in New Orleans in April!!! Definitely cannot afford it but it seems worth it in terms of knowledge gained, contacts made, etc. And interesting, fascinating and fun. It doesn't look like I'll have a lot of time to soak in NOLA ambiance, as about 20 hours a day are scheduled for the four days I'm there, but it promises to be a wonderful experience. Emeril's gala is just too expensive for me, but I'll see scholar Jessica B. Harris, of whom I'm a big fan, and agent and media trainer Lisa Ekus, kind and good food writer John T. Edge (he wrote me a nice letter a couple years ago), and Mai Pham, who wrote Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, one of the all-time best books on Vietnam and its food.

And my  new friend Jessica Bard is going to the conference, too. Jessica is a way cool, sociable, delightful, and very talented chef, teacher, food writer and stylist for Fine Cooking and other magazines who just happens to live nearby. After a brief e-mail correspondence we finally met and had lunch together on Tuesday, it was a real treat to meet her.



Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 1:24 PM EST
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2008 8:17 AM EST
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I wanna go!! Please please please!
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: I promise to be good if I can go...
Topic: food writing biz

It's that time of year again--time for the annual conference of the IACP (which in my case stands for the International Association of Culinary Professionals, but there are also the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy, the International Association of Canine Professionals and the International Association of Chinese Pathologists. Really).

Yes, it's that time of year again, depending on where the conference is being held, for me to wish and want and long for something too expensive for me to justify going. I went in 2000 when it was in Providence, because I could drive there and had a friend to stay with. I met Julia Child and various other important food people and it was a wonderful experience, one big four-day high to be surrounded by thousands of other people fascinated with food. This year it will be in New Orleans in April and I'm dying to go hobnob with people just like me, plus an assortment of editors, agents, publishers and people passionate about food and the outrageous potpourri of New Orleans.

Oh, there just has to be a way... 

P.S. Happy Birthday, Melissa Brown! 


Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 10:27 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 10:50 AM EST
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Monday, November 12, 2007
Home with the kids
Mood:  blue
Now Playing: "sqwitz swackers" (Marco) and "I wish I was that soup so I could be warm" (Sofia)

A very odd thing is happening to me: a chronic digestive system illness (for which details have no place in a food blog) has come back to me after nine years with a vengeance. For the past few weeks I have no appetite, which means that I eat like a normal person instead of a pig who long ago burned out the wires on her full-ness meter. It's a very strange feeling to not be obsessed with food for a change, though, and I can't even bear to read about it or write about it, combing my giant collection of unread books for the rare volume unrelated to food. After losing lots of blood I don't have the energy or interest to even cook a meal, and so we've been living on take out for a while. Gorgeous fall vegetables are tragically rotting in the crisper drawer. Summoning up the energy and enthusiasm to write mouth-watering columns and articles on food seems beyond my capabilities as well.

I am glad to be eating way less but so ready for this to get better...sorry to bitch but you're the only one who will listen. 

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:53 AM EST
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Friday, October 19, 2007
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: more cooking demos
Topic: food writing biz

Lat year I swore off doing cooking demonstations, because the preparation was too overwhelming. But like the parties I swore off a few years ago and still throw once a year or so anyway, I'm glad I didn't give up doing cooking demos. They really are a lot of fun, albeit stressful for an introvert such as myself, but it's tons of fun to spout off and share my love of cooking with other people.  I never used to think I could do cooking demos because I didn't think I could cook and talk at the same time, but if I find that if I plan every last detail ahead of time, I don't screw up more than once or twice per demo!

This is my third season of doing demos at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, during the Dutchess County Fair and now this weekend at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, where I'm limited to lamb and sheep cheese, which is fine with me, because I adore both. Tomorrow at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. I'll be doing a pecan-crusted rack of lamb, accompanied by circles of acorn squash with sage butter. Here I am last year, on the upper left, doing either Lambie Pies or Lamb on a Stick--I did both last year, with two recipes during each demo. Be there or be2.




Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 1:27 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2007 1:55 PM EDT
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Thursday, October 4, 2007
Curly & Purple
Mood:  chatty
Topic: food writing biz

I love unnaturally curly veggies like the okra in this column, Okra ode, or this eggplant I picked up at my CSA yesterday, along with these gorgeous purple tomatillos.

My website remains, after two years, a work in progress, as I continue to learn and struggle with it. I just learned how to put some frames and tables in it, in an attempt to clean it up and make it look better, but it still won't do what I want it to. I'm trying to move this blog over to the site too so everything is in one place. I doubt it will ever be perfect.

Thinking of taking a web design course to get me out of the house and  into civilization. I found myself envious of my son this morning when I dropped him off at his bus stop, that he would see so many people today. It's glorious to have 7 1/2 hours a day without the kids so I can get stuff done, but other than my husband's visits home at lunchtime, it's kinda lonely.

Two weeks til my next cooking demos, at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival--think I'll wrestle a rack of lamb, but not sure just how yet... 



Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 11:22 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2007 11:38 AM EDT
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Sunday, August 19, 2007
Cooking Demo time again...
Mood:  silly
Topic: food writing biz

This week at the Dutchess County Fair I'm demoing cast iron cooking--hope the folks over at that booth that sells cookware won't be pissed! Audiences have often asked me why I use all that cast iron instead of something more cheffy. I'm just crazy for cast iron; watch for my column Friday about why. I'll be doing the same demo Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 a.m.

Mostly Traditional Southern Fried Chicken

One-Bowl North/South Cornbread


Be there or be2.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 1:28 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2007 12:38 PM EDT
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