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Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware

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For a stock pot, you should do fine with one of the disk-bottom designs that includes a magnetic layer on the bottom of the thermal pad.

As for cleaning Induc'Inox... afaik, there are Induc'Inox pans available with stainless handles.  If all you can find are the brass handles, if you want them to stay pretty, my guess is that you'd better hand wash them.

Thanks, I was afraid you'd say that. Guess it's about time to convert my four year old from a unit of consumption to a unit of labor :raz:


Tony

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Hey, been doing some research today on Sitram cookware (mostly) and thought I'd both add some findings and post some questions.

First, someone had asked if the Sitram Profiserie and Sitram Professional lines were the same. According to a review I found on Amazon (for 4.9 qt. professional saute) the disk diameter and width appear to be the same, and the pans appear otherwise identical except for a different cover. Note that as of today the Professional is 66.99 with cover, the Profiserie 49.99 w/o cover on Amazon.com. For most other pieces however (stockpots, etc.) the professional line is less expensive.

Some complaints that in both of these cases, the aluminum disk does not extend far enough to the edges of the pan (esp. the saute). Anyone else have this experience?

Secondly, I have some findings and questions about the copper disk models which have expanded to include the Magnum Plus line. The Magnum Plus has a 2.0 mm copper disk, and is induction compatible. I have been having difficulty, however, determining the thickness of the disk on the Catering line. Although it says elsewhere in this thread that these are 2.5mm, I have found 2.0mm quoted more often, even for the larger pans. While Bridge Kitchenware, for instance, says that the line has "2.0 - 2.5mm" disks, Dvorson's claims all are 2.0 mm except for some 1mm small saucepans. A few other sites have different figures. No one gives a definitive answer for any specific model. So which is true? Where did the 2.5mm figure come from in the first place? I ask because the Magnum Plus and Catering are the same price on Amazon (though the latter is out of stock and I suspect will stay that way): but one comes with cover, the other without. Is there otherwise a difference between the two pans? Who knows?

Anyway, thanks again for the excellent info and best of luck to future readers!

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Alright, some questions answered by Sitram USA (paraphrased):

Sitram Magnum Pro (not Plus, oops!) is in most regards the same as the Catering line. The handles are lower quality: machine made and riveted; the Catering has welded, hand-forged handles. The Magnum Pro usually includes a cover; the Catering does not. Both have the same diameter of 2.0mm copper in the base, extending almost to the edge; there is not 2.5mm of copper in the Catering line (at least not anymore). The Magnum Pro has a magnetic steel outer layer which makes it induction-compatible: the Catering is not.

Profiserie and Professional are two names for the same line. Any price differences are determined by the distributor or retailer, not Sitram. No word on the covers.

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Very nice. Thanks for checking with Sitram!


--

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Hi,

The information in your course and the Q&A is invaluable. I wish I had seen this years ago - it would have saved me from many an ill-advised purchase. Having just read through your course again recently, I am inspired to re-evaluate my cooking needs. I have already identified some seldom-used cookware that will be cleared out of my kitchen.

In the course, you mention the "doufeu" variation of the dutch oven. I have been wanting to acquire a dutch oven for braising, stews, etc. I have an opportunity to get an 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset oval doufeu at an extremely good price. I am trying to understand the advantages of this variation over a regular oval or round dutch oven. Do you have any experience with this version? Does the design and the use of ice-cubes and the build-up of condensation under the lid make that much difference in the cooking process?

I really appreciate that you are still responding to the Q&A, close to two years after the course!

Lisa

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Question: for brand new copper pots, isn't it necessary to remove a coat of varnish that keeps the copper shiny?

I just bought two new Mauviel pots and they came with no instructions as to what to do.


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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In the course, you mention the "doufeu" variation of the dutch oven.  I have been wanting to acquire a dutch oven for braising, stews, etc.  I have an opportunity to get an 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset oval doufeu at an extremely good price.  I am trying to understand the advantages of this variation over a regular oval or round dutch oven.  Do you have any experience with this version? Does the design and the use of ice-cubes and the build-up of condensation under the lid make that much difference in the cooking process?

For those who may be curious, Lisa is talking about this new product from Le Creuset. I don't have any experience in cooking with a doufeau, but the principle seems interesting. Needless to say, this will only work with stovetop cooking and isn't much use for oven braising. I have cooked with the Staub cocotte, which has "basting spikes" on the underside of the extra heavy lid that serve as condensation/dripping points. My somewhat unscientific observation is that foods braised in the Staub cocotte were more tender and moist than those braised in the equivalent Le Creuset. But the Staub design differs from the Le Creuset design in a number of ways (heavier, matte black interior, etc.) so it is impossible to say how much of this was due to the basting action of the lid.

