A Little Trip to “Kokomo”

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Saturday was our 27th wedding anniversary, but we didn’t plan anything elaborate this year. We expected to head to our mountain property and do our usual thing. This time I had picked up a Porterhouse steak per Mr. GFE’s request. (One would be enough for both of us.) We’d grill the steak (Mr. GFE’s favorite), cook potatoes in the fire, and steam artichokes. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how our plans would go as we’d been “squabbling” for a few days. After 27 years of marriage (and 5 ½ years of dating prior to that), we’re used to the occasional squabble. It doesn’t mean these squabbles don’t drive us both a bit crazy (okay, sometimes a lot crazy!) when we aren’t on the same page, but it’s part of marriage in my opinion. There are days I’m madly in love with my husband, days I’m perfectly “okay” with him, and other times … well, there are other times that let’s just say don’t fit into the first two categories. And, I know he feels the same way and I’m alright with that. We’re human. Marriage is wonderful, but tough stuff. Your marriage partner is your friend and just like you have squabbles with other friends, it’s natural to have squabbles with your marriage partner. Mr. GFE and I are both opinionated and passionate people and sometimes we just disagree. Anyway, Friday evening, Mr. GFE tried to start his truck and she did not comply. Her mechanical problem was one he’d experienced before and while he managed to get it running again, he wisely decided that loading it up with camping gear and heading to the mountains was not a good idea. So we had to come up with “Plan B” for celebrating.

Mr. GFE’s cousin, Diane, who lives in California, had stayed with us back in April for several days. She’d left us a note the day of her departure telling us that she’d worked out a deal for us to get half a bushel of steamed crabs from Roy, our favorite local seafood dealer. It’s the kind of deal that only takes place out in the country where folks have known each other all their lives. We were told to pick up the crabs and let her know. Then she’d call Roy to find out how much the crabs were (prices fluctuate throughout the season) and then she’d mail him a check (no credit cards—cash or check only). We were delighted with her very generous thank you gesture, but had been waiting for the right time to enjoy the crabs. Saturday for our anniversary was suddenly the perfect occasion. About 90 minutes after placing our order, we picked up our hot steamed crabs and two pounds of steamed shrimp. Because it was only a half a bushel of crabs, we called my family, which is much smaller than Mr. GFE’s. Both our families can eat a lot of crabs. My sister and her husband were already committed for the evening, but my parents happily helped us eat a good portion of the crabs.

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In our area, steamed Maryland blue crabs are often the main course for our warm weather celebrations. (If you are not familiar with this variety of crabs, they become a rich orange when cooked.) Everyone learns to eat crabs from an early age. First, the parents and other older relatives start out picking some of the crabs for the children and giving them pieces of backfin. Then children are shown how to break open the claws. Some adults don’t even fool with claws, so they just put them aside in a big pile for the kids. Breaking open the claws involves “smashing” them with a crab knocker or a butter knife, so it’s quite a popular activity with children. The best thing is that steamed crabs are naturally gluten free as long as the seasoning used is gluten free and the water they are steamed in is gluten free. While some seafood can be steamed in beer, I’ve personally never known that method to be used for blue crabs. Steaming bushels of crabs takes a lot of water and most vendors are more interested in selling the beer than using it in the steaming process. While steamed shrimp and Alaskan crab legs occasionally are steamed in beer around here, the steamed shrimp we picked up was steamed with water, an Old Bay-like concoction, and pickling spices. It’s delicious and gluten free.

Now what about that beer? Most mainstream beer is not gluten free, but over the last few years more and more gf beers are being added to the market. I’m really not much of a beer drinker myself, so I’ve only tried a few of the gf beers and am really not the best one to offer an opinion. The beer that is most likely to be available is Anheuser-Busch’s Redbridge. It’s sold at restaurants with gf menus like Uno Chicago Grill. Some like it fine and say it has your average beer taste, but others prefer a more specialized beer taste like you’d find at a microbrewery. Our son likes Green’s, but being a poor college student of 21, he laments the cost. Lovely Melissa of Gluten Free for Good recently did a post, gluten free and twenty-something in Chicago, sharing her hip daughter’s recommendations on gluten-free beers and ciders. Pete of No Gluten, No Problem has done several posts on gluten-free beer. Check them all out here. (Note that Pete’s first post shown there is on ginger beer. Ginger beer is really not a beer at all, but has been an occasional favorite “mixer” of ours for the Dark and Stormy drink since we first visited Bermuda on our second anniversary.) Our son also likes Woodchuck Draft Cider on occasion. Woodchuck comes in traditional flavors like amber, but also other more interesting ones like Granny Smith and raspberry. Read more here.

