Archive for the 'Ethnic Flavor' Category

Celebrating National Soup Month

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Throughout many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, January brings with it the chill of winter weather but it also brings with it the warmth of National Soup Month! Although we can’t quite seem to get to the bottom of the origin of national soup month, it’s become a beloved time in America to celebrate and recognize one of winter’s favorite global comfort foods: the one and only spoonable, slurpable, shareable soup.

As one of the oldest forms of food, soup has rightfully earned its respect throughout the thousands of years that we’ve been consuming it. It’s a staple in many cultures worldwide and we just adore its versatility and seemingly infinite varieties. Here’s just a short list of soup’s many admirable qualities:

  • Plays well with others (namely sandwiches and salads)
  • Comforts us when we need it most
  • Time-efficiency via the convenience of leave-alone crock pot recipes or instant and microwaveable versions
  • Frequently opens the door to regional and ethnic ingredients and introductions
  • Resourceful! Makes great use of fridge and cupboard contents that are nearing their life’s end
  • Exhibits strong family values and traditions (that legendary chicken soup recipe that’s been passed down for generations)
  • And of course (whether real or imagined) its indisputable healing powers

Since National Soup Month is about commemorating soups that span the world, here are some of our favorite new soup products that have launched globally this winter:

Broccoli, Coconut Milk and Green Curry Soup (France; Green Shoot)

Cream of Roast Parsnip & Pancetta Soup (UK; Morrisons M Christmas – private label)

Ricotta & Lobster Ravioli in a Seafood Bisque (USA; Bertolli Meal Soup)

 

Indian Style Chicken Soup (Belgium; New Covent Garden Soup Co.)

Whether it’s clear or creamy, hearty or lite, veggie-based or meat-centric, we hope you celebrate National Soup Month with a pot-full of your favorite broth, bisque or bouillabaisse – and at least one helping of a new-to-you soup find. Happy slurping!

Europe is for (Food) Lovers: Part II Paris

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Oddly enough, before flying to Paris the last thing I ate in Prague was a crêpe from a food stand at the pop-up market in Old Town Square. In case you’re wondering, it was a chocolate and banana crêpe, about a foot in length and every bit as delicious as you’re imagining. So with the fitting send-off, I was ready to take on the food scene in Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh cheese selections at a Sunday street market on the Rue de Seine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We noticed that a lot of the salad choices came topped with smoked meats – and this huge portion was deliciously satisfying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ice cream stand right in front of the long lines of the Eiffel Tower…genius! The pistachio flavor was a huge hit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t be in Paris and not indulge in dessert. This is a classic apple tart a la mode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite of the sweets I ate in Paris (besides the macarons) was this chocolate lava cake with French vanilla ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a typical French market, fresh produce outside with other grocery items inside. There are very few supermarkets in Paris like those we are accustomed to in the states as Parisians prefer to buy very fresh and typically stop by the market at least 3 times a week, if not every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This signature French dish – croque madame – was served on the perfect piece of crisp, thinly sliced bread. The croque madame is a variation of the original croque monsieur that adds a fried egg to the famous hearty snack. A croque monsieur consists of a grilled ham and cheese served open face atop a crisp slice of bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tartine Italienne at Café Reale in the jardin des tuileries in Paris was a great choice for a refreshing lunch on a hot day of sightseeing. Artichokes and mushrooms on a thick slice of cheese-topped dough (sort of like a Sicilian pizza) served cold with a side of pesto greens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just love this shot – so exemplary of the Parisian café scene. Outdoor seating, people milling about and even a man playing an accordion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful and mouthwatering macaron display at Maison Georges Larnicol in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first day back at the office, this is the fortune cookie I got.  I couldn’t have scripted a more poetic message to welcome me back from a wonderful and memorable trip.

 

Europe is for (Food) Lovers: Part I Prague

Monday, August 13th, 2012

I was lucky enough this summer to get to spend some vacation time in Europe and as a foodie, I – of course – ate my way through the trip. No, really. There are as many pictures of my meals from the adventure as there are of the beautiful sites.