All that said, if you can get the 7 1/4 Le Creused doufeu at a great price, and if your kitchen could use a 7 1/4 oval enameled cast iron cooking vessel, I think you're crazy not to get it. At the very least, it will be just as good as a regular 7 1/4 oval Le Creuset. And it might be better.

Let us know what you think if you end up buying it.

Question: for brand new copper pots, isn't it necessary to remove a coat of varnish that keeps the copper shiny?

Yes. Acetone (aka nail polish remover, but available for less money at your local hardware store) is best, but 93% rubbing alcohol from the drug store will do the trick as well.


--

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In the course, you mention the "doufeu" variation of the dutch oven.  I have been wanting to acquire a dutch oven for braising, stews, etc.  I have an opportunity to get an 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset oval doufeu at an extremely good price.  I am trying to understand the advantages of this variation over a regular oval or round dutch oven.  Do you have any experience with this version? Does the design and the use of ice-cubes and the build-up of condensation under the lid make that much difference in the cooking process?

Lisa, the doufeu, as in doux = soft, feu = fire or in this case, heat, has been around for quite some time, but carried the name Cousances. I have two (approx. 30 years old), have used them a LOT, and quite like them. Actually, they both look almost new. I use ice when I braise stove-top and I put water in the depression when I use the doufeu in the oven. It works extremely well, better, in fact than my regular Le Creuset but I have not yet compared it to Staub. So, you say you can get one for a good price? Grab it.

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Thanks for posting the link Sam. I guess the doufeu is "new" to the States?

I know the doufeu has been around for some time. I first cooked with one with a friend in Paris years ago and she loves it. safran - I am glad to hear you like it as well.

I am convinced and I have just acquired it. As soon I have cooked something, I will report back.

Lisa

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What's the latest scientific thinking on the continued use of non-stick cookware that has been darkened by overheating? I ask not just about the gases allegedly released during the overheating process, but specifically about the safety of subsequent use of the cookware. Also, what about the safety of such cookware that has (minor) scratches in the non-stick layer?

The pan in question is about fifteen years old and a special favorite.

This question is not intended to provoke yet another discussion of non-stick vs. non-non-stick cookware, or on how non-stick cookware should always be cheap and disposable.

Thanks.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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I'm not aware of any scientific data suggesting that eating PTFE that was once overheated is dangerous for your health. For sure we know that this is the case with respect to eating "regular" pieces of PTFE such as might come from scratches in the coating. PTFE is known to have very good biocompatibility and low tissue reactivity. That's why it is used in knee replacements, etc.


--

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Does anyone know how to save a saucepan that you have let boil dry and superheat? The pan in question is consructed like All Clad tri-ply, i.e. aluminum sandwiched by stainless steel, with the sandwich running up the sides of the pan, not just the bottom. (The outside is brushed stainless steel with a shiny band at the rim).

Pan was heated high enough to give the stainless steel a yellowish tinge. Numerous black scorch marks on the inside.

So far I have let it cool to room temperature then immersed it room temperature water to soak.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. If there is already a thread on this somewhere, please direct me. I did look, but couldn't find one.

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Durian, what do you feel is wrong with the pan?

If it is simply the case that it has been discolored, you can probably get rid of some of the discoloration with an application of oven cleaner followed by scrubbing with Bar Keeper's Friend. If the pan was heated hot enough, however, there isn't much you will be able to do.

If the pan is starting to come delaminated or something like that, it's a total loss.


--

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The yellow tint, which sometimes manifests as a rainbow, will definitely come out with BKF; I think that's even on the All-Clad site. Often scorch marks come out, too. I would try soaking in a slurry of water and automatic dishwashing detergent before resorting to oven cleaner, but I'm a wimp.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I'm not aware of any scientific data suggesting that eating PTFE that was once overheated is dangerous for your health.  For sure we know that this is the case with respect to eating "regular" pieces of PTFE such as might come from scratches in the coating.

