Monday, January 29, 2007

A Friendship Blooms in the Lavender Fields

I was looking for lavender. They had it. A friend of mine who knew us both put us in touch as I was shooting for Façonnable and looking for the quintessential Provençal shots to provide the bling for their us marketing. And so began a lovely friendship.

Immediately and warmly, I was welcomed into their family and their family of friends. In fact, the first night that I had arrived, they had invited me to dinner on a mid summer night. We dined on the terrace of their centuries-old farmhouse under a canopy of stars as course after course appeared from somewhere within the house. Wine flowed and with it, the laughter and chatter that accompanies gatherings of friends. I only had enough French under my belt to be able to get around sufficiently in my travels, but conversation still eluded me at that point so I was mostly listening...and smiling in that American fashion of “politesse”. There was a point in the evening, sometime after dessert that my jet lag kicked in and as the voices of foreign speakers swirled around me, I realized that my head was about to drop into my dessert plate. Recognizing the potential disaster of comportment in this eventuality, I begged off to return to my hotel in the village.

It would seem that from that evening forward, I had made my first friends in France. There would be several more of those dinners on the terrace where the evening would be filled with traditional Provençal fare - a feast for the eyes and the belly.

Last weekend, I made the lovely drive up from Aix to their home in the lavender country. There is a shift that happens for me as I approach the vineyards of that region. Vineyard after vineyard stretches along the roadside from which one can see the vines that are currently being prepared for this year’s harvest. Occasionally there is the little road off the beaten path with a small hand-made sign that indicates farm fresh goat cheese or lavender honey. Some of the smaller wineries remind me of Napa Valley many lifetimes ago, when tasting would happen with the wine grower/maker in his living room and to get to the tasting, one would have to navigate the signs of life - family life, that is: dogs, tricycles, laundry hanging out, watering cans left aside a pot – perhaps when a telephone rang. Life happens here and the wine-making is a part of it.

And after meandering through vineyards, various agricultural patches and the twists and turns of ancient village rues, I begin to pass lavender fields and Grignan appears in the distance. A right turn down a narrow dirt road takes me through oak woods to the home of these friends. Genevieve, who feels like the steady and quiet heartbeat of the group, seems to have endless energy and stays well ahead of three sons, and husband Maurice, who sold a successful lavender business a few years ago. Although there are still lavender fields to manage, he fills his time with other creative projects as well.

Currently, he is working on a serious remodeling project with (and for) his oldest son (who has continued on successfully in the family’s former lavender business) on an old farmhouse in the middle of an oak forest not far from the village.

(Of course, it only makes sense that the walls in this home are now insulated with lavender!)

And then of course, there is the task of keeping up with two other sons, one a fireman in the village of Grignan, and the other in Los Angeles engaged in his first year of work after successfully completing his MBA at Pepperdine University (which I always thought was a wise choice: when leaving France for the US, choose to go to school where you have a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean...although I think his reasons for choosing Pepperdine were all formulated before he even knew about the view!) This is a family that welcomes new friends with enthusiasm and generosity.

I caught up on some of the latest news while walking with Maurice. As lavender fields slept, quietly renewing themselves for the bloom that is to be, ancient stone structures whispered fragments of stories from centuries past...and our footfalls along the path and quiet conversation was simply woven into the tapestry that is life in this village. (On this mild mid-January day, we were not the only people out for a stroll through the little roads on the edge of the village.)

The Christmas holidays a year ago were spent with all of them eating fois gras and drinking champagne and hanging out with the rest of their family members and friends. Once again, course after course was brought from the kitchen. Genevieve makes it look so easy.

One of the dishes served over the course of that holiday feast was a Courge Dans La Peau (Pumpkin in its Skin). A gratin prepared inside of a pumpkin, it is baked and comes out looking like a piece of ceramic art that would be very expensive to purchase at an art show to grace a coffee table or kitchen corner. But it’s what comes out of this beauty when the lid comes off that is something really special.