Prague, Czech Republic is one of the most breathtaking cities I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Everywhere you turn your head you’re overwhelmed by an architectural feast for your eyes. It is absolutely and unequivocally magical. When we weren’t busy falling in love with Prague’s cathedrals, castles and historical charm, we were having an affair with its food. Czech this out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my mom’s first Czech meal she wanted an authentic, native dish: pork four ways with three different dumplings and red and white cabbage. She was very happy with her choice and there was plenty to share with the whole crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first taste of Prague was this mouthwatering mushroom polenta. The mushrooms had sooo much flavor and were a perfect accompaniment to the mild polenta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoked fish is a very popular menu item throughout Europe and Prague was certainly no exception. This salmon was smoked to perfection and served with whipped potatoes and grilled zucchini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This food kiosk on a busy promenade is exemplary of the prominence of smoked meats on the Czech food scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands down, the best mushroom soup I have ever tasted. Really and truly. By the way – have I mentioned that I adore mushrooms? If you do too and if ever your travels take you through Prague, do yourself a favor and stop in at U Tynka Restaurant in Old Town Square for an unforgettable taste of this Czech mushroom soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there was no shortage of native dishes, Prague also cooks up great meal options spanning all of Europe. As a tourist-heavy city, they do a great job of offering authentic cuisine choices from its many European neighbors, like this escargot appetizer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This shrimp with saffron cream sauce and whipped potatoes was as delicious as it was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional kielbasa appetizer served with some fresh veggies, mustard and horseradish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case you need any more evidence that meat is a staple on every menu. On the left is pork knee and on the right ribs – two pounds of each! Both served on their own wooden cutting boards with a bowl of gherkin pickles, mustard and horseradish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On weekends in Old Town Square you can enjoy strolling through the pop-up market with plenty of food stands, souvenirs and crafts. This merchant is keeping an eye on his ham as it cooks over the rotisserie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A close-up of the finished product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Czech Republic’s most well-known pastries, trdelnik, is made from rolled dough that’s wrapped around a stick, then grilled (like in this picture) and topped with sugar and a mix of sweet toppings like walnut, almond and vanilla, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night falling over Prague Castle and the Vltava River. This magical city won me over, and it took all of about ten minutes.

Check back next week for the second half of Europe is for (Food) Lovers: Paris edition.

 

Reflections on the Roadshow

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

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It’s hard to believe that another Innovation Roadshow® has come and gone. With 18 months of planning, our annual event was over quicker than you can even say the word “Roadshow.”

Throughout 26 booths, our global technical staff showcased almost 100 new concepts, flavors and technologies that got our attendees’ creative juices flowing.

All that noshing built up energy for presentations on food & beverage trends, alternative natural sweeteners and new EU flavor legislation. And the day culminated with a keynote presentation from Mary Wagner, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Research & Development/Quality for Starbucks Coffee Company. Her presentation educated our attendees on how to remain authentic to your brand, yet appeal to the local market to which you are selling.

But back to the food! When it comes to the products we show at our Innovation Showcase, the tabletop exhibit mentioned above, everyone has their favorites – based on personal preference, uniqueness and applicability – but let me share with you some of mine….

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  • Varietal Mint Ice Creams – Inspired by chewing gum, we explored the use of spearmint (paired with blackberry) and wintergreen (paired with vanilla) in ice cream, as well as a new texture. Utilizing David Michael’s Michtex® technology, we were able to replicate the “stretchy” texture of Turkish-style ice cream, also known as dondurma.

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  • Fortified Fruity Chicken Nuggets – For the picky eater in need of a nutritional boost, these nuggets boast vitamins and minerals, or deliver a serving of fruit. Choose from Cherry Lime or Apple Pie a la Mode (coated with real pie crust and vanilla ice cream flavored icing!).

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  • Aloe Beverages – Each year at the Fancy Foods Show, the number of vendors showing aloe beverages grows and grows. With their sweet taste and flavorful adaptability, why haven’t these taken off? One theory is the large pulp. Our beverage group addressed this with three flavors with varying degrees of pulp. And the flavors! The beverages were shown in Borojo Rooibos Tea, Old Fashioned Lemonade, and Spiced Peach (with cinnamon, vanilla and mastic).

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  • Mood Truffles – As in get-in-the-mood truffles. We’ve spotted some trends lately pointing toward aphrodisiac foods gaining favor with baby boomers. Anti-aging foods that enhance energy and vitality, are going a step further. The flavors also test our level of comfort, another emerging trend, with oyster and uni (sea urchin roe).

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  • Maghreb Fruit & Almond Smoothie – Not only does this fruit and almond milk smoothie highlight dairy alternatives, and North African flavors (honey fig, and honey fig with orange blossom and cumin), but it’s also a multi-purpose beverage. The smoothies can also be used as sauces for meats.

But these are just a few of the amazing items showcased this year. To learn more about the Innovation Roadshow, click here. To taste samples from this year’s show, or get copies of the presentations, please contact your account manager.

Sometimes, I just get a feeling…

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

There’s a lot of research that goes into predicting trends – reading through countless new product reports, tracking new articles, examining non-food trends for societal influences. All of these things fit into a big puzzle that is constantly changing.

