Archive for Worth a Fork

Approved by chowhounds

After a passel of cooking shows on the Food Network, a defense thereof:

[T]he reason I like these shows is probably the same reason a lot of people dislike or deride them: they are unrealistically ideal. The people in them seem to have fairly perfect lives — they must have a lot of money; their houses are always clean; they live near good places to buy food so they don’t have to fight the crowds at the Wal-mart and they don’t have to try to find the least-squashed-looking cauliflower in the produce section there. And you know what? I want that fantasy. I want to believe that someone out there doesn’t lead a life like mine, which feels like it’s about thirty percent making it up as I go along, twenty percent having no idea what I’m doing, and fifty percent fearful that I’m actually doing it all wrong. And I know (intellectually, again) that the people don’t have perfect lives — surely Ree Drummond and her husband argue sometimes, or their kids aren’t as sweet and cooperative as we see on the show, and Ina Garten probably gets angry at times or maybe has that one flakey friend who agrees to do something for her but never does — but emotionally, I want to believe there are people out there who don’t seem to have so many big messes in their lives.

I can’t imagine Ina Garten angry, at least not without the accompaniment of apocalyptic-looking storm clouds just above her brow.

On that Life Ratio, I figure there’s a 50-percent chance that I’m doing it all wrong, but I figure the rest of the species routinely faces basically the same unfavorable odds, which takes some (not all) of the sting out of it.

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The lowest form of taco

Yet it’s always in demand, and has been for many years:

[W]hen it comes to Jack in the Box tacos, there are two kinds of people: those who think they’re disgusting, and those who agree they’re disgusting but are powerless to resist them.

I ate a ton, or at least many kilograms, of these things during my sojourn in Southern California; I hadn’t thought about them for some time, but since Jack has opened up half a mile from me — second-closest fast-food chain, behind Popeye’s and just ahead of Whataburger — my mind keeps drifting back to an earlier, greasier time.

(Via Aaron M. Renn.)

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How smart are these cookies?

Or are they just easily manipulated?

I’ll bet someone was told to Stuf it.

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Download a Thin Mint

An author I follow on Twitter came up with this:

“Digitalcookie”? Yep. I tried it out. At your option, the Scout will deliver in person, or you can have them shipped to you for $9.95 (minimum order of four boxes). This Scout being in northeast Ohio, I don’t think she’s going to be wandering through my neighborhood any time soon.

I duly informed her mom:

Which is, I learned a long time ago, exactly what I would expect to happen. At the time, the little device on the Scout page indicated the sale of two boxes; I brought it up to seven, and as of this morning it had reached 32.

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Something fyshy

I suppose this was inevitable:

Tofuna Fysh, a small, 18-month-old Portland, Oregon, company marketing faux tuna fish, “fysh” sauce, and “fysh” oil, recently received a cease-and-desist letter over his trademark application for the name and a jingle on the company website. Founder Zach Grossman recognizes he’s probably going to have to give up the trademark, but he’d dearly like to hold on to the jingle.

Which may be why Tofuna’s current site contains no mention of “Chickpea of the Sea.” As for the jingle, I don’t think it’s that close to the classic Chicken of the Sea jingle, though I am not a lawyer and it’s been years since I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.

“We have had a productive dialogue,” a Chicken of the Sea representative said. “We hope to amicably resolve the issue in a timely manner.”

Oh, Tofuna also makes “Crab Fakes,” which to me sound better than the “Krab” being pushed from seafood counters all over the place.

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It is, after all, the season

An unusual admission these days:

I like fruitcake. I am the only one in my family who does. The girls think it is gross. The boys don’t care because it isn’t pizza or beer. But I like it, so when we were at Costco yesterday I picked one up. $16, which is kind of a chunk of money, but each fruitcake contains about a zillion calories, so each calorie costs 16,000 zillionths of a cent, which means it’s like the cheapest food in the world. All you have to do is dole it out slowly.

It helps that eating it fast is sort of difficult.

An old friend of mine, long since moved away, was an expert at the fine art of fruitcakery. If Costco’s are worth five bucks a pound, hers were worth at least twenty.

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Gesundheit

Oh. “Cashew.” Sorry I misunderstood you.

My usual nut supplier advised today that cashew prices would rise at least $1 a pound in 2017. (They currently sell a five-pound sack of raw whole cashews for $51.) Apparently this is why:

Get ready for some cashew sticker shock.