On a cold winter night this would go well with with a salad and a glass of wine...or as a side dish for roasted chicken or turkey. Last weekend it was served with a roasted goose...but before that goose ever hit the table, the weekend fare included a rich watercress soup, a terrine of chicken and truffles

(they have a friend who sells truffles and have access to beautiful, dark round gems far more beautiful and seductive than anything one might see in stark relief against the creamy white pages of the Dean and DeLuca catalogue), a tender mâche salad with a vinaigrette made from the “house vinegar” (from Genevieve's pottery crock of homemade vinegar), rich and smoky braised endives, garlicky green beans, and a mushroom sauté of a local harvest of dark and fragrant mushrooms.

As I prepared to return to Aix after a much-needed weekend in the country (given my recent push to finish required assignments for the end of the semester), Genevieve put together a "care package" that just kicked my little French kitchen up a notch: a mother of vinegar so I, too, can dress my salads with "vinaigrette du maison" and a stash of herbs de provence...some of the herbs taken from one son's garden, the remaining from another. Special treasures that link my little French kitchen to Genevieve's.

My first glimpse of Grignan was in an evening's wash of gold, just like this. As I shot this image last weekend, I thought of that first evening back in 2000. I had no idea what was ahead of me. I had no idea that the people I would spend that evening with under the trees and stars would become the friends I have today...and I had not yet realized the true bounty of Provençal fare.

The village has not changed in appearance since that first shot. My life, on the other hand...well, as the French say, "Tout est possible!" (All is possible.) The momentum of that change really picked up speed after that first visit to Grignan.

Bon Appétit!

Courge dans la Peau

1 medium sized pumpkin, seeded and cleaned (with the top cut to fit for baking)
1 baguette of day-old bread, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups of gruyere cheese, grated
1 small container of crème fraiche
salt, pepper and herbs de provence to taste

Cut top from pumpkin (to be replaced as a lid for baking.) Clean seeds from inside and layer bread, cheese, crème fraiche, herbs, salt and pepper in two or three sets of layers (depending on size of pumpkin). Firmly fit lid onto pumpkin and place in shallow pan. Place in 400º oven for an hour or so or until the flesh of the pumpkin is soft to a knife point.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stewing in Provence

On a cold November night in Nice many years ago, we were two jet-lagged and hungry souls finding our way in the South of France as first-time travelers to Provence. He was a bit conversant in French, et moi: pas du tout (not at all)! We had pored over guides and maps and sketched out a rough outline of our serendipitous tour but when it came to eating, gourmand that he was, he had the reins of finding our food...or at least finding the place where we would sit down to eat that food.

A fabulous cook, this man. He also enjoyed the finer things in life and was willing to go to any lengths if he "sniffed" a potential food pleasure. As a result, his instincts led him to some extraordinary places that were well-off the beaten path. On this particular night, though, I was hungry enough to simply stop at anything (short of the two-storey McDonald's on Promenade des Anglais) as a survival issue and leave the hunt for the next culinary adventure for the proverbial "tomorrow". He was hearing nothing of it (and I mumbled under my muffler against the cold that he must have eaten in secret sometime earlier to maintain this hunt with such unflinching stamina!)

As we trekked through the streets of Nice, there had been certain criteria established for our search: a packed restaurant in which no English was being spoken. If we walked into a place and heard English, we (he) took that to mean that the place was for tourists and we (he) would have none of that. And so we continued to wander through Nice, perusing the menu boards outside restaurants that looked interesting, poking an ear inside the door to listen for a language other than our own and determining “thumbs up”...or down. On and on this went. I’m sure at some point I must have fainted from hunger and had to be dragged from place to place (just kidding...sort of...). But then, on a tiny, easy-to-miss side street that skirts the main market area of Old Nice, there was a window out of which poured a warm golden glow. Parting the wooden beads that hang in front of the door with our noses, we pressed our faces to the glass to see that the place was packed! Of course, it’s not so hard to look "packed" when you only have 12 to 15 small square tables lined up against the opposing walls of the place and people seated on little backless stools! The menu board listed Provençal specialties that made our mouths water. As we reached through the beads for the door handle to poke our heads in for a quick "listen" to finalize the decision, the aromas wafting from the open kitchen at the back of this little place were enough to lift us off of our feet, cartoon style. I had an image similar to that of the "Goofy" character in the Disney movies: our bodies, having been lifted a few feet off the ground, would only have to follow our noses as they were seduced by a visible aroma that danced before us drawing us deeper and deeper into the place! But it gets even better: we heard only French! This was the place! Hallelujah! Just as my vision was starting to blur and my speech was becoming less and less coherent as the darkness of hunger began to close in on me...voilà! (And this search process couldn’t have been too pleasant for him as well, mind you...I’m not my typical cheerful self when I’m too hungry.)