But sometimes, it just comes down to a gut feeling.

Recently, I’ve spotted some announcements for a free Malaysian food truck in New York, sponsored by the “Malaysia Kitchen for the World” organization. This organization sponsored other food-focused events earlier this year as well, bringing traditional Malaysian foods to the residents of New York City.

And today, CNN’s Eatocracy blog (always a fun read, by the way) featured a video on Malaysian street food.

I know…it’s only two mentions…but I’ve got that feeling. Malaysian food is strongly influenced by neighbors Indonesia and Thailand, as well as China, India and Portugal, due to early settlers. Some of these countries’ flavors are currently on-trend, as well, which only adds to the intrigue.

So, it may not be tomorrow. It may not even be next year. But at some point in the not too distant future, I’d say to expect a bit of attention on Malaysian flavors…. I’ve just got a feeling.

The 2010 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 3

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

So much food, so little time…

I was pleasantly surprised at the 479° Popcorn booth. How exciting can flavored popcorn be? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Me too. But their flavors –Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar, Madras Curry Coconut & Cashews, and Black Truffle & White Cheddar – were both creative and delicious.

And speaking of creative, I just loved the breakfast pitas, with real fruit pieces, from Ozery Bakery. Available in apple cinnamon, cranberry orange, and breakfast muesli, they make a fabulous substitute for your usual morning bagel, toast, etc. (I’m thinking the cranberry orange wouldn’t be too shabby with a lunchtime turkey sandwich either!)

Granola Flats weren’t much more than an ultra-thin flattened granola bar (Nature Valley type), but they were darn tasty! Plus, they’re sold as a “chip” rather than a bar which means I have something to snack on now when hubby dives into the Fritos during a baseball game.

When it comes to food, I’ll try anything once. (Whether I’ll try it again is a different story.) But there is the occasional product that my brain just won’t allow past my lips. That’s been true in the past of vinegar drinks brought to me by my wonderful co-workers at David Michael Beijing. I love vinegar – so much, that I load it up on my salads to the point of mouth numbing. But the idea of drinking it, like juice – I just couldn’t get past that. So, when I spotted Hong Cho’s pomegranate vinegar drink, I decided to go for it. And you know what? It’s pretty good! The vinegar is noticeable, but not overwhelming. Since there are a number of health-benefits linked to vinegar drinks, I’m officially adding this to my radar. With the right marketing (a downplay of the word “vinegar” I’m thinking) this could be a future trend to watch.

Other fun finds at this year’s show? I was excited to spot macqui berry at Honest Tea’s booth in the new Macqui Berry Mate – keep your eyes peeled for more of this superfruit. There was lots of prickly pear and blood orange flavored goodies, mostly drinks. I found Parisian macarons at a number of booths, including the frozen macarons at Galaxy Desserts – perfect for foodservice. The Naan Pizza at Tandoor Chef was awesome – it’s about darn time we had something like this on the market. And, Chobani Greek Yogurt now offers Chobani Champions, said to be the only Greek yogurt made for kids.

And my favorite product of the show? Nothing too crazy here – my personal favorite were the falafels at Falafel Republic. Lightly fried balls of ground chick peas, falafels are typically served in a pita from your favorite street vendor. This version needs only seconds in the microwave to heat up, and the falafels are satisfyingly savory and filling. Served with tzatziki sauce, I could eat them every day, with or without the pita.

From Little Russia by the Sea…with love!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

This weekend, I stepped off of the subway, and into another world…literally. I, along with a gaggle of women, visited Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on Saturday night for an unconventional bachelorette party at The National – a Russian supper club where English is scarce, and the vodka is French.

A display of cold appetizers awaits us.

Smoked sturgeon and lox.

When we were seated at our table for 18, a traditional Russian spread was already waiting for us. A bevy of cold appetizers ranging from Russian potato salad, smoked sturgeon, lox, grilled vegetables, chicken liver pate, pickles, eggplant, assorted salads, and beef tongue. Even in this brave group of women, the beef tongue was met with cringes and “no thank you’s,” until our intrepid friend Jennie manned up, and chased it quickly down with pumpernickel and vodka – a scowl on her face.

The infamous beef tongue!

Almost full already, the food kept coming, and miraculously found space on the table. More cold appetizers – pancakes with salmon roe, more fish, more salad. Then the hot appetizers – roasted potatoes, chicken-filled pirozhki (like a dumpling, pierogi or knish), grilled white fish, and stuffed roast beef.

Getting stuffed - chicken pirozhki amid a table full of food!

