A few people have asked me to share some Lenten Meals. I’ll admit, Lenten Meals are difficult for me to make. I think of them as bland, boring, small, unsatisfying meals. That’s hard for me to do. But before I become a neo-pelagianist, I thank God that the Catholic Church gives us clear guidelines about fasting and abstinence. That means our Lenten mortifications don’t have to make us miserable!
(Chef Carlo gives me a fabulous Lenten Meal – that still makes me celebrate. My “penance” was to only order ONE portion! It was a challenge to not indulge!)
So here’s my suggestion: If you’re going to make something for a Friday meal, just make less of it; use less seasoning that would normally give it the extra boost in flavor – less salt, pepper, garlic, spice, and, of course, less cream or butter.
Another idea would be to learn new ways of making vegetables even better and making that your main meal.
(Honestly, asparagus and herb crusted grilled bread with olive oil is completely satisfying. But if you top it off with caramelized onions, apples, and blue cheese, there you have a feast! See below for a link to the recipe!)
Certainly Lent should never be considered a time to “simply” engage in a more healthy diet. That would be confusing the means with the end. However, even medical studies agree that a little bit of fasting and abstinence will bring benefits to the body. So when we offer these Lenten disciplines as a way to make our relationship with Jesus more healthy (and not just make our body more health) we know these disciplines will truly benefit our souls. Let’s admit, our souls need a little exercise as well!
(A Seafood Stew: a great Lenten meal for the family. One bowl of food to be shared by one family!)
Let us pray:
Jesus, help us to overcome our weaknesses through the discipline of Lent. May our sacrifices this holy season bring us to a healthiness in body, mind, and spirit. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Poached shrimp and creamy caper pasta. It’s Lent friendly, but use smaller portions to be penitential.)
Do you have a favorite Lenten meal you prepare for your family? If you forget to fast on a Friday, what do you do personally to keep to the spirit of the law – even if it’s hard to follow the letter of the law? Is there a way that you tell your children or a non-Catholic that helps them understand why we fast and abstain? Your posts, comments, and questions motivate us. They remind us people are reading and listening to our message and help us understand how we can better serve you! Post your comments here.
(Lourdes, France. The 2nd Station of the Cross: Jesus willingly embraces the Cross. We adore You Christ and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world!)
For more Lenten inspired recipes click here.
(Pilgrims in prayer.)
Finally, do something good for yourself at the end of Lent and join me and other faithful foodies on the Napa Valley Pilgrimage and Tour. It’s a Virtuous Vacation that will teach, inform, and inspire faith – while celebrating great food, choice wines, and God’s goodness in this beautiful part of the world!
(Join me for a tour of a real medieval-style castle in Napa Valley, and taste exquisite foods with perfectly paired wines.)
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Be sure to mark your personal calendars and the family refrigerator calendars for these exciting opportunities.
(A trio of penne pastas for a five-course dinner – an auction prize for Catholic Charities!)
Tour the Secrets of Napa Valley!
June 23-28, 2012. Food and wine lovers, reserve NOW for another opportunity in Napa Valley. Our Fruit of the Vine Tour was so popular and well-received that we’re returning for more faithful and culinary inspiration. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot now!
(One of the international award-winning vineyards to visit.)
The International Premier – Primetime!
(Click to play the promo for Fr. Leo’s new Show on EWTN: Savoring Our Faith)
Sunday March 4, 2012, at 8:30 p.m. Be sure to watch the international premier of the full-length series – Savoring Our Faith on EWTN. Fr. Leo’s little cooking clips on EWTN were so popular the network offered a primetime spot for a full series that features original recipes, special guests, and more faithful foodie inspiration that will feed you – body, mind, and spirit! Tell family and friends!
(Yes, I made desserts and even baked off some tuile.)
Spicing Up Married Life!
We continue to move forward in finalizing our book designed specifically for couples – dating, engaged, new, and senior married couples. The response to be recipe testers was so great that we took extra time to prayerfully consider who would participate in this unique opportunity. We have finalized this extensive list and those names selected will be notified with details. To those who offered help, stay tuned for exclusive discounts on the book when it’s published this year – just in time for wedding seasons and the holidays!