By now it was very late in the evening and although we had missed the main dinner "crush", (at which point we would have been certainly turned away) there was still a wait for a table. After several minutes, we were seated at one of those little tables covered with a red checked cloth on a couple of those small stools with just enough of a cushion to take you through a meal without wiggling to get more comfortable. Nose-to-nose we were with one another and elbow-to-elbow with the diners on either side of us. It was definitely cozy but everyone was friendly, striking a nice balance between making contact and keeping to themselves. The waiter/manager of the place is an artist in the other part of his life and has that polite edge that conveys that his role has more meaning than one might guess. There are no menus so a smallish blackboard with the selections of the day is brought to the table for review before ordering.

Over the course of the evening, we would learn that the chef, Dominique Le Stanc (listed among the top chefs of France), had formerly been at the Hotel Negresco earning 2 Michelin stars during his reign at its Chantecler restaurant. After his successful run at the Negresco, he had opted for a slower lifestyle with weekends off and the ability to work with his wife, Danielle. The owners of La Merenda, who were ready to retire, were just waiting for the “right buyer” who would have the desire to continue the tradition of the restaurant rather than change it. The connection was made, a contract was signed and a new era of La Merenda began to take shape.

With a commitment to keep things simple – from the fresh produce purchased at the marché a few steps away and loaded into the box on the back of his bicycle to the straightforward preparations of traditional Provençal dishes – that simplicity continues into the nuts and bolts of how the place is run: no checks, no credit, no phones. It isn’t just the elbow-to-elbow seating or the ability to view the man himself at work in the open kitchen space as he prepares your meal that keeps people coming back for more. Perhaps it’s the consistent sense of simplicity apparent from the business operation to the food on the plates that feeds a deeper hunger than the most obvious one.

Here is where I had my first taste of fried fresh sardines. It was here that I discovered a pesto pasta that made little tears in my eyes. (So taken with it I was, that the lovely artist/waiter/manager told me a couple of secrets about what the chef does to finish this dish...but you’ll have to come back another time for that, because...) this was also the first place I had ever tasted Beef Daube. It put any and all beef stews that I had grown up with to shame and I never returned to those old tired and watery stews. This was something different. Perfect flavors. Perfect technique.

Cooked in a well-sealed pot, Beef Daube offers a rich, winy broth that cooks down into the meat over hours. The result is a hearty plate of flavorful vegetables and meat that melts at the touch of a fork. With a hint of orange and the complexity brought about by a mélange of spices...well, simply put: it is a lovely mouthful.

If that’s not enough to get you on the next plane to Provence, then the next best thing is cooking it up on your own.

I like to serve this rich, wintery dish with oven-roasted potato “fries” as the chef at La Merenda does. Another friend of mine, who prepares Julia Child’s version of daube, serves it with steamed baby potatoes. My ”favorite fromager” suggests potato gnocchi or a gratin of macaroni. I’ve also had this served with pasta but I’m just a potato-kind-of-girl. I guess if it’s good enough for M. Le Stanc and Julia...well, I’m okay with that company!

My friend, and new vineyard owner (!), Jean-Marc Espinasse, suggests the following wines in the following order to accompany your next Daube de Boeuf. Check them out and see what else is cookin' at French-Wine-A-Day.

Châteauneuf du Pape

(This was a "welcome-back-to-Provence" daube for friends who had arrived from Toronto for their annual six months of "French nesting" in a little village at the base of Mont Sainte Victoire. Welcome, my friends! It’s good to have you back in the 'hood!)

