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eG Foodblog: rarerollingobject (2011) - Mealtimes at the University of


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Hello there! Talk about a hard act to follow, Zeemanb! But anyway - welcome, everyone, to a week of shopping, cooking and eating in Sydney. Woolloomooloo, to be exact - an area of Sydney basically in the central business district and on the waterfront, steeped in both Aboriginal and colonial history, and my home turf.

The University of Woolloomooloo reference in the foodblog's subtitle, is, (for the fans) from the Monty Python sketch of the Bruces - this sketch was the genesis of the great Monty Python

that accompanied many a beer swilling night in my own university days.

Not many takers on my teaser pics, though kayswv and Kerry Beal were on the right track recognising the naval shipyard; that's the Garden Island naval base on one side of Woolloomooloo Bay.

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On the other side are the rock formations you can see to the left, jutting out to a peninsula into the harbour, called Mrs Macquarie's Chair, after the wife of one of the chief governors of Sydney when it was a penal colony - she had a chair carved into the rock at the very tip of the headland so she could survey the ships come in and out of the harbour. She really was a lynchpin in the early (European-led) economic development of Sydney in its transition from penal colony to free town, and I think of her keen mercantile eye when I walk out there most weekends.

My second teaser pic really speaks to the fact that these days I get most of my food inspiration from the web (including from you guys! Sometimes mostly from you guys..) and often whack my iPad onto the fridge with its magnetised case to follow a recipe, or inventory what's in the fridge, or look desperately for dinner inspiration.

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You'll see why I'm into magnetised spice jars, measuring spoons and whatever else I can attach rare earth magnets to and whack on the fridge when I share some more photos of my very space-poor kitchen.

So apart from that compelling prospect, I'm hoping this week to show you some of the interesting food scene of central and Eastern parts of the city, take you on some of my marathon food-mission adventures (I'm an obsessed food-shopper, but aren't we all?), share in cooking with the spoils of the hunt, and generally indicating how well you can do for yourself being a greedy girl in Sydney. :wink:

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A little bit more about Woolloomooloo. Even its name is ostensibly food related: depending who you ask, it either means "place of plenty", "fishing spot", or "oyster-catching place". OK, another interpretation is "young male kangaroo", but that could be food too! :biggrin:

It's an area of severe contrasts, and that's no cliche. On one hand, it's home to the very, very rich, especially out towards the finger wharf that sits in between the rocky headland and the naval base. This whole building is very expensive waterfront restaurants, a very expensive hotel, and multimillion dollar apartments (Russell Crowe lives here).

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On the other hand, just one street back from the wharf are hundreds of housing commission apartments, a great number of homeless people, and a fair number of crisis shelters/soup kitchens. This is also an area of prostitutes, drug dealers, bikie gang hangouts and a relatively high crime rate in general. It still astounds me I can look out the window and literally see a homeless man asleep against a Lamborghini or an Aston Martin.

In the midst of all that though, we have a barely-hanging-on community garden - in the second pic, you can just see my cavolo nero (that keeps getting ripped up to make way for flowers :angry: ):

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Woolloomooloo is also home to one of the original and best coffee roasters in Sydney, Toby's Estate. Their original shop and headquarters is just around the corner from my place, so this is pretty much my weekend coffee-setup. Even the wallpaper is coffee-themed! We do make our own coffee weekday mornings, but can never make it better than Toby's so weekends we just head down there, get a strong latte, and read the paper. Stupidly forgot to take a picture of the actual coffee though! Soon.

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Opposite Toby's: the worst and most obvious street 'art' in Sydney. Woolloomooloo - sheep toilet cow toilet, geddit? Groan. Everytime I see it, I want to /facepalm. And the tin sheep behind it? At the start of the busiest freeway in Sydney too. Wtf? Everyone with good sense hates it, but hey, we all talk about it at least.

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Anyway, coming up for the rest of today: the abundance of the fish markets, greengrocers, zucchini fritters, bloody marys and uni on toast!

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Hello there! Talk about a hard act to follow, Zeemanb! But anyway - welcome, everyone, to a week of shopping, cooking and eating in Sydney. Woolloomooloo, to be exact - an area of Sydney basically in the central business district and on the waterfront, steeped in both Aboriginal and colonial history, and my home turf.

The University of Woolloomooloo reference in the foodblog's subtitle, is, (for the fans) from the Monty Python sketch of the Bruces - this sketch was the genesis of the great Monty Python

that accompanied many a beer swilling night in my own university days.