The global popularity of the kidney-shaped nut has been growing faster than any other tree nut — even almonds. Demand jumped 53 percent since 2010 and outpaced production in at least four of the past seven years, industry data show. Now the worst drought in a century for Vietnam, the largest exporter, is raising concern that supplies will be even tighter in a market valued at $5.2 billion.

A lack of rain in the once-fertile Mekong Delta and elsewhere in Vietnam has cut output of its major agricultural exports including rice, black pepper, coffee and seafood. This year’s cashew harvest fell 11 percent, and domestic prices jumped by as much as a third to an all-time high, a growers’ group estimates. That spells trouble for buyers in the U.S., by far the biggest importer.

It’s already trouble in Vietnam:

The domestic price of raw nuts has jumped to 52,000 dong ($2.33) a kilogram, the highest on record, from 38,000 dong at the start of the year, according to the cashew association.

That’s a lot of dong.

Fortunately, I use relatively few cashews.

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What the hay?

Somehow this seems disquieting:

A Dutch restaurant is now serving up some stallion with its scallions.

The offbeat food truck Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier, which translates to “The Unwanted Animal Kitchen,” now supplies its “My Little Pony Burger” year round to Babbe Hengeveld, a chef who runs her own restaurant Food Guerilla, reports Vice Munchies.

Keuken van het Ongewenst Die has been serving the burger periodically for years and the patty itself is made from the meat of butchered, aging horses that have worked at a local amusement park, Slagharen.

Many years ago, there was a small classified ad in the Oklahoman asking for “50 Head of Poor Horses” every week. They didn’t say that said equines were going to end up in sandwiches.

For what it’s worth, the Pony Burger is not a big seller:

“They don’t sell well because people do feel bad about the idea of eating horse,” Hengeveld told Vice. For some, horses will always be seen as pets in the same way dogs are. Cows and chickens, in many Western cultures, aren’t kept as pets so they’re okay for food.

“Will trade,” said the anguished dad in another classified ad, “two young ewes with friends and personality for two anonymous lambs for the freezer.” Or something like that.

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Tony the Tiger recoils in horror

This ain’t your pa’s Post Toasties:

One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes

Well, let’s see what we have here:

Honest cereal made from the corn nature designed. Non-GMO, non-hybridized grain, sprouted to boost vitamins and minerals, ease digestibility. Sweetened with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar from Bali!

Actually, that doesn’t sound half bad. An Amazon retailer sells this for $12.99, about quadruple the price of Kellogg’s, but it took me about 30 seconds to find places selling it for half that or less. According to Vitacost, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is a mere $6.19. That won’t buy you a whole lot of Grape-Nuts.

(Via John Salmon.)

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All you need is one

Brent Scher has come up with the Top Ten reasons Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, is a swell choice for Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. We’ll just recount one of them here:

And that was Number Ten.

Ed Driscoll, who posted the link at Instapundit, cracks in classic Letterman style: “From the home office in the third booth in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Carl’s Jr.” According to Yelpers, the Ardmore Carl’s Jr. has closed.

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The sin of gluteny

Joe Bob Briggs is going to explain this, just this once:

Gluten is a Latin word meaning “glue” and it’s the substance that makes dough elastic so we can shape it into bread, noodles, grits, tortillas, cakes, soy sauce, pies, beer, pretzels, macaroni, bagels, candy, cereal, croutons, lunch meat, salad dressing, potato chips, soup, and Belgian waffles. You might have noticed something about that particular food group. It’s stuff that tastes good.

But because we live in a masochistic bulimic anorexic food-hating universe of nutzoid crusaders who want to sell us colon scrapers and Lake Titicaca Quinoa Seeds, we have to get rid of it precisely because it tastes good.

What’s that? Oh, yes. Celiac disease. I know someone who has it. Probably so do you. That leaves, what, 198 people we know who don’t?

Then again, I’m having a snit these days because I have to push around a metal frame to get anywhere and I can’t force people to open the door for me.

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24-carrot bunk

And make sure you know what the doctor himself eats. This showed up in the spam bucket yesterday:

Spam header: Doctor Eating Carrots Makes You Fat

This is the pitch:

Did you know eating carrots and other vegetables can cause you to gain weight, and linked to severe obesity?

That’s according to a shocking medical report that’s just been released to the public.

In it, several top scientists say that we’ve been getting weight loss “all wrong” for the last 30+ years…

And that if you really want to burn fat, drop pounds, and be healthier…

There are three major changes to your diet you need to make right now.

These new dietary changes will surprise you.

Never eat these vegetables if you want to lose weight.