(Picture of my grandparents, who were married some 60+ years! Grandpa has gone to God, but grandma is still praying her rosary.)
See, Hear, and Taste the message yourself!
If interested in booking a Grace Before Meals presentation, don’t delay. The schedule continues to fill up quickly for 2013, as we bring our message to all parts of the country and the world!
Watching our segments on TV or online is fun, and we love the cyberspace interactions. However, everyone who personally experiences Fr. Leo during live presentations says it’s more intense and, in some cases, “life changing,” Afterwards, some people say they see their faith, their family meals, and the Eucharist differently, more deeply. Nothing is better than hearing the Grace Before Meals message in person and tasting the food yourself! So book early, and be sure to check out where Fr. Leo be next!
(Event in Folsom, Ca. Fr. Leo shares his message with a packed house. Thank God Jesus is there to “multiply” the food!)
Let Us Pray:
God, continue to bless our Grace Before Meals movement and all of those who are a part of it. Keep us fixed on our mission to bring families closer to our family dinner table and to Your Family Table of the Last Supper. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) with their healthy, happy, and bountifully blessed grandchildren.)
Do you have questions for Fr. Leo? If you ever had a chance to experience a Grace Before Meals presentation, give us your testimony. Your comments, question, and even concerns help bring our movement to even more hearts, homes, and dinner tables. Post your comments below!
(Fr. Leo at the International Festival and Celebration at Corpus Christi ,Tx., Cathedral.)
Check out our last MINIFLIPPING video:
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Filipino Family Fun
(Some would call this “fun?” Petting a 20 foot python!)
As you may know I spent Christmas break with my family in the Philippines. The entire family, plus a few family friends, island-hopped from Cebu to Boracay to Bohol to Palawan to Manila. I want to share so much with you that I’ll need the entire month of E-mail Blasts!
(Shangrila Hotel in Makati, Manila.)
What repeatedly impressed me, no matter what island we happen to visit, was the faith of the Philippine people.
(One of the oldest churches in the Philippines, Baclayon Church in Bohol.)
The Catholic faith came by way of the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, in the name of King Philip (hence the name, little Philip, i.e., Filipino). This world navigator came to the Philippines to colonize the country and share the Faith, hence the heavy Spanish influence on this Asian island nation. In the process, Magellan also needed to militarily rule the land. The tribe leader Lapu Lapu sought freedom for his people and ended Magellan’s life in the Battle of Mactan. The liberation, however, did not stop the Grace of the Catholic Faith.
(Monument where Lapu Lapu defeated Magellan’s forces in the Battle of Mactan.)
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in a primarily non-Christian part of the world, and is also one of the most devoutly Catholic countries in the world. Proudly, the Philippines hosted the world’s largest World Youth Day (arguably the largest gathering in world history) – over 5 million people on a tiny Island nation. The Papal Mass was celebrated at that Quirino Grandstand, where I had the privilege of being a special guest concelebrant at the Black Nazarene Festival.
(Statue of the Black Nazarene.)
The Philippines’ faith is strong for many reasons. I can offer two for your dinner discussion.
First, faith and family go hand in hand. Just consider what a family needs to be a family – faithfulness to each other! When families don’t practice their faith, their fidelity to each other is compromised. For Filipinos, going to church as a family, praying together, and yes, saying Grace Before Meals, helps them to be faithful and faith-filled families!
(Family that inhabits a beach resort Island near Palawan, Philippines.)
Another reason why the Faith may be so strong in the Philippines is because they are still a developing nation, i.e., not rich, or more bluntly – “poor.” What they lack in material goods, however, is replaced by an abundance of spiritual blessings. They are joyful, happy, fun-loving people, despite their lower economic status. Yes, I know it’s cliché, but in the Philippines the sentiment couldn’t be more true – money can’t buy happiness! Money can buy good and memorable times (this trip wasn’t cheap), but the joy I encountered from the Filipinos made me rethink my approach to money and materialism. I need to be more grateful, more generous, and more dependent on Almighty God for happiness, and not on the almighty dollar.