Bon Appétit!

Adapted from Savoring Provence (Williams-Sonoma)

Daube de Boeuf

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC)

2 pounds stew meat
3 yellow onions
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2-inch lengths
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
5 peppercorns, lightly crushed
4 whole cloves
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 bouquet garni of bay leaves and thyme
1 bottle of red wine, such as Bandol or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 orange zest strips, about 1/2-inch wide
3-4 thick slices of bacon, chopped (we get small packages of lardons here, which make this part really easy!)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut beef into roughly equal pieces. Place the beef in a large dish and add 1 of the onions and the carrots, garlic, parsley, celery peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg and bouquet garni. Add wine and vinegar, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, remove the beef from the refrigerator. Pass the marinade mixture through a sieve placed over a bowl to capture the liquid. Remove the onion and carrots from the sieve. Pat the beef and vegetables dry on paper towels. Pick out the bouquet garni and spices from the sieve, placing the peppercorns and cloves into a mesh tea ball, cheesecloth OR muslin bag and add the orange zest strips to whatever you are using to contain these ingredients. This parcel of spices will be dropped into the daube pot before it goes into the oven.

In a large, heavy Dutch oven or sauté pan, add the bacon and brown to render the fat.
Add the olive oil and the onion from the marinade. Working the meat in batches, add the beef and brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes. Return all the beef to the pan. Add the reserved liquid and carrots from the marinade, the remaining onion wedges, the tomatoes, the bouquet garni and the “bag” of spices to the pot. If necessary, pour in enough water just to reach the top of the meat, then cover the pot with foil, sealing it tightly, before securing the lid onto the pot. (Traditionally, a daube pot is sealed with a paste made of flour and water. Happily, I found the foil seal worked very well.)

Place covered pot into a 350ºF oven and cook for one hour. Lower the temperature to 250º F (120ºC) and cook an additional 3 to 4 hours (this time is very flexible after the 4 hour mark), until the meat falls apart easily. (During the last hour of cooking, I take the foil off and determine to continue “covered or uncovered” from this point based on the consistency of the sauce.)

Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the bouquet garni and spice bag from the pot. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately with steamed or oven roasted potatoes, gnocchi or pasta. (Give them all a try and then decide which will star alongside your daube!)

Serves 6-8

Monday, January 08, 2007

Of Kings and Cakes...and Beans?!

Bonne Année tout le monde! (Happy New Year to everyone!)

With a load of various conjugated French verbs still dancing in my head (I can vaguely remember when it used to be sugar plums!), I am enjoying the New Year with its promise and potential. What a difference a year makes! I am surviving winter (an easy thing to do when the temps are more spring-like than anything resembling the winters just passed), I am settled into my very sweet little nest (and have even managed to enjoy that lovely courtyard on a few winter days), I am actually understanding conversations I overhear in the street (one such conversation between two young men who were commenting on the rip in the knee of my jeans should have made me blush or sent me into an indignant rage instead of the private celebratory
“Yesssss!” that I whispered to myself after passing them…and just for the record: that response was related to my ability to understand everything they said and NOT to the content of their exchange!), and I can now have a bit of a chat with the check out people in stores without breaking into a cold sweat and looking like a deer caught in headlights. Yes, things are definitely looking up and I think I’m going to like living on this planet!

On those occasions when I’ve initiated arguments in my head with sarcastic provocations like: “Exactly whose idea was it to enroll in a full-time university program?!?!” it is most satisfying to begin decoding my surroundings and actually forming words that I can string together and have tumble out as fully developed strands of French that are actually received and understood on the other side. Those moments serve to motivate me to put my arms around this lovely language even more and break out of my awkward miming stance to actually join in on the collective conversation. Yay me! (Although I was humbled the other day by another student in my class who was very pleased to have understood an entire enclosure of intricate explanations for a medication she had been prescribed...while I, on the other hand, had recently felt a surge of pride for having understood - without having to translate in my head - a poster for a children’s puppet show. The fact that I actually tested into the highest intermediate level is still a mystery to me - especially when I measure differences like that!)