What? And give up my night vision?

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And now it’s gone

Rob O’Hara remembers a favorite restaurant:

The restaurant’s name fit. The building was made of wood that smelled like it had been cut the day before. It had a green metal roof, rocking chairs on the porch, and a view of the Smoky Mountains off to the south. The sign out front said “MOUNTAIN LODGE RESTAURANT” and had a picture of a lodge at the base of a mountain range. That kind of summed the place up.

Inside, a dozen middle-aged waitresses were in charge. Every one of them had long, straight hair, homemade dresses that looked like patchwork quilts, and accents as thick as the coffee. They were the opposite of the cookie-cutter waitresses I often encounter, the ones that are trained to touch customers 2.6 times per meal and sign checks with a heart over the letter “i” to increase their tip. These women were real. It wouldn’t surprise me if every waitress there went by two names, like Peggy Sue, or Mary Jo.

That was the summer of ’15. Unfortunately:

On November 28, 2016, the raging wildfires in Tennessee moved into the southern tip of Gatlinburg and burned the Mountain Lodge Restaurant to the ground.

I’d almost certainly have liked that place.

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Also for use with ganders

Brianna Bailey of The Oklahoman turned up a bottle of this exotic elixir at GW Zoo in Wynnewood:

PETA BBQ sauce

No trademark lawyers on hand, so far as I know.

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Embrace the gaffe

Jessica Simpson, 2003, on Chicken of the Sea brand tuna: “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?”

In 2016:

The owners of the Chicken of the Sea brand obviously aren’t taking umbrage.

Sidelight: In 1978, the Dacron Republican-Democrat (the National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody) carried an ad for the Food Clown supermarket, which was offering canned chicken under the “Tuna of the Land” name.

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I blame the special sauce

The inventor of the Big Mac has crossed the bar, or maybe the bun, at the age of 98:

Michael “Jim” Delligatti came up with the iconic McDonald’s burger nearly 50 years ago.

The franchise owner from Uniontown, Pennsylvania put the stacked treat on sale at one of his restaurants in 1967.

Of course, it’s especially wonderful that someone named Michael would be called “Jim.” (Consider the case of my one surviving brother, James, who was named after our Uncle Pete.)

Delligatti’s creation irritated the McDonald’s brass, but it sold like the very dickens at all 48 of his stores, and McDonald’s eventually adopted it system-wide.

One thing has changed since I was manning Mickey D’s grill in 1970:

Big Mac Sauce is delivered to McDonald’s restaurants in sealed canisters designed by Sealright, from which it is meant to be directly dispensed using a special calibrated “sauce gun” that dispenses a specified amount of the sauce for each pull of the trigger. Its design is similar to a caulking gun.

That might have been almost fun for seventeen-year-old me, toiling in Greaseville for a buck ninety-five an hour.

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In lieu of gluten

One test lab has turned up signs of glyphosate, the Monsanto herbicide sold as Roundup, in rather a lot of foods:

Independent testing on an array of popular American food products found many samples contained residue levels of the weed killer called glyphosate, leading the nonprofit organization behind the testing to call for corporate and regulatory action to address consumer safety concerns.

The herbicide residues were found in cookies, crackers, popular cold cereals and chips commonly consumed by children and adults, according to Food Democracy Now and the group’s “Detox Project,” which arranged for the testing at the San Francisco-based Anresco lab. Anresco uses liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), a method widely considered by the scientific community and regulators as the most reliable for analyzing glyphosate residues. The groups issued a report Monday [pdf] that details the findings.

Among those findings:

The tests conducted by Anresco were done on 29 foods commonly found on grocery store shelves. Glyphosate residues were found in General Mills’ Cheerios at 1,125.3 parts per billion (ppb), in Kashi soft-baked oatmeal dark chocolate cookies at 275.57 ppb, and in Ritz Crackers at 270.24 ppb, according to the report. Different levels were found in Kellogg’s Special K cereal, Triscuit Crackers and several other products. The report noted that for some of the findings, the amounts were “rough estimates at best and may not represent an accurate representation of the sample.”

And this means what, exactly?

The nonprofit behind the report said that concerns about glyphosate comes as research shows that Roundup can cause liver and kidney damage in rats at only 0.05 ppb.

Well, that settles it. No more Cheerios for my rats.

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Worse than a wash

First, the good news:

The McRib is back at McDonald’s but only at select locations. Fortunately, you won’t only be left to call or drive around in search of it this time around as the company has put out an official free McRib locator smartphone app.