(At Berghoff German Cookware studio and store in Makati, Philippines. Me with two recently graduated culinary student sous-chefs, who assisted me in making the Fusion Fajitas as a part of a fundraising effort for the victims of the recent typhoons.)
On this trip I met a young man from Europe. He traveled alone. He had money and seemed to enjoy himself freely. In our brief chat I learned his parents were divorced, and therefore he had no real family to spend the holidays with. While it sounded exotic to spend the holidays exploring foreign lands, it also sounded lonely. At the end of our conversation he “confessed” that he was impressed by my family (“jealous” was the actual word he used). He observed us playing football or making sandcastles or making fun of each other. He explained that he wished his family was still together on a vacation like ours. My heart was heavy for him, and I could only pray that he would one day discover the key to a faithful and loving family – faith, hope, and love in God!
(Sunset at Boracay Beach, Philippines.)
Of course my family is far from perfect. We had our share of “Griswold” moments. But this trip to the Philippines showed me just how blest I am for the great gifts I received over the Christmas break. The cost of the trip meant we didn’t exchange presents this year. Instead, this trip opened my eyes to the greatest gift of all – a faithful family!
(My nieces, nephews, and good friends, Stefano and Lauren, who we met in Boracay. They speak Italian, so we just chatted it up and celebrated together!)
Let Us Pray:
Father in Heaven, thank You for the chance to celebrate as a family in my native homeland, the Philippines. We rejoice in Your goodness as we petition Your care for those who go without family, food, and faith. Give safety and guidance to all who are alone in this world, and show them the way to peace on earth that always leads to eternal peace in Heaven. Amen.
WE HAVE EXCITING NEWS:
THE VIRTUOUS VACATION TO NAPA VALLEY IS A GO! RESERVE THE DATES JUNE 23-28, 2012, AND SIGN UP! SPACES ARE VERY LIMITED. CALL CORPORATE TRAVEL AT 313.565.8888.
(Views of the vineyards from the Castello Amaroso in Napa Valley.)
How did you spend your Christmas break? What was the gift that you are STILL grateful for receiving on that blessed day? Have you ever been to the Philippines? If you could spend Christmas anywhere, where would it be? Your questions and comments encourage us in our movement. Thanks for posting your comments BELOW.
“Faithful Foodie Adventures” is all about exciting opportunities that await us at various tables and food destinations across God’s beautiful world. Some weeks I may offer a cooking class tip, a restaurant critique, or even some food ideas that hopefully expand our faith while satisfying our culinary sensibilities. If you have any food adventure ideas, please be sure to let us know. E-mail me your ideas at email@example.com.
The Best of England and France in North America?
I went on a vacation/retreat to Quebec with my Jesus Caritas Group of priest friends. All of my friends are foodies in their own right, having studied in Rome – a veritable cornucopia of Catholic culinary culture.
(Quebec Parliament from my hotel view.)
In this week’s E-mail Blast I offer some food and culture tips for one of the most unique “European” cities in North America. Quebec City combines rustic European (in particular an old town French community) mixed with the polite civility of England (of course, not including the unfortunate recent riots). The city is remarkably pristine, carefully manicured, and gentle in the friendliness of the people. The architecture in the city center makes you feel like you’re in trapped in the 1800s, especially since the weekend we picked happened to coincide with their historical cultural celebrations. The majority of local folks dressed in their native vesture, sang their traditional songs in the open squares, and proudly showcased their uniqueness in the world.
(For only $10 CAD you can have a picture taken with this guy. I passed…but admired his efforts to dress like that on one of Quebec’s hottest summer days!)
But now on to the food!
In my limited research about Quebec Culture I couldn’t find anything particularly unique or interesting that I just “had” to try/eat/visit. Besides the quaint fresh market where I purchased fresh produce for summer salads, I discovered that Quebec (like most of that part of Canada) proudly promotes their rich flavored maple syrup, which you can purchase in almost every store. But, for the most part, the majority of French influenced restaurants served very recognizable dishes.