Not many takers on my teaser pics, though kayswv and Kerry Beal were on the right track recognising the naval shipyard; that's the Garden Island naval base on one side of Woolloomooloo Bay.

t1.JPG

On the other side are the rock formations you can see to the left, jutting out to a peninsula into the harbour, called Mrs Macquarie's Chair, after the wife of one of the chief governors of Sydney when it was a penal colony - she had a chair carved into the rock at the very tip of the headland so she could survey the ships come in and out of the harbour. She really was a lynchpin in the early (European-led) economic development of Sydney in its transition from penal colony to free town, and I think of her keen mercantile eye when I walk out there most weekends.

My second teaser pic really speaks to the fact that these days I get most of my food inspiration from the web (including from you guys! Sometimes mostly from you guys..) and often whack my iPad onto the fridge with its magnetised case to follow a recipe, or inventory what's in the fridge, or look desperately for dinner inspiration.

t2.jpg

You'll see why I'm into magnetised spice jars, measuring spoons and whatever else I can attach rare earth magnets to and whack on the fridge when I share some more photos of my very space-poor kitchen.

So apart from that compelling prospect, I'm hoping this week to show you some of the interesting food scene of central and Eastern parts of the city, take you on some of my marathon food-mission adventures (I'm an obsessed food-shopper, but aren't we all?), share in cooking with the spoils of the hunt, and generally indicating how well you can do for yourself being a greedy girl in Sydney. :wink:

Whoa! It's late here on the sun a.k.a. Kansas and I could NOT figure out the picture of your fridge! What a clever way to store your spices and have them in sight at all times. I love it!

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I am coming up to a horrid work week and this is just what I needed! So looking forward to your interesting, flavorful food.

Thanks for your kind words, and for the encouragement! I was a bit nervous about anyone replying at all, with visions of ending up talking to myself all week!

Whoa! It's late here on the sun a.k.a. Kansas and I could NOT figure out the picture of your fridge! What a clever way to store your spices and have them in sight at all times. I love it!

Hehe, thanks! I got the idea from some pre-made ones I saw on an American kitchenware site somewhere, but the price was shocking..so I just bought bomboniere gift tins from a wedding supply store, and some rare earth magnets from an electrical shop and had at it. I like that I'm not (usually) having to scrounge in some dusty drawer or cupboard and can see what's what and what I'm running low on. It also just reminds me that I HAVE spices, so I use them more often. :cool:

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How does your community garden work? Do you have to apply for a plot and if so is it a competitive thing in terms of getting one?

As to the "clever" signage - I am always far behind the ball when it comes to understanding some of the references. Amazing how the current rapping style of music can take a huge page from the British rhyming slang (just watched To Sir With Love the other day as the kids explained some of the rhymes)

When I first visited Sydney in the early 80's I was charmed by the greengrocers and my eyes lit up at the hydroponically lettuces grown and sold with the roots attached. Just now 20 years later I can get them at my local market! Your fair city was also my first intro to those pea sized eggplants in Thai food. The immigrant influence seems to have had a vast influence on the cuisine.

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So here are a few photos of my fridge, and pantry, and kitchen. The kitchen drives me mad, it's about 5 foot by 5 foot but the actual floor space is maybe 3 x 3.

It's fairly typical inner-city-apartment kitchen size actually, but my apartment itself is rather huge, so I often find myself pondering why they couldn't have shaved an extra metre off the living room and made the kitchen a bit bigger..anyway, it's hardly the smallest kitchen in the world, or even on eG, so I really should shut up about it:

Looking in one way:

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Looking in the other way, noting my 'vomiting whale' vase:

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Utensils and condiments and knife block and detritus:

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Sous vide controller, knife sharpener, assorted fruit etc, Japanese knife so sharp I'm scared to take it out of the box, jar of Chinese stem ginger, herbs and scales:

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This is the fridge pre shopping this morning. Pretty bare - mostly condiments, jars of various kinds of rendered fats, beer, delicious Japanese black sesame paste and chilli sauces.

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Side door is about the same..condiment central. Though the second shelf, the round white thing, is my treasured Japanese sesame seed grinder. I'll show it to you in action later this week, the thing is awesome.

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Pantry: three buckling shelves. This houses all my hoarded pretties: Korean dried squid, seasoned seaweed, hazelnut oil, Pierre Herme Ispahan jam, mostarda, Tianjin and Yuquin preserved vegetables, 85% cocoa chocolate (I like it dark), muscovado sugar, various kinds of grains including barley, millet, amaranth and quinoa, yuzu salt and tonkotsu stock concentrate..you name it, it's probably in there.

