Fritter - A Pantry Blog

The Spice Route

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

How we cook and what we cook are the subject of much discussion when we sit down to plan our community dinners.

Our classes cover a wide array of cuisines, techniques, and styles, so I've always wanted our dinners to feel like they belong to us. At this point it's fair to say we have a style, built largely on the early days when Kim and I were growing as chefs together. We both like food that is layered, colorful, and filled with textures, but we also like our food to feel casual and approachable. Messy even. I take my time writing out the menu descriptions, in hopes of sharing how excited we are about each dish, and what we think it will taste like (because we haven't ACTUALLY developed the recipes yet), while also hoping that no one on the other end is rolling their eyes with every adjective.

After 5 1/2 years of community dinners, we've been finding ourselves a little itchy. Our geographic roots are clearly in the Pacific Northwest, but our family has grown to include more voices, and with that, more flavors. We tested the waters last spring with a Japanese-inspired dinner that triggered several long discussions about what it means for the Pantry to give a nod to Asian flavors. We certainly don't harbor illusions that we can cook Japanese food better than the chefs in Japan, so we searched for a way to maintain our own voice with those new ingredients. It was a smashing success (if we do say so ourselves) and we followed it up with a Vietnamese-inspired dinner last summer, and then an Indian-inspired dinner this February. We called it "the Spice Route", in a nod to the journey all these fantastic ingredients make as they find their way to our plates:

Papadum with cilantro avocado mousse and pickled mango
Coconut-chickpea fries with caramelized onion and Madras curry aioli
Mini crumpets with spicy carrot jam and crème fraîche

Roasted cauliflower with turmeric-coriander cream
Lime, cilantro, and fried onions

Spicy gunpowder prawns
Sweet potato pancakes, cilantro yogurt, savoy cabbage slaw

Tamarind lamb shanks with Nepalese curry paneer purée and toasted coconut
Ginger-braised black lentils with carrot, celeriac, and mustard greens

Coconut rice pudding with fresh mango
Pink peppercorn-spiced caramel sauce

I got my first taste of Indian food around the age of 21, on my first trip to London. I fell so head-over-heels in love with that first meal that I refused to eat Indian food again for at least a year, because I was so afraid it wouldn't live up to what I remembered (oh to be that young and romantic about food again!). I was finally convinced to give it another go while visiting New York, and then likely ate Indian food once a week in the years that followed. I love the colors, the richness, the heat, everything about it. So when we decided to host an Indian-inspired meal at the Pantry, I set the bar pretty high. This month's dinner was led by Jay, our newest chef, who came to us with a resume that included heavyweights like Gabrielle Hamilton and Renee Erickson. It was his first time in charge of a dinner, and well, I didn't make it easy. It took several rounds of recipe testing to hit the bullseye on each dish, but boy did we. We served this dish during our standing appetizer course, and I might have been given the stink-eye for how many times I went back for more. It was worth it.

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Avocado Mousse with Pickled Mango

2 cups of mousse
  • Pickled Mango
  • 2 cups peeled semi-ripe mango, cut into small cubes (from about 1 mango)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly ground
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, lightly ground
  • 2 teaspoons red chile flakes
  • Avocado Cilantro Mousse
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches cilantro, washed and chopped (stems too)
  • 4 medium avocados, split, pitted and scraped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • As many papadums as you like.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

I’m not going to lie, these posts are getting harder and harder to write.

I frankly don’t have a lot to say about soup at the moment, so let’s just get in there and talk about the state of our country.

Being born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama meant that I grew up keenly aware of racial tension. All around us were reminders of the Civil Rights movement: the church where King preached, the Capitol steps where the Selma march ended, the Maya Lin Civil Rights Memorial, the defunct bus system that didn’t survive the boycott, the humiliating public schools that were defunded after desegregation, the all-white private schools that were created as a back door to re-segregation, and the racist slurs that slipped out of my parents’ mouths without anyone noticing. So as far back as I can remember, I struggled to make sense of the complicated history that makes up the current Southern reality, and searched for ways to be a better citizen than many of those who came before me.