Now, the bad news:

Unfortunately for Android users, currently it’s only available for iOS off of the iTunes store. You can find it here.

The universe continues to find ways to screw me over.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Valley of the jolly

Once an icon, everywhere an icon:

Tickles the Niblets, it does.

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It’s just a substitute

But it may be cute, now that I think about it.

One of my regular items on the Walmart grocery run is a cheap cooked-ham product supplied by Hormel, deli sliced, for about four bucks a pound, there being some days in the week when nothing but a Dagwoodesque sandwich will do. This past weekend they apparently were out of the stuff, and requested (at curbside) permission to substitute, describing the suggested replacement as “Hormel Boneless Half Ham, Deli Sliced.” I was fine with that, since the price, as per Walmart policy, was the same $3.93.

And then I got it home. It was an actual half ham. By Hormel. A Cure 81 half ham. Worth about $13 at retail.

Maybe I should forget the sandwiches and just glaze the darn thing.

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The sauce remains special

McDonald’s, constantly tinkering with its menu during this period of uncertain growth, has come up with a Bigger Mac:

The Grand Mac, as its name suggests, is larger than the Big Mac. The Grand Mac will include two patties that together weigh in at one-third of a pound before cooking, two slices of American cheese, special sauce, lettuce, minced onions and pickles, and is served on a larger sesame seed bun. The two patties in the original Big Mac total one-fifth of a pound.

On the other hand, you may not want so much Mac, and here, too, McDonald’s has you covered:

The Mac Jr. has one patty and skips the middle bun. McDonald’s said the single-layer Mac. Jr. has a bigger beef patty, yet is easier to eat on the go.

I have no idea if these will be offered in Paris, and if so, what they might be called.

(Via Fark.)

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Extortion alert

Supercriminal makes off with a 20-percent premium:

Justice has been served for a Farragut High School student after his suspension for buying an extra chicken nugget in the lunch line was overturned.

Carson Koller received the one-day suspension on Monday for buying the extra nugget.

Koller — a senior, Eagle Scout and the captain of the band’s drum line — was suspended for theft of property after he took six chicken nuggets from the lunch line instead of the usual five, to his mother’s outrage.

Mom was indeed wroth:

“How is it theft if he paid for it?” Koller’s mother, Carrie Koller Waller, wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s food. FOOD!!! Not weapons. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Not cheating on a test … I am shaking my head over this and not sure what to do. Laugh, punish, argue, dress him up as a nugget bandit, or let it go.”

For what it’s worth, the bottom of the chicken-nugget pyramid — a Banquet sub-meal with a handful of French fries, $1 at Walmart — contains a full six.

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Canonical snack

Between meals yesterday: not even close to a handful of Organic Raw Walnuts ($4.85 for 3.5 ounces from Tierra Farm, Valatie, New York). First thought: how much is that per pound? (A shade over $22.) More amusing was this warning on the bottom:

“Contains tree nuts. May contain shell fragments.”

I knew some guys in the Army who seemed to be nuts, though it never occurred to me to ask if they contained shell fragments.

Also in the shipment: dried apple rings, and two varieties of raisins, one of them covered in dark chocolate.

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As originally scheduled

Even though some small chain eatery secured a trademark on the term “Taco Tuesday,” it’s become a tradition of sorts all over the nation plus Canterlot High School. It occurred to me more than once while I was hospitalized that I wasn’t in any position to observe this particular tradition, and hadn’t been since mid-June. Came the first of November, and dammit, I decided, I’m going to have a Taco Tuesday.

I’d done this often enough in the past to have developed a routine, and at its peak it was possible for me to dish up twelve decently-stuffed tacos for somewhere around nine bucks. Not that I have any business eating 12 tacos, but reducing recipes is so disheartening. After four months out of practice, I hadn’t forgotten anything; but my wondrously annoying mobility issues made the production, which requires lots of movement around the kitchen, more difficult than I imagined, and cleanup, never fun, was even less so.

I admit to one shortcut: instead of slicing sections off a head of iceberg lettuce, I bought a bag of pre-shredded, and used about 40 percent of it. (Other veggies and trimmings were handled in the traditional manner.) This pushed the batch price closer to $10, but I spent nearly $10 yesterday at Popeye’s, and you’re not hearing me complain about them. Still, it may be a while before I try this again: it certainly won’t be next Tuesday, unless I suddenly take a turn for the better, which strikes me as highly unlikely.

This would be the ideal time to serve up Spike Jones’ 1956 single “16 Tacos,” were it out there to be served up. Alas, it is not.