(Quiche and fries at a local spot along St. Jean (of Ark, that is.)
French onion soup (not as cheesy as Americans may prefer), croque-monsieur’s (a type of sandwich), quiche (of course), moules-frites (mussels and fries), and the rustic plate of steak frites (steak with fries) are all very popular and offered in almost every restaurant. I especially enjoyed the fact that “French Fries” come standard with a side of mayonnaise for dipping! Which leads me to the question, which is healthier: mayonnaise or ketchup? Either way, perfectly fried potatoes still need a saucy accompaniment.
Most Quebec restaurants offered the plate of the day with “pre-fixed menus” to help the locals with their budget, but more to help tourists maneuver through a different language. However, being a well-visited international city (although you could never tell by how quaint the Quebec airport really is), there were also many Italian restaurants, Irish pubs, a minority of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, several over-priced gelato stands, and even a famous fast food establishment in the city. Okay, I saw a McDonald’s in the Old City, but it served some French foods! Interestingly, there was not a Starbucks to be found anywhere, which made taking a coffee break an unnecessarily frustrating adventure for the caffeine inclined .
(Busy and bustling boulevard of St. Jean.)
Again, the Old Quebec City offered “typical” foods of a big city, served by incredibly pleasant people, with classic architectural buildings as a background for festive dining. Still, I did a lot of cooking and took plenty of time to tour the city streets. Cooking in gave us more time to relax and just be ourselves, but it also meant we ate delicious food for a fraction of the price. Admitted by the local Quebecois, they live in a very expensive city. A 15 % tax is imposed on everything – including food. While it made it painful to offer a 20% tip to the wait staff, I discovered that patrons’ tips seriously help supplement a low income for restaurant workers.
I got the impression that the food culture in Quebec was not as much of a priority, as I sensed it was in France and other French-influenced U.S. cities like New Orleans and Historic South Carolina. Yet the people of Quebec certainly do want to make it a “part” of their cultural focus, which seems to focus more on the hope for future sovereignty and the strict use of the French language.
(Yes, you too can read French…subtitles, that is.)
While this city had many restaurants to review, I found two that left quite a positive impression on me. Le Cochon Dingue (The Crazy Pig), with a few locations in the historic part of Quebec served all types of rustic French cuisine with a twist – such as an “egg roll” filled with duck confit and served with Christmas color sauces of basil pesto and cranberry compote – a bright combination that worked well with the fattiness of the duck. Another restaurant to recommend is “Le Moulin de Saint-Laurent” on the island of Ile d’Orleans – a 15 minute drive from the city center.
(Duck confit “egg rolls” at Le Cochon Dingue.)
With the exception of these two dining venues, and simply trying to be honest in my restaurant reviews, I admit being slightly underwhelmed by Quebec food. I was hoping for flavor, but wound up adding salt and pepper to almost every meal. I really wanted to go out to eat, but just didn’t feel compelled by the menu options, the way the food looked, and especially the price. A comment made over the trip summed it up: “Quebec cuisine originated from France, but the seasoning and preparation seems to have been taken over by England.”
(A buffet of brunch foods I made with the “leftovers” on the last day!)
My honest impression of the food, however, doesn’t mask the positive impression I had of the city. It was beautiful and bustling. The churches, although mainly tourist spots, had schedules that showed devotion and faith. And I suspect that part of the Quebec culture can use more inspiration from the new Canadian Saint, Andre Besset.
(Interior of the Catholic Cathedral in Quebec.)
I also noted the number of families with young children – always a sign of hope! While I’ll be prepared to rent another house with a kitchen – so I can do plenty of cooking – I must say this visit inspired me to return, and hopefully stay longer so I can more seriously explore the food culture. Au revoir.
(Quebec family going back in time with the “latest” fashions.)
FYI: One of the three historic buildings in Quebec City is the Notre Dame Cathedral. The city’s spiritual roots are evident in the number of streets and stores that are named after Saints. When you explore a city, find out the faith history, and be sure to say a prayer for the local people. It helps vacationers find a connection with the locals. Remember, a grace-filled prayer can transform a strange land into a home away from home, as it did for the first French settlers in this Northern part of North America.