And, oh wait, there’s more!!! A few hours into dinner, dancing, and live music, and there were more hot appetizers to be had! Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, the waiters served us a beautiful bread bowl filled with beef stew that was out of this world. All the while, straight vodka was the beverage of choice, and our requests for water were lost a bit in translation.

Bread bowl with beef stew.

Happy birthdays were sung to those from one year to 50. Anniversary dances were made with grandkids running circles round. And then, the stage show began. White suits and mesh leotards accented by wigs, hats and feathers. Salsa prevailed in the Carnivale theme that didn’t seem out of place, even though every other bit of chatter was in Russian.

Beef tongue, later in the evening, remains mostly untouched!

Dinner was served as we watched, a collection of chicken and pork kebabs, stuffed chicken breast…and french fries (a little random, but completely appreciated!). The evening finished with more dancing and singing, as well as cakes, pastries and coffee. For those six hours of solid eating, I felt as if I had been transported to Russia, and all I did was drive up the turnpike. It’s amazing how food can do that – in concert with language, song and vodka, of course!

We asked why the vodka was French, but the Russian speaking waiters didn't quite understand our question. The response? "It's for fun."

**Thanks to all the ladies that donated their food pictures!!!

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 3

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Another product that caught my fancy at this year’s show is healthDropzTM. Called a “Beverage Booster,” the company claims that by adding six drops to any beverage, you get the benefit of the supplement, free of flavor or calories. Available in energy, focus, and green tea, I decided that I was in grave need of a kick and tried the energy in water. There really was no flavor. I was truly surprised – it just tasted like plain water!

But since I am here to talk flavors, I was very pleased to find a line of flavored dulce de leche from the Argentian company el Semillero. Also a producer of chimichurri (yum), the dulces were available in mint, orange, and, I believe, cinnamon and coconut, aside from original, of course. I sampled the orange which was delicious. What a fabulous idea!

While walking the aisles of the show, I found inspiration for a friend’s baby shower at the Sutter Home booth. Alcohol Removed Fre® Wine tastes just like the real thing, and is available in all the classic varieties – Merlot, White Zin and Chardonnay, just to name a few. The Fre website also boasts “cocktails” using the wines. And at the booth, a few “Preggatini” recipes were available too – “cocktails for the mom-to-be.”

Other highlights from this year’s Fancy Foods Show included Jelly Belly’s new Superfruit mix, featuring acai, Barbados cherry, blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry flavors – a delicious mix, especially if you’re a red fruit fan like myself. Another fave, Brownie Pops take brownies, dip them in chocolate, and put ‘em on a stick – HELLO!

At the Winter Fancy Foods Show in California, hibiscus seemed to be all the rage, but in NYC it was all about the blood orange. In fact, quite a few blood orange flavored items (confit, juice, marmalade) took home Sofi Awards.

With over 2,300 exhibitors on the show floor, I had a tall order for this one-day jaunt. But once the feet start aching, and too much sampling leads to a thousand-yard stare, it’s easy to miss a great product. That’s why it’s always helpful to check out other show reviews – because we all see something different!

A few of my favorites this year are Bobby Flay’s review from the CBS Early Show (check out the video), New York Daily News (check out the mini-melon), Sara Moulton on ABC’s Good Morning America, and Slashfood’s day-by-day highlights.

Plus, you can revisit our reviews from the January Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco!

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 2

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Next up on the fancy brigade is a stop in Peru. Last month, we took you on a little journey through Peru, with flavor chemist Yuko Nodo. But at the Fancy Foods Show, the flavors of Peru came to me.

So often, I avoid the international pavilions. The mind (and feet) can only take in so much in a day, and typically the pavilions are filled with a lot of commodity products. And let’s face it, there are only so many nuts and so much olive oil a girl can take.

But Peru did it right. At a large endcap of the pavilion I was drawn in by the call of Pisco Sours…delish! After one turn around this overly crowded display, I found out that the trade organization PromPeru had joined forces with a local Peruvian restaurant, Oh! Calamares (Kearny, NJ), to present an amazing spread of goodies. I snacked on potato pastries and chocolate flan! The lucuma fruit was heavily promoted through samples and signage, as were Peruvian potatoes and purple corn. Elderberry, amaranth and quinoa were also displayed in the pavilion. With all of the foodie interest in Peruvian cuisine recently, it was no surprise to see this was the absolute busiest booth at the show.

And, speaking of crowded booths, Ciao Bella Gelato had its fair share of traffic, too! I sampled the Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato – a 2009 Sofi Award Winner in the Perishable Foodservice Product category. There’s no question why this product won! So often, key lime flavored products don’t translate as well into non-pie applications. If not done right, they can taste, well, artificial. But this was right on – authentic and refreshing, like a frozen slice of fresh pie.