My concern was that whatever process changed the color of the coating might also change its composition in some insalubrious way. I also read, and dismissed out of hand, some recent breathless comments on another site about the alleged toxicity of the substrate once exposed. Thanks again.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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Just following up to say that upon inspecting the 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset "doufeu" I decided it was way too big for my needs and I acquired the 5 1/2 quart round dutch oven instead. I usually cook only for two and the doufeu seemed huge! Also the oval shape was much too large to sit on my small stove. I have taken the advice of this course and bought the item that I think will best suit my needs. Of course, now that it is summer, I don't really feel like braising. :rolleyes: However, I am sure I will get much use from the dutch oven and I am very happy with my final decision. thanks again for the input.

cheers,

Lisa

edited to correct grammar/spelling


Edited by Lisa J (log)

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Sam,

Back in Feb. I has asked about straight gauge vs disk bottomed sauce pans and which would provide the most versatility. At the time I just needed something simply for blanching veggies and reheating things, so you said that disk bottom was fine.

I now find that I know a little more about what I meant when I said "versitility", and find myself making things (in addition to blanching veggies as above) such as Alfredo sauce, hot fudge sauce, tomato sauce, etc.

Would one pan design be suitable for all these kinds of tasks? If so, from the perspective of not burning things and having the most control, to my way of thinking it seems logical that straight gauge might be better than a disk bottom--but I wanted to check in with you and get your opinion on this as I am just a novice and you actually know what you are doing!

Thanks,

Cindy

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Sam,

I very much enjoyed your lecture on cookware. I have a pretty extensive cookware collection and recently, I purchased some of Calphalon's new line of "infused" anodized cookware, Calphalon One.

I did not purchase the N/S version of this, but rather the straight anodized. It is heavier than their Commercial lines, you can feel the heft in the pieces, and the new handles are amazing. It has performed beautifully to date, far better than some of my pricier pieces (which is relative of course, the C1 was no bargain let me tell you!). I was wondering if you have had any experience with this new line?


Gear nerd and hash slinger

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I . . . find myself making things (in addition to blanching veggies as above) such as Alfredo sauce,  hot fudge sauce, tomato sauce, etc.

Would one pan design be suitable for all these kinds of tasks? If so, from the perspective of not burning things and having the most control, to my way of thinking it seems logical that straight gauge might be better than a disk bottom--but I wanted to check in with you and get your opinion on this as I am just a novice and you actually know what you are doing!

It still depends on what you already have in your kitchen, what volumes you are cooking and what size pan you are talking about. In the size saucepan that is likely to be useful for blanching vegetables, it's still not clear to me that there is a great deal to be gained by purchasing a straight gauge pan. For something you are likely to make in small amounts -- like melting chocolate -- it can certainly make sense to buy a straight gauge pan in the 1 - 2 quart size, although of course you can always just use a metal bowl above a saucepan of simmering water.

For the other things you describe, it strikes me that either a) extra control isn't particularly required; or b) a saucepan isn't the pan I would choose anyway.

I was wondering if you have had any experience with [the Calphalon One] line?

I've picked up a few of the pieces to see how they feel. Ultimately, I'm not convinced that it's all that different from their previous lines and isn't just a marketing strategy. Reports are that the larger diameter pieces are still just as prone to warping from high heat cooking as they always have been, which is an inherent problem with aluminum cookware at this thickness. It's also not clear to me that they are substantially easier to keep clean, which is a major issue with anodized aluminum.

That said, someone with a different cooking style than mine (in particular someone who uses smaller diameter pans and doesn't like to preheat over high flame) might like them very much.


--

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It still depends on what you already have in your kitchen, what volumes you are cooking and what size pan you are talking about.  In the size saucepan that is likely to be useful for blanching vegetables, it's still not clear to me that there is a great deal to be gained by purchasing a straight gauge pan.  For something you are likely to make in small amounts -- like melting chocolate -- it can certainly make sense to buy a straight gauge pan in the 1 - 2 quart size, although of course you can always just use a metal bowl above a saucepan of simmering water.

Indeed, that is what I've been doing (the metal bowl thing).

For the other things you describe, it strikes me that either a) extra control isn't particularly required; or b) a saucepan isn't the pan I would choose anyway.

What pan would you be using for these things instead of a saucepan? I've been using one because that is what I have now (though it is ready to be retired).

I plan to buy some Falk pieces very soon, specifically an 11" saucier and 11" fry pan, both per your recommendations. Re: pasta sauce like Alfredo, I can see from your comments way upthread that making quick cooking pasta sauces in the saucier and then adding the pasta to the saucier at the end would make sense.

I have a question about something I read in Allton Brown's book "Gear for your kitchen". He notes "My favorite pot: a 5-qt casserole. The perfect vessel for making a batch of tomato sauce or braising a pot of collards. If I could only have one pot (meaning a deep, two loop handleded device) this would be it. Mine is made by All-Clad." (looks like an MC2 from the photo). He goes on to say that it is important to get cladded rather than disk-bottomed for this pan "because the heat needs to be evently distributed all the way up the sides."