But it was probably during my college years that I started to really connect the dots about my immediate family and the timeline of the Civil Rights movement. When we studied that period in school, and even when we talk about it now, it feels so distant and abstract – a faraway time that’s hard to imagine or relate to. And while yes, it was before I was born, both of my parents were in junior high school when the Montgomery public schools were desegregated, and my grandparents were as old as I am now. That means they were cognizant of the fight for equal rights happening right in their backyards. And while I’ll never understand the nuances of their positions on equal rights, I do know that not one member of my family felt the call to march.

My grandmother, who had more of a hand in raising me than either of my parents, cannot explain this chapter of her life. It has taken most of my adult life for me to come to reconcile the person I know her to be – someone who took me road-tripping all over the country, who constantly peppered me with advice about doing the right thing, who opened her home to me when I could no longer live with my mother – with the person that my young militant mind would likely be angry at, for not standing up and fighting. I love her more than anyone I have known or ever will know, but I don’t know how to explain away that indifference. And while I understand how easy it can be to ignore truths that are staring us in the face, I cannot imagine not fighting this administration, this proposed wall on our border, this ban on Muslim immigration, this horrible display of ignorance and fear. So many years ago I promised myself that if there ever was a moment to march, I would be there, no matter the effort or cost. Immediately after the election, I snapped up a plane ticket, canceled a class I was scheduled to teach on inauguration weekend, and made my first-ever trip to our nation’s capital.

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

I was so extremely proud to have marched with over 3 million people from around the world, in protest of the election of the most repulsive man possible. A man who admits to sexually assaulting women. A man who makes fun of the disabled and those wounded in war. A man who is a known racist, who thinks Mexican Americans are rapists, and who thinks Muslims deserve fewer rights. An incurious man who places no value on decency, and who thinks intelligence and education are overrated. A man whose ego is so fragile that the slightest challenge sends him into a full temper tantrum. A man who seeks to punish those who disagree with him. A man whose sanity is in question. The Civil Rights fight of our grandparents generation has grown to include so many corners of our beautifully diverse country, and I am ready to fight to preserve that diversity.

I arrived to a city taken over by pink knit hats and Make America Great Again caps, and fought the urge to size up everyone I saw, to draw the line and find out which side they were on. It felt so right to be there, standing up for what is already great about this country, yet I couldn’t wait to return to my big blue bubble where I could hide from that specific kind of diversity. The relief upon returning lasted approximately 24 hours — and this constant swinging between despair and inspiration is exhausting. We’re now only ten days in and already that weekend in DC feels like a microcosm of what our whole country now feels like. On one side we have a president signing executive orders that will do nothing to help our national security and economy, that will only punish innocent people that many of our fellow citizens have deemed scary by virtue of nothing more than their race, religion, or country of origin. We have Republican politicians remaining silent, alongside huge swaths of our Christian leaders. And on the other side we have a large portion of the population screaming “no!,” running into the streets to protest, and preparing to fight like hell. I am both broken and made whole by my fellow Americans.

So that’s where I’m at. This week I spent my days reading the news voraciously, taking walks to look at the mountains and calm myself, researching the best use of my time, money, and the Pantry’s table, and feeling overwhelmed with how to be impactful. I spent my evenings teaching classes, joining with my neighbors, who all have the same wild-eyed look, laughing and eating cake, feeling so thankful for and proud of our community. The yo-yo of emotions is dizzying, but I suspect it’s what we all need to get through this. One of the many bits of my advice my grandmother used to repeat to me was “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” She credited Hank Williams for that little nugget, though I’m fairly confident that’s not where it originated (a quick internet search left me with the feeling that it’s been said many times, and well, really, who cares). Well grandma, this is what standing up looks like.

And we’ll probably need some soup.

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

White Bean Soup with Brussels Sprouts and Apple Cider-Glazed Pumpkin

8 servings
  • Soup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 8 ounces carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, washed and picked over
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 sage sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2-3 quarts water, as needed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream, or more to taste
  • Brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 13 ounces brussels sprouts, shaved very thin
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cider-glazed Pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 11 ounces 1/2-inch diced butternut squash
  • High heat oil, for roasting
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Building Community

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin.