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Incidentally, that canister on the bottom shelf, with the cartoon face on it? That's a CAN of Korean sausages my friend bought me as a joke, as apparently these sausages have the exact same texture as human skin, and were the cause of a craze sweeping S. Korea one winter, as people were carrying around these sausages to operate their touchscreen iPhones with, so that they didn't have to keep taking their gloves off.. :laugh: I will eat them one day, I'm sure.

And lastly, my cookbooks. Mostly taking up the bottom shelves, but they're actually spread all over the place (we have nine of these big bookshelves, and I've yet to get all my cookbooks organised together); I sit on the floor cushions or curl up in the armchair to browse them. Ignore the alcohol all over the place! :wink:

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Ah yes, alcohol and cookbooks, a lovely combo...also I LOVE the whale vase, although it does look a bit, how shall I put this delicately, unwell...and I think I just found another reason to buy an IPad in that magnetic cover. My checking account does NOT thank you for that. :laugh:

Can't wait to see what you have in store for us this week from the other side of the world!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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So here are a few photos of my fridge, and pantry, and kitchen...

That looks like your oven under the hob - is the other one at knee-height your microwave ? It all looks spick & span.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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How does your community garden work? Do you have to apply for a plot and if so is it a competitive thing in terms of getting one? ...The immigrant influence seems to have had a vast influence on the cuisine.

There are both community plots and plot plots. I take it you have to apply for a plot but not sure how competitive it is..I would only ever play in the community plot, since I know I wouldn't be able to devote the time to a plot of my own to justify taking it off someone else.

As for the variety of the cuisine..I work in the nerve centre of varied cuisine, Chinatown, so I'm looking forward to showcasing some of its many treasures. :wub:

Ah yes, alcohol and cookbooks, a lovely combo...also I LOVE the whale vase, although it does look a bit, how shall I put this delicately, unwell...and I think I just found another reason to buy an IPad in that magnetic cover. My checking account does NOT thank you for that. :laugh: Can't wait to see what you have in store for us this week from the other side of the world!

Thanks for your kind words! I have a matching (non vomiting) whale butter dish too, who should soon be making an appearance!

Loving all the pics, especially the pantry. Looking forward to the rest of the blog!

Many thanks - I realised I forgot to take a picture of one very special cookbook, so am about to rectify that! :wink:

So here are a few photos of my fridge, and pantry, and kitchen...
That looks like your oven under the hob - is the other one at knee-height your microwave ? It all looks spick & span.

Yep, full oven under the hob, microwave at knee height and dishwasher to the right. Can't really complain about under-equipped kitchens, can I? Though it does irk me that the whole kitchen has ONE drawer not at ground level..hence supplementing it with a utensil tray sitting on top of the microwave. As for spick and span..yep, I run a pretty tight ship!

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More cookbooks, including my set of Modernist Cuisine! I have these thanks to the kindness of annachan, long story short. I haven't quite gotten into them yet (apart from SV), as am waiting to pass a couple of work deadlines before I fall down the rabbit hole of MC. :smile:

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I should also introduce myself, I've just realised. I'm Kate - I live with my partner, Michael. We're both very interested in food, but for very different reasons - I'm into cooking and eating it, obviously, whereas he is interested in it academically; he's a Professor of Resource Economics at one of the large universities here, and one of his research areas is food security. He also consults to the Vietnamese and Indonesian governments about how to maximise farming outcomes while minimising natural resource depletion, so a lot of our conversations at mealtimes end up being about the food chain, production issues, and the economics of food.

However, his interest is just that; academic. Actual eating-wise, he has no dislikes whatsoever and has never turned his nose up at anything I've cooked. This is incredibly liberating for me, as it gives me free reign to be as..eclectic as I like. :wink: He also humours me in that my hobby is food-browsing. I can look at markets forever, like many of us here. His hobby is coming along on my expeditions, standing patiently to the side, holding the bags, clearing his throat and staring into the middle distance.

Example: he sees nothing interesting in fish markets(!), but nonetheless we went early this morning. I realise nickrey comprehensively covered the Sydney Fish Markets in his wonderful foodblog, but I figured, hey, I legitimately shop there too, and who in their right mind doesn't want to see more photos of seafood?! I thought so:

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I am so looking forward to this week, love following your posts over in the dinner (and breakfast) threads so this will be a real treat!

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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This was the haul, in the end; some green prawns, some cooked Coffs Harbour prawns, a pretty blue swimmer crab, and a piece of salmon.

