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Basil, Thyme, and a Sous-Vide Truck in DC?

Basil, Thyme, and a Sous-Vide Truck in DC?


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On June 7, 2011, former IT professional Brian Farrell introduced the District of Columbia to homemade and gourmet lasagnas made with from-scratch pasta and served on the go. The "scratched" metal finish on this food truck is just where the hard work began for Basil Thyme. "It took me 250 hours with a drill and sandpaper to create the swirled-brushed aluminum look," said Farrell. "In the beginning, I had no funds for a fancy wrap, so I just hoped people would get it: scratched truck equals from-scratch food — and forgive our appearances in favor of our 100 percent hard work (and hopefully tasty) menu! People seem to like the finish, though, so I think It's going to stick."

People also seem to really enjoy the food Farrell serves with the help of chef Alberto Vega. There are five different kinds of artisan lasagnas, among them the Linda ("traditional" lasagna with seasoned beef), the Cantena (wine and shallot sautéed chicken with spinach), the Guiseppe (black truffle lasagna with gorgonzola and portobello truffle cream sauce), and the newer lobster or crab lasagnas — it was the Washington City Paper’s readers' pick for second-best food truck in the city. So it's no surprise that Basil Thyme's great work landed them a spot on The Daily Meal's 2012 list of 101 Best Food Trucks in America.

And it looks like Washingtonians are about to be rewarded with double the basil and thyme. Basil Thyme is about to launch its second truck: "Basil Thyme's Two." Farrell says it's going to focus exclusively on fresh pasta, with innovative techniques and specials. "Now I'm working 70 hours a week, just to do lunch — so I just wont have the same time to devote to decorating this new truck; it will definitely have to have a wrap," he joked.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Besides plans for a new truck, in this interview with Farrell, learn more about the inspiration for launching Basil Thyme, the vanity plates he'd like to have, and his general advice for how to budget for time to launch and investment.

What was the inspiration for going into this business?
Toward the end of 2010, I was growing tired of cold-calling as an IT sales guy, and the economy was telling me it was time to try something new. I wanted to pursue a passion of mine — cooking. I used to watch Food Network and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (the BBC version), and the F-Word, etc., and really any resonable cooking show I could get my eyes on. They all seemed to tell me, "If you put in the hard work and use quality ingredients, then you've got a formula for success." So I thought that if I combined my passion for food with my love of working with people it would be a great match for a food truck!

What's the story behind the origin of your truck's name?
I spent about four hours just brainstorming and was trying to come up with some clever acronyms when it hit me: Basil Thyme! I love basil and my thinking was that it's a way of saying, "It's time for fresh herbs and fresh cooking! Wake up, people. Wake up your taste buds and try some great from-scratch cooking. It's Basil Thyme!" Thus the alarm clock logo with motion and clock hands with two basil leaves instead.

How did you come up with your truck's design? Is there a designer you'd like to give a shout-out to?
I owe much to Ray Turner with getting me started. If you'd like help with getting a truck built, Ray is a great guy and can do a good deal (contact us and I can get you in touch). Also, I'd like to thank Deanna Doan. She's a fantastic artist who did PhoWheels in D.C., and is doing our design for Basil Thyme's Two. I loved the work she did on PhoWheels so I asked the owner and he got us connected. Can't wait get that wrap on!

Does your truck have a vanity license plate?
We don't. But I'd like to get "BasilX1" and "BasilX2."

What model truck do you have?
Basil Thyme is a Chevy P30 1987. Basil Thyme's Two is a 1997 GMC 350. They're both diesel.

What's your signature dish? Is it also your most popular dish?
Our signature dish is our lobster lasagna or our black truffle. Folks go crazy over them and they're probably our best reviewed dishes. Most popular is the default. When new customers say they want a "lasagna," they get the Linda, our traditional lasagna. It's named after my mom. It's a great comfort food!

What's the inspiration for your cuisine and recipes?
Italian has always been my favorite. Simple and delicious flavors are reminders of the good times my family in West Haven, Conn., used to have. We would do Thanksgiving the Italian way: nine courses including Italian wedding soup, a manicotti course, and more. My mom and aunt were both home and career skills teachers, so I guess something rubbed off — though much if not all of the credit goes to chef Vega for delivering consistently day after day.