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Everything in balance

And that’s the important thing, right?

(Via Steve Lackmeyer.)

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Temporary vegetative state

It’s Morgan Freeberg vs. the vegetables, and it’s a standoff:

The plastic bags on rolls they hang over the vegetables. What a disgrace. You peel them off and then you open them … and open them and open them and open them. One stinking bag, you struggle and struggle, while the clock ticks. A minute, two, three … five … to pry open your plastic bag for the damn green onions. Then do it again for the artichokes. While this is going on, a little old lady parks her cart in front of the artichokes so she can get some kale. I’m left leaning over her cart to try to retrieve artichokes … pretty sure I ended up with the two scrawniest.

On the upside, she didn’t slip any kale into his cart.

I historically — by which I mean “before my current period of enforced clumsiness” — have had little trouble with the bags, though finding the little twist tie to close up a bag is too often problematic.

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A chili forecast

H. Allen Smith, on the deadly serious subject of chili, as quoted here in 2005:

Mr. [Frank X.] Tolbert of Dallas, who appears to be spokesman for the group called the International Chili Appreciation Society, declares that acceptable chili should contain no tomatoes, no onions, and no beans. This is a thing that passeth all understanding, going full speed. It offends my sensibility and violates my mind. Mr. Tolbert criticizes Lyndon Johnson’s chili recipe because it leaves out beef suet and includes tomatoes and onions. Yet the President’s chili contains no beans. To create chili without beans, either added to the pot or served on the side, is to flout one of the basic laws of nature. I’ve been told that when I was a baby and it came time to wean me, I was fed Eagle Brand Milk with navy beans frappéd into it. Thereafter, all through childhood and adolescence, I ate beans three for four times a week. If Chili Bill, back there in Illinois, had served his chili without beans, I would surely have deserted him and bought chocolate sodas for my lunch.

Roberta X, not so far from Illinois, explains this further:

Tam and people in the southwestern U.S. look askance at what we call chili up here in soybean-and-corn country. It’s a flavorful stew with ground beef, canned tomatoes, red kidney beans, onion, a little chili powder and, typically, elbow macaroni. I skipped the pasta and added a small can of mild green chilis, some hot Italian sausage with the beef, a single fresh tomato along with the canned, and good dark chili powder. It’s still nothing a Texan would call chili, so I put the word in quotes or name it by describing the contents, in order to avoid a long conversation on what does and does not constitute chili. In truth, “chili” is whatever you call chili, usually a red stew with meat, much as “science fiction” is whatever science fiction readers read, usually about the future.

Which is true, I suppose, even in Cincinnati.

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Picky eaters

When I was growing up, we had essentially two choices at dinner time: Take It or Leave It. I suspect this would have gone over well in that era:

So there.

Ball Park, incidentally, has introduced a flash-frozen hamburger patty, which I found pretty decent even when microwaved.

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Bet you can’t eat just two

For one thing, there’s only one chip per package, and that package sells for $4.99:

Paqui Carolina Reaper Madness tortilla chip

There is, of course, a reason for this:

That’s because this particular snack is spiced with fearsome Carolina Reaper peppers, widely touted as the hottest variety on Earth, topping the Scoville Heat Chart at 2.2 million SHUs.

As I noted during my Summer of Bland Hospital Food, the jalapeño can’t even manage 10,000 SHUs.

Said a tester at Adweek:

It was like a religious experience, mainly because our tongue was on fire. And that accursed conflagration was reaching down down down into our digestive depths, twisting us sideways/inside-out/round-and-round with searing waves of pepper-powered pain.

For twenty whole minutes.

I note for record that this torturous tortilla chip is certified kosher (by the Orthodox Union) and gluten-free.

(Via American Digest.)

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Point missed by several centimeters

I don’t expect the Ford dealer down the street to sell me a new Subaru. And I’m pretty sure this is comparably silly:

Irvine-based In-N-Out Burger is the target of a petition that demands the fast-food burger institution add a meat-free meal to its menu.

Launched last week on change.org, the petition by Washington D.C.-based Good Food Institute said the burger chain has been “letting its fans down by failing to serve anything that would satisfy a burger-loving customer who wants a healthy, humane, and sustainable option.”

Au contraire. This is exactly what the fans want: not to have to deal with anyone who uses the word “sustainable” unironically. Do I expect the local vegan shop — or, for that matter, the nearest halal restaurant, which is closer by — to fix me a proper sausage biscuit? Of course not.

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