Fritter is a wonderful place for me to share stories and food from our kitchen with like-minded folk from around the country and the world. It offers me a challenge every month: to reflect on the past weeks, to pick a recipe that I think others might actually cook on their own, and to write, even when writing feels like the last thing I want to do.

It feels especially hard this month. Not because I don’t have things to say — if you know me outside of this context then you’re well aware that I have plenty to say — but because the standard “pick a recipe and then write a story connecting that recipe to your feelings right now” just doesn’t feel like enough. There literally is no recipe that makes sense this month. I’m still going to share one, because we can’t fight the good fight if we’re not feeding ourselves, but my words are going to digress. Indulge me, if you will.

I was born in Alabama, a state that has historically been dragged kicking and screaming into contemporary standards of civil rights, and was raised by racist parents. But life offered many chances to catch a glimpse of the other side: being educated in the bombed-out remains of Alabama’s (supposedly) desegregated public education system, reading the autobiography of Malcolm X at 13, and leaving the church altogether when “black people wouldn’t be comfortable here” wasn’t a good enough answer for why our church lacked diversity. I questioned and I studied, and ultimately I left, because the burden of correcting over a century of injustice felt too great for my tiny shoulders. I enrolled in art school, moved to San Francisco, and never looked back.

Art school is a haven that draws in people from all walks of life, and there my world expanded to include a variety of people that I would have likely never crossed paths with had I stayed in Alabama: Latino people, Asian people, Middle Eastern people, Muslim people, Hollywood people, LGBT people, descendants of royalty, politicized hip-hoppers from Detroit, and people with an array of mental heath disorders. I learned to embrace all of our differences, I learned that there are more forms of injustice than just racial oppression, and I learned that there’s more to being a badass than being a punk rocker in a depressed Southern town.

I go home twice a year, to visit my grandmother who did most of my raising, to see my niece, who I hope will find her path and continue to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance that is rampant in our family, and to check in with a few friends who stayed behind to fight for a better South. Other than that I have lived a comfortable West Coast life, filled with all of the geographic, social, and economic riches that we have at our disposal. I have found a home in a beautiful corner of the PNW, and opened a community kitchen that has filled me with more pride than I could ever deserve. I am thankful for this life, and thankful for the range of experiences that have allowed me to see the many dimensions of America. But I am also aware that I have become complacent, and that simply growing up as an antiracist teenager doesn’t mean I’m doing enough now to stand up against injustice in all its forms.

The act of cooking for another is one of humanity’s most beautiful gestures. At the Pantry we see this as key in our goal of building and strengthening our community. It starts with thoughtful consideration for who is growing the food we purchase, extends to building a staff that feels respected and supported, and culminates in carving out a space that allows our guests to connect with neighbors at our table. It is our greatest hope that what we do carries forward, encouraging everyone to continue cooking and sharing meals at their own tables.

No meal feels more significant than the upcoming holidays, where family members from all across the political spectrum will come together to continue old traditions and make new ones. For many of us, this year the intrigue at the holiday table has a few extra layers, with the election having drawn sharp lines in the sand. I don’t have answers for this. In fact, long before Nov. 8th, when I still held hope that fear and anger would not win the 2016 election, I cancelled my trip to Alabama for Christmas. It will be my first year missing it, but even then I knew that I wouldn’t be up for it.

I’m grappling with the paradox of owning a business that celebrates difference and encourages dialogue, while refusing to break bread with my own family because of who they voted for and what they believe. I don’t know how to reconcile my reality — one steeped in acceptance, curiosity, and a lot of privilege — with the large swaths of the country that are angry, fearful, and suffering in the age of globalism. And I’m struggling with how to love and respect those who had a hand in raising me into the compassionate fighter that I am today, but who ultimately chose their white economic privilege over the dignity of others. No matter how “woke” you considered yourself on November 7th, this election was a punch in the gut to those who’ve spent their lives fighting for social justice — for those who have been celebrating how far we’ve come in the last 60 years, and for those who saw just how far we still have to go. I have spent many hours wallowing in the loss, overwhelmed with shame for not fighting harder, and crying for my friends and neighbors who are now afraid because they are not white, because they are muslim, because they are not here legally, or because they are LGBT.