Needless to say, there hasn’t been a lot of cookin’ going on chez La Fourchette! As I was studying those aforementioned verb conjugations and writing exams for my photography and literature and Provençal fairy tales classes (which is far more psychologically/sociologically based than it sounds), I was aware of the rapid passage of an autumn and early winter of food-based adventures in my petite cuisine. The Beaujolais nouveau has arrived (and passed its prime), the 13 desserts have starred on many a Provençal table and the blé of Sainte Barbe has been sprouted to foretell a prosperous year (given my blé harvest, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good year for La Fourchette!)

As I pass the seafood trays lined up at Les Deux Garçons, I'm reminded of the evening spent slurping up fresh briny oysters that smelled like the ocean, laughing and drinking champagne with friends.

There were Gregorian Chants in a little chapel in centre ville at midnight on Christmas eve followed by the Buches de Noël

that made their appearances to add a hint of woodsy charm to holiday tables after ducks and geese had been roasted to perfection and enjoyed with friends and family.

But at this point in our brand new year, it seems fitting that La Fourchette kicks off 2007 with a royal bang! ‘Tis the season of the Galette de Roi, or King Cake outside of my little French ‘hood. Every boulangerie in town has an array of Galette de Roi in their windows and when I went to dinner at the home of friends the other evening, their cat greeted me wearing a lovely gold crown...part of the tradition of the Gâteau de Roi…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Dipping back into some local history, Aix en Provence was built on thermal sources by the Romans – in fact, I live in a building that was built on one of those ancient Roman sources - so there is quite a connection. Let’s bring them into mix to honor the roots of this place:

Story has it that in pagan times, the solstice celebration (honoring the Sun God) included a big party complete with a cake that had a token hidden within. The lucky person who found the token in the cake would be recognized as the leader of the tribe for the next year. (Yay!) I imagine there may have been a fair amount of hearty partying! But there was a twist to this honor: the following year, the leader of the tribe was sacrificed and his blood distributed in the fields to assure a good harvest. Next party starts at this point...there's another cake, another token...and, get the idea.

Fast forward to the late 3rd century during the rule of the Roman emperor, Aurelian. That ancient solstice feast had been taken over by the Romans still honoring the Sun God. The “official” birthday of sol invictus (the Invincible Sun) was declared to fall on December 25 (which had been established as the winter solstice during Julius Caesar’s reign). It didn’t take long for the Church to take this day for its own as they raided the territory and seized everything they could get their hands on – apparently holidays were included in the booty.

A century later, St. Augustine would romanticize and embellish the story of the Epiphany to include the Three Wise Men who visited an infant Jesus in Bethlehem on the 12th day following his birth (it just so happened that he shared a birthday with the Invincible Sun). The kings named Melchior, Gaspard et Balthazar, represented mulitple ethnic origins et regions. This 12th day would be established by the Church to celebrate the revelation of the divinity of the Christ to mankind. The visit of the kings bearing gifts would give the holiday its royal associations (and who among us doesn’t appreciate a royal connection now and again, really?!)

As time passed, gifts were given to children to commemorate the gifts given by the kings to the infant in Bethlehem. The great houses of Europe brought a new sense of glitter and glam to the holiday by featuring magicians, acrobats, jugglers and other entertainers.

Although there are variations on this theme throughout all of the European cultures, the common thread that exists is the “cake and king” connection. In France, the Galette de Roi is used to celebrate the coming of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts 12 days after Christmas. Now known as the Feast of Epiphany or 12th Night, the special treat is a French-style pastry filled with frangipane (a paste made from almonds, eggs, butter and sugar). Hidden inside is a charm and/or a bean.

The person who finds the charm in their piece of cake is determined to be the "king" for the night. The king is crowned (yes, these cakes come complete with crowns!) and depending on the group, the king is either in charge of providing the next party, the next cake (for instance, for the office), is stuck paying the bill for the current celebration, or gets to call the toasts and lead the drinking. In just about all cases, the cake and king are linked as good luck omens for the year ahead. The cake and the bean became symbols of fertility and harvest, health and prosperity. Cool huh?! (And nobody is sacrificed after his or her reign these days. We've come a long way!) And what about the dried bean also hidden within each cake? Well, she's the queen. (Okay, so maybe we haven't come as far as I thought!?)