God our Father, bless the faith and the people of Quebec. May their patron saints continue to inspire the people of “New France” so to imitate their virtues and become saints themselves. Bless those continuing to travel in these remaining summer days, and help our families to experience Your goodness in their journeys. Amen.
(The Oratory, where Saint Andre Besset is buried.)
To get the review of a great restaurant, Le Moulin de Saint-Laurent, click here!
QUESTION: Where did you go on vacation? Did you find a good place to eat? Please tell us what city you traveled to and the name of a restaurant that you’d recommend in that city. Or, if you live in a busy tourist area, what restaurant would you encourage people to try? Your response will definitely be a helpful travel tip for me and our members. AND, if you’re interested in being a contributor restaurant critic, please contact the Grace Before Meals project manager for details and for special gifts I send for each entry that is used and posted in future E-mail Blasts. Post your answers below!
“Menu Inspiration” gives subscribers exclusive access to original and inspired recipes from Fr. Leo Patalinghug, host of the movement, Grace Before Meals. If you try this recipe, let us know what you think. If you have a special recipe that inspires the family to come together more regularly, please share it with us and our faithful foodie community. Pictures of your food surrounded by your family and friends are always welcome! Post your comments below.
(Raleigh, NC, Family Day: Lot’s of hungry mouths to feed.)
Last year I had the opportunity to film a few webisodes with the Scouts from the Archdiocese of Washington. It impressed me to see how tight families became on these nature outings. While my family never went “camping,” we definitely had many outings that tightened our bonds as a family. How could we be anything else but “close” when parents, four kids, and sometimes a relative or two would cram in the family station wagon, along with luggage and a cooler packed with food! As families prepare for the summer months, I’ve included a few recipes and cooking tips to help get everyone on a faithful foodie adventure!
(Filming for the Bobby Flay Throwdown!)
RECIPE # 1: Solar Warmed Beef and Onion Tortillas to Go!
I created a version of this recipe for a scouting family outing. You can check out a video that features a similar version of this recipe online, click here. In this “updated” recipe, I make it so easy to make, transport, assemble, and clean up, thatfamilies can prepare this in advance. . . It’s also very “easy” on the taste buds. This recipe will be perfect for families who may not be packing a grill or portable stove for this day trip dinner, as you finish the cooking/warming up process using the sun, plastic bags, and simple gastronomical tools, i.e., using acids and vinegars to cook the meat. So let’s get cooking!
(A taco food truck inspired this recipe.)
Ingredients: Feeds a family of 4
3 Ziploc bags
2 6-8 ounce New York Strip Steaks, cut into thin strips
½ cup of your favorite hot sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1 white onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
¼ cup cabbage, shredded
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Instructions: Prepare the beef at home. Cut beef steaks into thin strips. Season with half of the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Heat ½ Tbs of olive oil in a pan and sauté until beef is cooked rare. This will cook quickly, only 2-3 minutes. Set aside until beef is cool. Then put beef in a plastic bag and keep chilled. To prepare the rest of the fixins, mince onion and cilantro, and shred the cabbage. Place these veggies in a plastic bag, and season with the rest of the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then add the lime juice to the fixins’ mix. Store in a plastic bag and keep chilled. Place the tortillas in a separate plastic bag and also keep chilled. Pack all of these in a small cooler and to keep chilled for transportation. When you’re ready eat, simply set these plastic bags out in the hot sun for a few minutes to warm. The acids from the lime and the vinegar in the hot sauce will “cook” and “tenderize” the contents in the plastic bag. Assemble each beef tortilla by spooning a little of the meat and the fixins on a tortilla. Wrap, eat, and enjoy!
RECIPE # 2: Beer B-Q Italian Sausages and Onions
This recipe was also featured in a webisode and on a few local news shows as well. It takes Italian sausage and onions to a whole new barbecued level! You don’t need a culinary degree to prepare it, and it can be cooked over an open flame or even an electric burner. It’s great “food snobby” picnic food!