Unfortunately there are no take-backs for this one, so that means we’ve got a lot of work to do to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Here at the Pantry we’ll be spending the next few months studying up on how we can help locally, through political engagement, community outreach (it’s time to leave the kitchen!), and partnerships with local schools. We’ll also be looking for ways to help nationally, through donations to organizations like the ACLU and SPLC, and through scholarships for underprivileged students of social justice. At our first post-election staff meeting, I wept when I realized that everyone had an item on their discussion agenda on how to reach out, get involved, or protect each other. We are all ready to fight, and we welcome any ideas that you have.

So for anyone out there who feels alone, scared, threatened, or intimidated because of your race, religion, sexuality: please know that you have a place at our table. We welcome open and honest discussion, but have zero tolerance for intolerance, and are more than ready to remove anyone from our kitchen who engages in hate speech, bullying, or any other behavior that makes our guests feel unwelcome. And we’ll continue to do what we can to foster community through education, through sharing, and through eating.

Take care of each other, and maybe I'll see you in DC on January 21st.

Cranberries Web
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Farro Cakes with Duck Confit and Pickled Cranberries

6 servings
  • Farro Cakes
  • 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-pearled farro
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups hot vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs, plus more as needed
  • High-heat oil for frying
  • Duck Confit
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 inches rosemary
  • Zest of 1/4 medium orange
  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 cups duck fat
  • Pickled Cranberries & Cranberry Puree
  • 4 ounces cranberries
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 each allspice berries
  • 1 whole clove
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Culinary Magic

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

My culinary awakening happened fairly late in life.

It was around my second year in college, eating pomegranate-braised chicken legs at a Turkish restaurant that a friend dragged me to. I distinctly remember that first bite, and the bites that followed – of spinach and feta wrapped in filo pastry, of smoky eggplant purée, and of walnuts drowned in honey. Realizing that food was, in fact, not scary at all, sent me straight on to the streets of San Francisco, seeking out every cuisine imaginable over the next 10 years. Pakistani, Peruvian, Burmese, Senegalese – the Bay Area had it all.

As you can imagine, growing up in Alabama was a bit different. Globalization has brought a few more options to my hometown (we have a Korean restaurant now!), but as a young one, there really wasn’t much to eat outside of fast food chains, Applebee’s, and the occasional Southern meat-and-three restaurant. What we DID have access to, however, was Cajun food. So while my early years didn’t see much action in the way of ethnic cuisine, my palate was formed tasting that fantastic combination of spicy and sweet flavors and classic French technique that defines Cajun cooking. So when we realized that after five years of feeding the community, we hadn’t yet hosted a Cajun-inspired dinner, well, we changed that.

Dirty rice arancini with jalapeño pepper jelly
Rabbit rillettes, plum jam, pickled fennel seeds on crostini
Spicy corn fritters with bell pepper relish

Penn Cove mussels
Cranberry beans, peppers, andouille, and crispy cornbread

Shaved celery root and apple
Tasso ham, celery leaves, and creamy Creole mustard dressing

Housemade boudin blanc with sweet potato purée and fried sweet potato skins
Cream-braised chard and pickled grapes with pecan gremolata

Apple soufflé with buttermilk anglaise

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

If you’re familiar with my desserts, then you know I’m not a huge fan of classic French pastry (the horror!). I mean, yes, they make a delicious... everything. It’s just a touch fussy and rigid for my taste, with all the rules, the precise widths of cake layers, and — let’s just be honest — the attitude. I appreciate good technique as much as the next chef, but I’ve always gravitated towards the more casual (rustic, if that sounds better) and approachable side of baking: pies, trifles, puddings, etc. Back in architecture school I attended a fantastic lecture on classic garden design history, and learned about the English garden vs. the French garden. Oddly enough they make a perfect metaphor for pastry: the classic French garden is rational, ordered, and clean, and the English garden is wild and uninhibited. I'm definitely an English garden. I like my desserts big, messy, and served family style. That being said, there’s one area of pastry where my aesthetic aligns perfectly with the French: the soufflé.