These mock kings (and their queens) have been reigning over the winter holiday season’s festivities in Europe for centuries, from way back in the day when they ruled over the feasts honoring the pagan solstice celebrations.

Wanting to join in on the festivities (as well as provide La Fourchette with a bit of sustenance!), my little Galette de Roi came from the boulangerie just across the street from me. (In fact, I just learned that this boulangerie is called "La Madeleine" from the card that accompanied it. Everyone I know refers to it as "The-Boulangerie-Across-The-Street-From-You"!)

The first hidden treasure found: the bean. Queen for a Day!

And then, as I was enjoying a little slice with my breakfast tea, I bit into a small bearded character peeking out from under that lovely layer of almond paste. (I've taken this as a good sign of what's ahead in the new year!) Climbing out from the frangipane, he introduced himself as Gaspard and having had a chance to clean up, he's not half bad. He's taken up residence at the base of the pot of hyacinths that are dressing up my desk.

These cakes are a part of gatherings among friends and family throughout the month of January. My first was enjoyed with friends (and their royal cat!) last week. The next one for me will be shared with another set of friends who have just arrived from Toronto and will be coming in for dinner this weekend. (We'll have to see if Gaspar ends up with any room-mates as the season progresses.)

And in keeping with the tradition at La Fourchette, you'll find a recipe for Galette de Roi at the end of the post. I've not tried this at home...and will probably continue to find may way to a boulangerie somewhere nearby. But just in case you are wanting to give it a whirl...

By the way, I found this rather charming little verse that goes along with the season. I’ve gotta say, a country that has cheery little songs written in honor of butter is the right place for my soul!

J'aime la galette**,
Savez-vous comment ?
Quand elle bien faite
Avec du beurre dedans.
Trala la la la la la la lère,
Tra la la la la la la la la,
Tra la la la la la la la lère,
Tra la la la la la la la la.


I like cake.
Do you know how?
When it is well done
With butter inside.
Tra la….blah, blah, blah….(It loses something in the translation, but you've gotta love that “butter” line, huh?!)

In the meantime, The Bean, Gaspar and I wish all of you a Bonne Année and send you all good wishes in the new year. Fill it with promise...and hope.
(Aww go ahead: fill it with butter!)

Bon Appétit!

** A petite detail: Apparently, the galette version of the puff pastry filled with almond paste is from the north. Here in the south, we see that as well as the gâteau version of a brioche ring topped with red and green candied fruit and sugar. Either way you slice it, it's a seasonal celebration I'll be looking forward to annually!

La Galette des Rois

Puff Pastry Tart filled with Almond cream.

1/4 cup almond paste
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 Tablespoons flour
1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package
1 dried bean (lima or kidney beans work well)
1 “king” charm or a second bean
2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter large baking sheet (not dark metal).

1. In a food processor, purée the almond paste, sugar, butter and pinch of salt until smooth.

2. Add 1 egg, vanilla and almond extracts and purée until incorporated.

3. Add the flour and pulse to mix it in.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11-1/2 inch square.

5. Invert an 11-inch pie plate onto the square and cut out a round shape by tracing the outline of the pie plate with the tip of a paring knife.

6. Brush the flour from both sides of the round and place it on the buttered baking sheet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

7. Repeat the procedure with the second square of puff pastry, but leave it on the floured work surface.

8. Beat the remaining egg and brush some of it on top of the second round. Score decoratively all over the top using the tip of a paring knife and make several small slits all the way through the pastry to create steam vents.

9. Remove the first sheet from the refrigerator and brush some of the egg in a 1-inch border around the edge. Mound the almond cream in the center, spreading slightly.

10. Bury the beans in the almond cream. Place the scored round on top and press the edges together.

11. Bake the galette in the lower third of the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and dust with the confectioners' sugar.

12. Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and return galette to cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the edge is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool sligthly.

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