(The bubbling goodness!)
Ingredients: Feeds 3 people – each person can get 2 sausages-dogs
1 disposable aluminum pan
6-pack of Italian Sausage, sweet or mild
1 can of beer (light beer is preferred for this recipe)
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 large white onion, cut into thin strips
¼ cup blue cheese or feta cheese
Fresh cilantro leaf
6 hot dog buns
(The finished product.)
Instructions: Put sausages in aluminum pan over heat source (grill pan or stove). Turn occasionally so sausages begin to brown on at least two sides. Add beer and barbecue sauce, and mix together. Then add onions, and cook until the liquid reduces to half and onions are braised completely (until limp). To serve, place a sausage and some of the onions into a hotdog bun, and drizzle some of the beer infused barbecue sauce on top. Top off with some cilantro and blue cheese. Crazy delicious!
RECIPE # 3: A Hearty Meatless Lunch
(Open market in Italy – Shopping for fresh vegetables in an open market in Italy is a meal in and of itself.)
This recipe is another perfect picnic recipe that provides families an opportunity to work together in the kitchen BEFORE packing up a simple cooler filled with delicious goodies. A food trip to an Italian market in Providence, RI, on a hot summer day inspired this simple lunch idea that will help families keep their food delicious and healthy, but also super simple.
(Providence, RI – Italian Market.)
Grilled Broccoli Rabe
1 bunch of broccoli rapini (a.k.a., broccoli rabe), washed with tough part of the stems cut and discarded
2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
¼ cup water
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp vinegar
Instructions: Clean and prepare the broccoli by washing, and then cut off about ¼ inch of the bottom of the stem. That’s generally the “woody” and very fibrous part of the stem. And while it has great nutritional value, it can be difficult to eat. Next, heat water and garlic in a large sauté pan. Once water comes to a boil, add the broccoli rabe. Use tongs to turn broccoli, so that each side turns a bright green color. When water has almost completely evaporated, add the olive oil. Let cook and sizzle. Then add the vinegar, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then set aside until cool. Preserve in a plastic bag and keep cool.
Grilled Olives, Mushrooms and Peppers:
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup green olives, pitted
1 cup fresh mixed mushroom (your choice)
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Instructions: Heat a nonstick pan over high heat. When pan is very hot add the olives, and sauté until they take on some color. Next, add olive oil (be careful of hot oil splatter). Then add the mushrooms and peppers, and sauté 2-3 minutes. Season the entire mixture with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cool before placing contents in a plastic bag. Keep refrigerated or chilled before serving.
1 small container of fresh mozzarella balls, with water drained
2-4 fresh basil leaves, finely minced
1 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt and pepper
Instructions: Drain the water that was used to “pack” the fresh mozzarella. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir together before putting in a plastic bag. Keep refrigerated or chilled until serving.
Each of these recipes can easily be mixed and matched in order to prepare your family’s outdoorsy meal! Hopefully these ideas can inspire your family to go on a road trip with some delicious meals that are economical, friendly on the preparation time, and a snap to clean up!
Faithful foodies, how did you enjoy these recipes? Do you have any recipe tips for family outdoorsy events? What will you prepare for your next family outing? Your comments and questions certainly encourage us to persevere! Post your comments below.
Big News for Grace Before Meals team
I am out in Californ-I-A right now, but next week, I will be sailing the Mediterranean on a 7 night Culinary Cruise starting on May 14. It is bound to be a great experience with wine tasting, spiritual talks, daily Mass and more.
Also on May 14, our Project Manager, Joe Hansbrough and his beautiful fiance, Erica George, will be sharing the sacred sacrament of marriage, so we wish them many blessings and prayers and support as they seek to love God more through their love.
With all of that in mind, our Grace Before Meals team will be taking a week long hiatus, coming back into full swing on Tuesday, May 24. You will still receive next week’s newsletter, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in case of emergencies, you can reach the Co-Creator of Grace Before Meals, Tim Watkins at email@example.com.
(Our Project Manager, Joe H. with his wife-to-be, Erica G.)
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