What's the most challenging thing about running your food truck?
Finding parking and the D.C. government. Didn't expect I'd have to waste a resource in the kitchen for two hours each morning, just to have him go run downtown to secure parking. The proliferation of food trucks in D.C. — 17 when I started a year and a half ago and well over 130 now — has contributed to the parking challenge. It's not politically correct to say, but I think there are too many food trucks out there that don't really have a cullinary vision, but instead are just out to make a buck with uninspired and frozen/cookie-cutter food. We're established so it's not as hard for us. But for a new truck coming out, it's too bad they have to compete with what I'd view as just distracting noise, one more truck, one more space/thing to be looked at and competed with, but one that offers little culinary value. And it's a shame they are taking up a preciously rare spot that could be used by someone who's adding neat/new food/new twists that people would enjoy more.


I had a trio of pork sliders and garlic fries. Without question the best pork slider I have ever had. The pork was tender (not sure how they maintain that), the BBQ mustard sauce and pickled onion brought all the flavors together. Probably didn't need the third one, but couldn't resist! These guys will be in my regular rotation. Cannot recommend highly enough.

I loved the presentation and the flavors. It was so awesome that we have made it one of our family favorites for Truckeroo. I can't wait to try the calamari.


Late Summer Sweets for Nostalgia and Comfort

Whether it is barbecue (cooked indoors or out), fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, or frozen summertime treats, flavors are part of the summer. That first taste of a popsicle or lick of an ice cream cone can trigger nostalgic feelings as we remember our favorite treats from summers past. You might associate what you are eating not just with food or flavor, but also with good feelings, or experiences that went along with what you’re eating.

With vacation plans sometimes scrambled by COVID-19, many of us have spent summer around the house. The extra time at home is leading to changes in cooking habits. A survey of 1,000 Americans by the food and beverage communications firm Hunter found that people are becoming more confident and adventurous in their cooking, developing new habits and looking for both health and comfort as they cook at home. More than half (54%) said they are cooking at home more than they were during COVID-19, and 46% say they’re baking more.

Survey respondents were split evenly between eating healthy foods (40%) and eating comfort/indulgent foods (40%). If you’re a comfort seeker, this post is for you. It’s time to indulge in some summer sweetness.

Remember coming in from playing outside in the hot summer sun, and rummaging around in the freezer for a cherry, grape or orange popsicle to help you cool off? (Did you prefer single or double stick?) You never outgrow popsicles, and those single fruit flavors are proven staples of summer. You can easily make your own by freezing your favorite fruit juice. But the popsicle is also a dessert that is ripe for experimentation.

These exotic popsicle recipes, prepared and photographed by AHAM staff member Matt Williams, will add a new twist, and perhaps become a new seasonal flavor craving. By the way, you don’t need popsicle molds to try these!

Tahini, Honey Roasted Fig and Banana Popsicles (from Foodal)

To make this Middle East/Mediterranean-inspired popsicle, you’ll need your blender and oven as well as your freezer. Time to bring some new flavor to your summer with this popsicle, which combines figs, honey, kosher salt, ripe bananas, tahini and milk or a dairy-free alternative.

Blackberry, Bourbon and Chevre Popsicles (from Jerry James Stone)

Goat cheese and bourbon in a popsicle? This intriguing frozen treat combines, both, along with milk, thyme, honey, blackberries and brown sugar.

The Decadent

Sous Vide Ultimate Crème Brulee with Flavor Variations (from Anova)

Calorie-laden goodness comes in many forms, not just frozen. While you might not normally associate crème brulee with the dog days of summer, it is a dessert that comes with a healthy dose of comfort, regardless of the time of year. And this recipe from Anova Culinary offers a great opportunity to move your sous vide cooking game beyond steak.

AHAM staff member Meagan Hatch prepared and photographed this recipe, calling it “the perfect sous vide dessert, because you can get your cream to an exact temperature and the custard will set perfectly.”