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I also couldn't resist that gorgeous tray of uni and wanted to eat it right away, but given that it was only 10am, settled for zucchini, feta and mint fritters with Greek yoghurt and green chilli sauce instead:

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And a bloody mary, in a valiant effort to use up the Absolut we received as a duty free gift with purchase. I make a fairly traditional one, with celery salt, black pepper, lemon, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce.

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When we did finally get to lunch a few (long) hours later, I made an appetiser of grilled bruschetta with the uni, and thin slices of lardo melted over:

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And prawns, bread and butter (with my whale butter dish starring!):

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Edited by rarerollingobject (log)
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... more photos of seafood?! I thought so:

Yikes ! I'm moving to Oz. "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh". Beautiful trout, and you 'll get neither uni nor awabi (abalone) for as little in Tokyo. "Bugs"... what are they ? Are the trout wild ? What I get locally is all Norwegian, farmed.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I'm so jealous of the bugs! Only seen them once at the farmers market by us several months ago and none since!

Bugs are kind of like mini lobsters. Maybe a cross between lobster and shrimp? Very sweet tasting.

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... more photos of seafood?! I thought so:

Yikes ! I'm moving to Oz. "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh". Beautiful trout, and you 'll get neither uni nor awabi (abalone) for as little in Tokyo. "Bugs"... what are they ? Are the trout wild ? What I get locally is all Norwegian, farmed.

I know, I LOVE the trout, one of my very favourite fish..most of them here are from Tasmania, and farmed. The wild ones are smaller, browner, and rarer. Though they're actually pretty easy to fish for yourself, around NSW.

Bugs (either referred to as Moreton Bay or Balmain bugs) are a shellfish tasting (to me) pretty much like lobster. They may look like aliens but taste like the sweet, sweet sea.

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RRO - do you use any flour in your fritters? I don't see any in the images, I love courgette fritters and yours look great..

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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OK, just one more post for this evening..since I have the crab and prawns earmarked for a dish tomorrow night, dinner was a simple affair of grilled lamb cutlets and salad. Quite boring. Except! The cutlets were doused in this incredible spice mix, Super Ras el-Hanout. Ras el-Hanout is pretty special in its own right, but this mix has:

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I hope to take you to Herbie's spice shop if I can this week, it's like an Aladdin's cave.

The cutlets:

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And I prepared something for tomorrow: beet-cured salmon. Grating beetroot and mixing it with sugar, salt, lemon zest and more of that intolerable Absolut vodka, I then packed this thickly onto a salmon fillet. Weighted it with cans and putting it in the fridge overnight, it will hopefully emerge tomorrow tinted with gorgeous pink, and faintly nutty and sweet from the beetroot.

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Edited by rarerollingobject (log)
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Ciao!! Now THAT is a fish market! I want to see more of that wacky blue crab...so beautiful.

Australia has been on my To-Go list for so long, and this is making the wander lust really kick in.

Apparently I need some rare earth magnets, because I must have cheap earth magnets . My spices barely stay on the wall, if I had them on the freezer door they would go flying off. I'm jealous.

What kind of butter is in that picture? It looks very yellow and "floofy".

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As a former Eastern Suburber who made many frequent trips to Chinatown, I look forward to seeing all the places and brands I recognize :).

Roger that. Any requests? :wink:

RRO - do you use any flour in your fritters? I don't see any in the images, I love courgette fritters and yours look great..

Not if I can help it. If the zucchinis are salted and drained and squeezed well enough, it doesn't usually need any, but if it does, I only add enough so that the mix doesn't sound wet when stirred. Too much flour makes them doughy and heavy, IMO.

Ciao!! Now THAT is a fish market! I want to see more of that wacky blue crab...so beautiful.

Australia has been on my To-Go list for so long, and this is making the wander lust really kick in.

Apparently I need some rare earth magnets, because I must have cheap earth magnets . My spices barely stay on the wall, if I had them on the freezer door they would go flying off. I'm jealous.

What kind of butter is in that picture? It looks very yellow and "floofy".

It's an artisan cultured butter I get from the farmer's market, called "Pepe's". Australian butter is generally not great, and hardly ever cultured, so for cooking, I use Lurpak Danish but for eating straight, either French or this Pepe's butter is what I prefer. Next Saturday I'm going back to the farmers' market for more, so if you stay tuned till then, you can "meet" the maker! :smile:

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. . . . "Bugs"... what are they ? . . . .

. . . .

Bugs (either referred to as Moreton Bay or Balmain bugs) are a shellfish tasting (to me) pretty much like lobster. They may look like aliens but taste like the sweet, sweet sea.

Slipper lobsters, I believe.

I really envy you your access to seafood, and am looking forward to vicariously enjoying it through your terrific pictures!

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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