From the above description, I realize I am confused about a nomenclature and am unsure as to what the difference is between a saucepan vs. a "pot" (though pot seems to be a rather generic term). Alton specifically refers to his as a casserole, which I gather is different than what you mean by a saucepan. Is that correct? Are the differences only in size--or is there a shape difference too? What would one cook in one vessel but not in the other? Given whatever you feel each vessel is best used for, do you agree with the idea of a casserole being straight gauge?

Finally, I have had an oval Le Creuset French oven. I admit I don't use it a lot because I don't know exactly what to do with it. In terms of what kinds of dishes one would cook in it, is a French oven the same as a casserole?

I am also thinking that perhaps some of the things I think need to be made in a saucepan actually could be done in the LC?

Thanks again Sam for your awesome knowledge and willingness to share it!

Best,

Cindy

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Sam,

Sorry, another question for you. I have seen a few posts upthread in which people commented that they find the interiors of the Falk Culinair to be "greyish" on the inside and thus not to their liking as they find the greyish color impedes their ability to judge changes in color/browning.

I know that you have some Falk, and also I see you mentioned that you have some All-Clad MC2. The interior of the MC2 is not shiny stainless, but rather, it is sort of matte due to a pattern of concentric circles in the metal. As I am familiar with the look and color of the interior of an MC2 pan, I was hoping I might ask you to take a peek into the interior of your Falk and MC2 and tell me if they look similar in color and finish?

I am finally getting ready to buy some copper and want to make sure that I won't dislike it for some oddball reason that isn't directly related to performance, but that might matter to me. Safer to know this stuff before I shell out the money!

Thanks,

Cindy

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What pan would you be using for these things instead of a saucepan? I've been using one because that is what I have now (though it is ready to be retired).

For example, I think a quick cooked tomato sauce or Alfredo sauce can be done very well in something like an 11 inch curved sauteuse evasée or sauté pan. For a longer cooked tomato sauce I'd probably reach for something that would be good for making a stew or braise, like an enameled cast iron casserole.

I plan to buy some Falk pieces very soon, specifically an 11" saucier and 11" fry pan, both per your recommendations. Re: pasta sauce like Alfredo, I can see from your comments way upthread that making quick cooking pasta sauces in the saucier and then adding the pasta to the saucier at the end would make sense.

Exactly. And if you have these pieces it drastically reduces your need for a large expensive straight gauge saucepan.

I have a question about something I read in Allton Brown's book "Gear for your kitchen". He notes "My favorite pot: a 5-qt casserole. The perfect vessel for making a batch of tomato sauce or braising a pot of collards. If I could only have one pot (meaning a deep, two loop handleded device) this would be it. Mine is made by All-Clad." (looks like an MC2 from the photo). He goes on to say that it is important to get cladded rather than disk-bottomed for this pan "because the heat needs to be evently distributed all the way up the sides."

I'm not sure that I agree with Alton that the heat needs to go all the way up the sides, but it certainly doesn't hurt. I also disagree with his recommendation of All-Clad. Personally, I'd go with Staub or some other enameled cast iron.

From the above description, I realize I am confused about a nomenclature and am unsure as to what the difference is between a saucepan vs. a "pot" (though pot seems to be a rather generic term). Alton specifically refers to his as a casserole, which I gather is different than what you mean by a saucepan. Is that correct? Are the differences only in size--or is there a shape difference too? What would one cook in one vessel but not in the other? Given whatever you feel each vessel is best used for, do you agree with the idea of a casserole being straight gauge?

If you read through the class again, all the differences between a saucepan and a casserole are explained, along with recommendations for different design types. I don't think there is any hard and fast rule as to the difference between a "pot" and a "pan" -- except that I would say as a generalization that "pans" have one long handle and "pots" have two short handles. In the home kitchen, a saucepan also tends to be smaller in volume than a casserole, as we typically use casseroles to do braises, stews and large volumes of things like Ragù Bolognese, whereas we're not typically making 6 quarts of Bordelaise sauce in a gigantic saucepan at home.

Finally, I have had an oval Le Creuset French oven. I admit I don't use it a lot because I don't know exactly what to do with it.  In terms of what kinds of dishes one would cook in it, is a French oven the same as a casserole?

This is an enameled cast iron casserole in an oval shape, which makes it good for cooking certain things that wouldn't fit very well in a circular pot. You could certainly use it to cook tomato sauce, braises, stews, etc. -- anything you would cook in a circular one.