Beyond your sous vide cooker, you’ll need heavy whipping cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar or xylitol sugar substitute, ground vanilla or vanilla extract, and your choice of flavors. Anova suggests 1 tsp rose water 1 tsp orange blossom water 1 Earl Grey tea bag 1 Tablespoon citrus zest of your choosing 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger 2 Tablespoons instant espresso 1/4 tsp flavor extract such as almond, peppermint, anise, orange, etc sprig of fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, tarragon fresh or dried bay leaves pinch saffron teaspoon dried lavender or use your imagination.

The Traditional

S’mores around the campfire are a summer tradition. Not going camping? No matter—you can still enjoy them in the comfort of your kitchen, and they’re simple to make. All you need are some graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and your microwave.

Put one cracker into the microwave. Top with chocolate and a marshmallow. Microwave it for 15 seconds at a time until the marshmallow expands. Top with the other cracker.

It really is that simple, and AHAM’s Natalie Cheung honored the traditional with this recipe. However, if you are looking for an alternative to the traditional s’more, try swapping the plain chocolate for a peanut butter cup or other kind of candy bar, the graham cracker for a cookie, or adding slices of banana. Or if you’re really feeling adventurous, go for the salty caramel bacon s’more or one of these creative twists on a classic from TheKitchn.


11 Recipes That Prove the Versatility of Halibut

Halibut–it’s not just for the hell of it! It’s high in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, low in fat, and mild in flavor. Wild Alaskan halibut is certified sustainable. And–best of all–it’s so versatile. From fish and chips to Asian broths, check out these awesome halibut recipes to perk up your seafood repertoire.

1. Baked Halibut Puttanesca with Crostini

This spicy, savory recipe keeps halibut moist by baking it gently in tomato sauce. Just toast your crostini, bake the fish in this sauce packed with briny olives and salty anchovies, and before you know it, you will have a new twist on an old favorite that will have your family clamoring for more! Get our Baked Halibut Puttanesca with Crostini recipe.

2. Fish and Chips

One of the best uses for halibut is fish and chips. The fish stays moist inside this puffy, crispy beer batter, and once the batter comes together, the dish is ready in a flash. Serve it with freshly fried potatoes, tangy malt vinegar, and a creamy coleslaw. It will be a taste of merry olde England right in your kitchen. Get the recipe here.

3. Asian-Spiced Halibut

For those who have invested in a sous vide machine, this recipe is a keeper. Halibut is marinated in soy, sesame, and lime before being plied with aromatics like cilantro and green onions. It’s then cooked gently in a vacuum sealed bag in a water bath before being served over rice. It’s tender, it’s fragrant, and it’s a showstopper! Get the recipe here.

4. Halibut with Orange-Parsley Butter and Succotash

This summery recipe pulls out the grill and all of summer’s fresh produce. Freshly grilled halibut is topped with a verdant, tangy compound butter and then laid over a bacon and corn filled succotash. Feel free to supplement the succotash with your garden’s vegetables for a personalized touch. Get our Halibut with Orange-Parsley Butter and Succotash recipe.

5. Halibut Cakes

These golden brown cakes take some time to make but are well worth the effort. The halibut is gently poached and chilled before being flaked with a fork and mixed with mustard, miso, panko, and aromatics like green onions and cilantro. It’s then coated in cornmeal and shallow fried until it is crispy without and creamy within. This Asian-inflected dish would be delicious with some sriracha-tinged tartar sauce. Get the recipe here.

6. Grilled Halibut with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Because who doesn’t have extra basil exploding out of their gardens by the end of the summer? This simple recipe relies on fresh halibut, garlic, basil, capers, and little else. Add in some olive oil and seasonings and you have a gourmet dinner with ingredients that are already in your fridge or backyard. Get the recipe here.

7. Panko-Parmesan Crusted Halibut

Fish fingers aren’t just for kids anymore! Coat hunks of halibut in garlicky, parmesan-infused panko breadcrumbs and then bake until golden brown. They are crispy outside, mild in flavor, and perfect with tartar sauce or atop fresh greens topped with a lemony or Caesar dressing. Get the recipe here.

8. Pan-Roasted Halibut with Caper Vinaigrette

This halibut is tender with an uber-crispy skin from being roasted quickly in a screaming hot pan and then finished in the oven. It’s then topped with a lemony, creamy caper dressing. Serve with a lightly dressed salad and crisp white wine for an elegant dinner party entrée. Get our Pan-Roasted Halibut with Caper Vinaigrette recipe.