Last fall, I read about Skyr - a strained Icelandic yogurt that’s been slowly making a name for itself. Plus, it’s non-fat and sugar-free. So when I happened upon the Siggi’s booth at the show, I was excited to taste! I tried the plain first, to experience the true flavor of skyr. It tastes quite a bit like traditional yogurt, only much thicker and creamier. It’s very filling, and sour. They had a number of flavors on hand to sample, and I went immediately for the grapefruit. The flavored varieties are sweetened with agave nectar. The grapefruit seemed a bit thinner than the plain, and was more tart, or course, but quite good. I wish I hadn’t been so full at the time, or else I would have tried more of their flavors – they all sounded delicious!

In an issue of Fast Track Fast Trends last year, we explored Coneinn Pizza, which is basically, a pizza in a cone! The product heats in the microwave, in an upright package. Sounds great, doesn’t it! Problem is – it’s a European product. That’s why I was so excited to see the Coneinn booth at the show! I was pretty sad that they didn’t have any samples to try (I’ve been drooling over it for a year, after all!), but I did find out that they’re looking for stateside distributors. They will be mine…oh yes, they will be mine.

One more installment to go! Next time we’ll talk alcohol-free wine and flavored dulce de leche!

A Peruvian Adventure

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Today we welcome guest blogger Yuko Noda, a chemist in our processed flavors department. Yuko recently returned from a trip to Peru, and had lots to share with us about the experience, and the flavors!!

Last year, both Epicurious and Bon Appétit predicted that Peruvian cuisine to be the hot ethnic cuisine of 2009. True to their predictions, we are seeing more Peruvian inspired dishes and drinks making their way into magazines and on restaurant menus. As I had coincidentally planned a vacation to Peru, I was excited to find out more about this delightful cuisine on my trip. 

Some people say that Peru has the best and most diverse food in all of South America.  Peruvian cuisine is a melting pot of flavors ranging from Incan and Spanish cuisine to Chinese, Japanese, African and other European immigrant influences. One example of this is the popular dish lomo saltado, a beef sirloin stir-fry seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar and aji chili pepper (Peruvian hot pepper). It is served with French fries, which are sometimes mixed with the stir fry, and white rice. Visually, it seemed kind of strange – but then again, how can you go wrong with deep fried potatoes?

Speaking of potatoes, Peruvians adore potatoes and grow a few thousand varieties of them, ranging in color, shape and size. Potatoes were in virtually every dish that I ate on my trip-as one of the main ingredients in dishes like causa (potato mashed with aji chili and layered or stuffed with a mixture of tuna, chopped red onions, avocado, boiled eggs, lime juice and mayo) and lomo saltad. They were also served as sides or garnishes in dishes like ceviche, alpaca steak and roasted cuy (roasted whole guinea pig which is a specialty in the area around the town of Cusco). If you’re wondering, both the cuy and alpaca were quite tasty. Alpaca meat was tender and the flavor was similar to a cross of goat and lamb. And cuy tasted kind of like rabbit. I cheated and got the shredded cuy confit, instead of the whole animal with its head and feet. (Seriously, would you want this thing staring at you from your plate??)

One of my favorite dishes was arroz con pollo. Arroz con pollo is a popular dish in the Latin world but what makes Peruvian arroz con pollo special is the use of cilantro. Cilantro blended with water is added to the cooking liquid, giving the whole dish a green hue. People who don’t like cilantro may actually enjoy eating this dish since the cilantro flavor is very mild. The same flavor profile is seen in seco, a stew with cilantro sauce made with beef, lamb, chicken or duck.  

Cuy (roasted whole guinea pig)

Cuy (roasted whole guinea pig)

From munching on Inca protein bars (containing quinoa, amarath and popped wheat and a hint of anise) while hiking on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, to enjoying aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a rich creamy aji chili sauce served over rice) in an upscale restaurant overlooking the pre-Inca ruin in Lima, my trip to Peru was definitely a culinary adventure!

Machu Picchu in the early morning

Machu Picchu in the early morning

Tempted to try some Peruvian flavor for yourself? Stay tuned to dmflavors.com! Yuko will recreate one of her favorite dishes for the August Recipe of the Month. Visitors to this year’s Innovation Roadshow will also have the opportunity to enjoy some Peruvian flavor at Yuko’s booth.

David Michael & Co. • 10801 Decatur Road • Philadelphia, PA 19154 • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS

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