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Soufflés are pure culinary magic, and bring with them a giant pile of anxieties and fears. I’ve been making soufflés for years, and I still find myself staring impatiently at the oven door EVERY TIME, terrified they won’t puff. But they always rise, and they always leave me promising to make them more often. If you haven’t already heard this, let me be the first to tell you: their reputation for difficulty is a bit overblown. They’re easy to prepare in advance, and once you get the hang of it, they’re actually a breeze to whip up on a weeknight.

This soufflé is a touch more complex than some – it has a pastry cream base, and really needs the buttermilk custard sauce to feel complete. But you can make the pastry cream and custard sauce in advance, and if you’d like to serve them at a dinner party, you can have them assembled in their ramekins and resting in the fridge before your guests even arrive. If you decide to make them completely in advance, just pull them from the fridge about 30–40 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, as a cold soufflé will not rise as much.

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Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Apple Soufflé with Buttermilk Custard Sauce

6 servings
  • Apple Souffles
  • 1/2 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup pastry cream (below)
  • 2 cups apple cider, reduced to 5-6 tablespoons
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 ounce cornstarch
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • Buttermilk Anglaise
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Collaborating Over Ribs

Ribs Plated
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

I love the fact that the Pantry is a team effort. But it's not without its challenges.

Sometimes we're not actually sure who's in charge, and there's always the need to make sure we're staying true to the Pantry's voice, and keeping it consistent across many individual styles. We write our menus together, we recipe test together, and, as much as possible, we eat together. That being said, the lack of hierarchy keeps everyone invested and supportive, and means that we get to flirt with so many great cuisines, reflecting the stories and travels of each of us.

I've been itching to cook a Mexican-inspired menu since we opened, but I've been skeptical as to whether there was interest. All of us have been to Mexico, and have had our turn falling in love with the food, but in the United States, Mexican food tends to be relegated to food trucks and taquerias. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but I wasn't sure how many people would sign up for three and a half hours of feasting when they're used to quick and tasty tacos. We decided to go for it, and boy, were we happy to see this dinner fill the quickest on our summer line up. So yeah, I think we can expect more Mexican-inspired dinners in our future.

Chorizo and queso-stuffed jalapeños
Seared masa cake with shaved snap peas, radishes, and cotija
Grilled corn with Fresno chile-lime aioli and cilantro

Coconut and lime-marinated albacore tuna
Shaved hot and sweet peppers, jicama, and fried sweet potato

Chile and honey-glazed pork ribs with pineapple-radish salsa
Chipotle-braised Anasazi beans with cotija

Wedge salad with avocado, pickled jalapeños, and lime-salt chicharrones
Cilantro and crema dressing

Roasted peach crema ice cream
Cinnamon sugar buñuelos, grilled peach dulce de leche, and candied pecans

Ribs Web
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Our family dinners are easily one of our favorite things we do here. Big piles of food, bubbles and wine throughout, fun music (we think), and 40 of our neighbors gathering at the table and getting to know each other. We serve as much food as possible family-style, and we relish the chance to get everyone's hands dirty. So when ribs were proposed as the main dish, I let out a resounding YES! Because what better way to get food all over you than with a sticky rack of ribs? Darin developed this recipe for baby back ribs slow-roasted in honey and lime, and then piled high with a pineapple-radish salsa. We made a little extra for us to nibble on throughout the night, but we were secretly pleased when there was barely a rib left. Next time.

Pineapple Salsa Web
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Honey Glazed Ribs with Pineapple Salsa

6 servings
  • Marinated Ribs
  • 5 pounds baby back ribs
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 poblanos, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 20g kosher salt
  • Honey Glaze
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pineapple Salsa
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely diced
  • 6 ounces tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 ounces pineapple, finely diced
  • 3 ounces jicama, finely diced
  • 2 ounces radishes, finely diced
  • 1 canned chipotle chile en adobo, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

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