9. Pita-Crusted Halibut

Perfect for those pita chip crumbles at the bottom of the bag! This would also work well with tortilla chips or potato chips–let your imagination run wild! Serve with risotto or mashed potatoes. Get the recipe here.

10. Oven-Roasted Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Thyme

This low carb recipe is so delicious that you won’t even realize that it’s healthy. Halibut is tossed with lemon juice, wine, and thyme butter and then baked with sautéed cabbage and fresh tomatoes. The result is elegant and subtle–ideal for a dinner for one or a huge party. Get the recipe here.

11. Parchment-Baked Halibut with Cilantro and Ginger

Baking halibut in parchment seals in the moisture and flavor without adding a lot of extra fat. Simply place the fish with cilantro, ginger, and olive oil in a parchment pouch. Then, seal the pouch and bake gently in the oven. The fish emerges juicy, fragrant, and delicious. Get the recipe here.


More Food Truck Regulation Worries LA Taco Truck

POLITICS— The DC Food Truck Association put out a statement this week that the proposed new regulations would make trucks illegal in most of the downtown area. They've created a map to prove their point, too. The Association has scheduled an open meeting April 1 for all food truck operators to discuss the proposed laws. [EaterWire, FTF]

NEW TRUCKS— Food Truck Fiesta has the latest on two new trucks hitting the streets in Montgomery County: LA Taco Truck, run by restaurant industry vets cooking up Southwestern cuisine, and Tempo Di Pasta, offering "gourmet Italian food." [FTF]

TRUCK REVIEWS— Brightest Young Things' Keep on Trucking column decides to single out five favorite food trucks this week. That includes Far East Taco Grille, Hula Girl Truck, Basil Thyme (which is soon retiring), CapMac and Fojol Bros.' Merlinda. [BYT]


Absolutely divine. well seasoned and crunchy fish. Cole slaw was superb and the remoulade sauce was fantastic. French bread was airy and fresh. Also

Absolutely divine. well seasoned and crunchy fish. Cole slaw was superb and the remoulade sauce was fantastic. French bread was airy and fresh. Also had the sausage and chicken gumbo and shrimp and grits which my co worker shared everything so we could have many options (yes we're are greedy and she would agree with me)and I am in love! Will visit them every time they are near Farragut/19 & K.


Tuesday 6/21- Basil Thyme (Pasta)

Today is a special posting of FTF blog, the wifey was able to join me for lunch today and agreed to be a guest contributor to today's post!

We tried "Basil Thyme", which is pretty new on the DC truck scene (less than two weeks), but despite their newbieness they ran a smooth and tasty operation selling a good variety of high quality pasta with generous proportions and at a decent price! According to their website they create the pasta fresh every day, not just the sauce but the actual pasta itself, and after tasting it I definitely believe it!

The pasta was very fresh tasting, and you could actually TASTE the pasta, it had perfect texture and softness. The Pesto sauce was also very good, if not perfect. It was not overpowering and had the right balance of basil and oil, and was not too oily or greasy. The pasta was also topped with a good amount of cheese which really tied it all together quite nicely.

The salad was definitely well put together and was not an after thought as often side salads are it contained high end ingredients, including tomatoes, cucumber, olives, greens and a tangy dressing. The slice of french bread was a nice touch and was useful to help push the pasta on the fork!

I am not a big fan of cannoli as I find them either too rich or too sweet for my taste, but I actually really enjoyed this cannoli, the casing was softer than usual and the fresh ricotta filling was soft and creamy and not too rich or sweet.

The truck staff was very friendly and pleasant to deal with, my only suggestions would be that they use more environmental friendly containers instead of the plastic containers they are using, and stop automatically putting orders in plastic bags. Also it would be good if they posted the days menu on the truck, which they did not do today.

Overall I give the Basil Thyme truck a very high rating and will definitely be looking to try it again as it was a delicious and filling lunch at a very good value!