I have seen a few posts upthread in which people commented that they find the interiors of the Falk Culinair to be "greyish" on the inside and thus not to their liking as they find the greyish color impedes their ability to judge changes in color/browning.

Two things here:

1. I don't agree that the slight grayness of certain Falk pieces in any way inhibits the ability to judge color. This is especially true since the pieces that have this interior color are pieces that should not be used for browning things anyway (more on this below).

2. The only Falk pieces of which I am aware with a matte finish are the regular straight sided sauteuses evasée (for making reductions and sauces). All the other pieces I have used have a brushed interior finish that is quite bright.

I know that you have some Falk, and also I see you mentioned that you have some All-Clad MC2. The interior of the MC2 is not shiny stainless, but rather, it is sort of matte due to a pattern of concentric circles in the metal. As I am familiar with the look and color of the interior of an MC2 pan, I was hoping I might ask you to take a peek into the interior of your Falk and MC2 and tell me if they look similar in color and finish?

Yes, it is similar in terms of brightness.


--

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For example, I think a quick cooked tomato sauce or Alfredo sauce can be done very well in something like an 11 inch curved sauteuse evasée or sauté pan.  For a longer cooked tomato sauce I'd probably reach for something that would be good for making a stew or braise, like an enameled cast iron casserole....

...I'm not sure that I agree with Alton that the heat needs to go all the way up the sides, but it certainly doesn't hurt.  I also disagree with his recommendation of All-Clad.  Personally, I'd go with Staub or some other enameled cast iron....

...In the home kitchen, a saucepan also tends to be smaller in volume than a casserole, as we typically use casseroles to do braises, stews and large volumes of things like Ragù Bolognese, whereas we're not typically making 6 quarts of Bordelaise sauce in a gigantic saucepan at home.

Okay, this is all coming together much more in my head now. And thankfully I've already got the Le Creuset French Oven. So in that sense I am in better shape than I thought. In fact, one of the Scanpan pots (that I had itemized way upthread) that I got rid of was referred to as a Dutch Oven, and for the life of me I have no idea why I bought that pot AND the Le Creuset. At least I don't have to replace that Scanpan, now, though, thanks to your great answers to my queries!

I apologize--when I had asked some of the questions above (about braising, and casseroles/French oven/Dutch over, it had been a while since I read the course--indeed, all of the answers were in there! It was a good refresher to read it anew, well worth the time.

1. I don't agree that the slight grayness of certain Falk pieces in any way inhibits the ability to judge color.  This is especially true since the pieces that have this interior color are pieces that should not be used for browning things anyway (more on this below).

2. The only Falk pieces of which I am aware with a matte finish are the regular straight sided sauteuses evasée (for making reductions and sauces). All the other pieces I have used have a brushed interior finish that is quite bright.

Ah, good (letting out sigh of relief). This was the only remaining concern I had about getting the Falk. So I am finally going to get some.

In addition to the 11" saucier and 11" fry pan, I am considering the "try me" sized saucier. Sam, I recall you said you own that piece. In general, I find pieces of cookware whose overall width is smaller than the size of the burner to be "tippy", which I find greatly annoying.

Since copper is dense, I imagine that this "Try Me" piece would be heavier than a somewhat similarly sized piece of All-Clad (1 qt saucier). In your experience (I've seen the photos of your stovetop where you demo an alternative way to cook an omelette) do you have any problems with the Try Me Falk piece being unbalanced?

Thanks again, Sam, for all the handholding. This has all been so helpful!

~Cindy

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I don't own the seven inch Falk curved sauteuse evasée, but I do own the regular straight sided sauteuse evasée in the 1 quart size. It is not particularly "tippy."

If a small saucepan has a tendency to tip over unless it is full, I think that's an indication that it is not very well designed. A piece of cookware should balance. Also, I think it's likely that such a pan would be constructed from poor materials anyway -- most likely thin stainless steel -- if the handle is almost the same weight as the body.


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Sam - I realised the other day that of all the things that have changed about my cooking in recent times, nothing has changed more than the way I think about applying heat to proteins or liquids; and most of that has been affected by your course. Salut. Interestingly, it has lead me away from much of my copper, and back to the cast iron and copper-core s/s, as I realised that I value more the ability to maintain heat these days than I do the rapid trasfer in either direction. And as I thought more about it, I started noticing different recipes (for instance with Ducasse and all his jus instructions) that call for the cast iron, rather than copper s/s. I still prefer the copper for all liquids reduction or simmering, but it loses too much heat with proteins.


Edited by MobyP (log)

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