My wife had the Beef Lasagna pictured below and agreed to contribute to my blog by posting a review of her meal:


Food Truck Thursdays in Alexandria Basil Thyme is Back

EVENTS—Throughout the month of August, Alexandria's Hilton Mark Center is hosting Food Truck Thursdays at lunchtime starting at 11 a.m. Trucks like The Big Cheese and Red Hook Lobster are expected to here proceeds benefit charity. [EaterWire]

NEWS— Tim Carman has updates on two popular food trucks. The good news: Basil Thyme's owner has decided to keep his truck on the streets now that the city passed regulations that work for him. Meanwhile the El Floridano truck is saying goodbye due to the owner's larger commitment of running Mothership restaurant. [WaPo]

NEW TRUCKS— Food Truck Fiesta reports that Spitfire Mediterranean has hit the streets in Fairfax. Meanwhile Dolci Gelati , a gelato supplier with a big wholesale presence and a store in Takoma Park, has launched its first food truck in the District serving gelato, sorbet, pastries, coffee, and even pet-friendly items. They've got a new business partner, Sierra Georgia, to help them with the venture. [FTF, EaterWire]


Accu Slim

The Instant Pot® Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator is designed for the gourmet who strives to create &lsquorestaurant quality dishes&rsquo in the comfort of their home. Professional chefs and high-end restaurants have been relying on Sous Vide cooking to achieve that perfect tenderness for decades.

Instant Pot&rsquos Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator has a touch-screen digital control panel, a stainless steel element cover, a handle for better usability, and a secure stand-up design.

Developed to be easy-to-use to allow you to prepare the perfect dish. Ideal for entertaining, preparing food in individual pouches provides you the ability to easily cater to personal tastes, and dietary requirements all while preparing your succulent dishes ahead of time.

Create Quality Dishes

Prepares high-end restaurant quality dishes at home, turning home cooks into gourmet chefs. Food is cooked evenly edge to edge with no risk of overcooking, natural flavors are intensified, food is healthier, more tender, juicy and tastier.

Consistent Cooking

creates and maintains an even and accurately controlled cooking water-bath for perfect cooking results each and every time. Can be used on meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and desserts.

Adjustable Cooking Time and Temperature

cooking times range from 1 minute to 72 hours and temperature ranges from 68°F to 203°F (20°C to 95°C), temperature control accuracy between 1°F/0.1°C.

Easy-to-Use

easy-to-read display, touch-screen digital controls, lightweight stainless steel with a rubber coating on the handle.

Clamps securely

to the 6 and 8 Quart inner pot either in or out of the Instant Pot®, and can be used with or without an Instant Pot®. The adjustable stainless steel clamp has a maximum clamp height of approximately 8”.

Active Pump System

circulates water without relying on convection currents, resulting in uniformly heated water bath free of hot or cool spots.

Includes a 12V DC motor

works extremely quietly and has enhanced durability in comparison to standard AC motors used. Motor stops when it comes out of the water.

Easy-to-clean

with secure stand up design and removable stainless steel skirt, almost no cleaning required, simply wash and air dry the skirt (Note: Removable skirt only available in North America) – (120V, 800W)

What is sous vide cooking? Is it healthy?

‘Sous vide’ (French for ‘under vacuum’) refers to the process of sealing food into air-tight pouches and immersing them in a precisely controlled water bath for an extended period of time. This cooking method allows you to achieve tender, perfectly cooked results each and every time.

Sealing food in air-tight pouches permits it to cook in its own juices. This means food retains its vitamins and minerals and natural flavors are intensified, so food is healthy, delicious, juicy and tender.

Does the Accu Slim only work with Instant Pot electric pressure cookers?

No, the immersion circulator will work within any cooking container (plastic, metal or glass) where you can secure the clamp to the side and maintain the water level between the MIN and MAX lines as indicated on the cooker’s body. That said, using the immersion circulator with an Instant Pot will help to maintain a consistent cooking temperature, as the cooker base provides insulation and prevents heat loss.

What do I need to get started?

Getting started is easy as most materials are available in your home:

  • Instant Accu Slim
  • Water bath container
  • Air-tight pouches
  • Food thermometer
  • Sealing machine (optional)

Note: The Instant Pot inner pot is an ideal water bath container, and when placed in the Instant Pot cooker base, provides superior heat retention.

Is it safe to cook in plastic bags? Where can I find them?

Bags made of polyethylene and polypropylene, that are labeled BPA-free, are perfectly safe for sous vide cooking. Always check the packaging to ensure the bags are food safe, and avoid using bags that do not indicate BPA-free.

You can find food-safe sealable plastic bags in any grocery store.

Vacuum-sealable food bags are safe to freeze and cook in.

If you prefer to avoid plastics altogether, water-tight silicone pouches make a fantastic alternative.

Note: Eggs are one of the few foods you do not have to vacuum before cooking Sous Vide as they are in their own watertight shell. For scrambled eggs, use an air tight food pouch for cooking.

Can the Accu Slim sit on an angle in the water bath?

No, the Accu Slim must sit perpendicular to the water level in order to circulate the water for proper cooking.

Do I need to cover the water bath?

No, the immersion circulator maintains the water temperature with a high enough degree of accuracy that a lid is not required to hold the heat.

Is cooking at a low temperature actually safe?

Yes. Almost all potentially harmful organisms are eliminated at 130°F / 54.5°C. Since the majority of sous vide cooking is done between 130°F / 54.5°C and 195°F / 95°C, the food will be safe.

Cooking food to reduce the risk of food-borne illness is dependent on both temperature and time. The lower the temperature, the longer the cooking time. Refer to the Sous Vide Cooking Timetable .

Can I cook different types of food in the same water bath? Should I flavor the water bath?

If the food types are all to be cooked at the same temperature and are each sealed in air-tight pouches, you can absolutely cook multiple dishes at once. The flavors and aromas will not transfer!

Note: There must be enough room in the cooking container for water to circulate between pouches.

It is not necessary to flavor the water bath as the liquid does not penetrate the bag during the cooking process. Add spices or marinades to the food inside the bag, and seal tightly.

Does it matter if my food pouches float?

Yes. For even cooking, the food contents should be fully submerged in the cooking bath. If your one or more of your pouches float, remove the floating pouch, open it, squeeze out as much air as possible and reseal.

What should I do if a pouch goes underwater?

Carefully remove the pouch from the water bath and verify that no water has entered into the pouch. If water has entered the pouch, simply pour it out and adjust the seasoning as required. Squeeze out as much air as possible, then seal the pouch tightly and submerge it once again (ensuring the seal remains above water), and continue the cooking process.

Where can I find recipes for sous vide cooking?

The Instant Pot App is available on the Apple Store or the Google Play Store, or scan the QR code from your mobile devices.

If you don’t already own an authorized Instant Pot cookbook —pick one up today!


Will Artley's Pizzeria Orso Menu Basil Thyme Towed

FALLS CHURCH—Now that chef Will Artley is installed over at Pizzeria Orso, the restaurant has introduced a brand new menu. It'll still focus on pizza, but Artley has added a variety of small plates to include meat, fish, vegetables and pasta. So things like meatballs, grilled octopus and smoked chickpeas. There are also new pizzas like a wild mushroom, mozzarella, fontina and parmesan pie named The Fun Guy. [EaterWire]

FOOD TRUCKS—DCist reports that the Basil Thyme truck was towed and impounded this afternoon at Metro Center. Owner Brian Farrell explains "he was told he owed the city about $1,000 in outstanding parking tickets, most of which were incurred from extended stays in parking-meter spaces." [DCist]

IMAGE INTERLUDE—To your right, please see a photograph of Top Chef alums Paul Qui and Ed Lee from the most recent season, who were in town over the weekend for a cooking demo. But, of course, they also ate things while they were in town and an Eater tipster sends over a photo of the pair at Ray's Hell Burger. So they obviously got some good recommendations. [Eater Tipline]



Comments:

  1. Rob

    I am sorry, this option does not suit me. Who else can suggest?

  2. Nizilkree

    What words... super, a brilliant idea

  3. Jarrad

    It's ... such a casual coincidence

  4. Marsden

    I apologize for interfering, but, in my opinion, there is another way to resolve the issue.

  5. Grole

    I am final, I am sorry, but it does not approach me. There are other variants?

  6. Mut

    Obviously you were wrong ...

  7. Tet

    Why are there so few comments on such a good posting? :)

  8. Coyan

    Thank you very much



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