We don’t like to limit our anniversary celebration to just one day, even when planning a more modest event this year. So Sunday morning we were trying to decide where to venture on the motorcycle. Mr. GFE suggested that we head to the middle peninsula of Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay—Deltaville, to be specific. He had just been asked to crew in July weekend sailboat races there and wanted to get reacquainted with the area. I went online and quickly got directions and found out a great place to eat on the water. Remember the Beach Boys tune, Kokomo? Although we have been to the Tiki-bar of the Holiday Isle resort in the Florida Keys that is said to be the inspiration for the song, we certainly didn’t make it there this weekend. But, the restaurant we went to for lunch is called CoCoMo’s. Perhaps the owners came up with a different spelling to avoid any potential litigation, because this waterfront dining spot definitely had some laid-back Key West styling going on—a Deltaville version, but fun nonetheless.

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Mr. GFE and I didn’t even need to look at the menus … we saw what we wanted to eat on the daily specials board:  shrimp and lobster salad pour moi and a CoCoMo burger for him. A CoCoMo burger is a burger topped with Provolone and lump crabmeat. If I hadn’t set my sights on the shrimp and lobster salad I would have been inquiring about the safety of getting a bunless CoCoMo burger myself. I think lump crabmeat would definitely make one not give a darn about no bun! The salad came on a bed of mixed greens. It contained nice-sized pieces of the steamed shrimp and steamed lobster (both prepared safely), chopped celery, mayonnaise, and a tiny bit of dill. A wedge of watermelon was served on the side instead of the usual crackers. It was a delicious and enjoyable meal.

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Afterwards, we walked out on some of the docks and were surprised to see several of them lined with houseboats. Houseboats by the Chesapeake Bay—who knew? Coincidentally, we took a different route home, which took us through the towns we visited when we spent our honeymoon on the Bay. All told we had a lovely anniversary, even exchanging cards later … with mushy, but heartfelt messages. Mr. GFE confessed he almost purchased a funny card, but he was afraid that I wouldn’t receive it well. Really?  We ate crabs for dinner last night and tonight on the screened porch by candlelight—no kidding. Mr. GFE “waxed poetic” about a perfect Monday evening eating crabs with his true love. LOL It was pretty great though. :-)

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There are many gluten-free seafood options. I probably eat steamed shrimp most often as my naturally gf choice. Seafood salads like the one I enjoyed at CoCoMo’s are a frequent favorite. However, beware of those made with the artificial crabmeat, officially known as surimi and sometimes called Krabmeat. The artificial crabmeat contains gluten. Subway, among others, makes its seafood salad with this artificial, unsafe crabmeat. Crab sushi can often be surimi. Next on my favorite gf seafood list would be different varieties of fish, like salmon and mahi mahi. Steamed crabs are always a favorite as already shown, but more for a special treat on occasion. We saw some folks eating steamed clams at Cocomo’s and Mr. GFE is a huge fan of oysters, which I put in the same category. Oysters can be naturally gf in a milk-based stew or roasted in the shell. I’ve even made hubby some terrific gf fried ones using a mix of cornmeal and my gf flour mix. (I plan to test this same recipe to make fried calamari soon.) Steamed lobster is a safe and fabulous choice and even an economical one if you live in some coastal areas of Maine. Seafood ceviches can be a flavorful way to start a meal in the tropics. Legal Sea Foods is one national seafood restaurant chain here in the U.S. that is known for its gluten-free menu and fine meals.  If you are a seafood lover, what’s your favorite naturally gluten free seafood to eat out or in? And, if you enjoy gluten-free beer or cider with your seafood, which brands do you prefer?

Not just gf, but gfe!

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30 Responses to “A Little Trip to “Kokomo””

  1. H.Peter on June 16th, 2009 8:39 am

    GFE Seafood. How good an idea. Except if you are landlocked in AB! That shrimp&lobster salad looks very very good.
    Too bad about the truck. And yet you had a great weekend.

    I love the fan int hat Restaurant, with the old paddles.

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 6:19 pm

      H.Peter–Your paella is a gfe seafood dish. ;-) It doesn’t have to be fresh seafood, but it is nice during the season to enjoy fresh. You need a trip to the coast!

      “Plan B” alternatives often turn out very well—the surprise of the unexpected! No worries on the truck. All fixed at no cost. The part that failed was under warranty. :-)

      What the photo doesn’t show well is that the fans are powered by a pulley system, so definitely old-world style.


  2. Heather on June 16th, 2009 10:41 am


    Happy Anniversary! What a nice post. And I agree about the squabbles. I think that what is important is how you handle them, and communication. I hope you have many, many more wonderful anniversary celebrations!

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 6:23 pm

      Hi, Heather!–Thanks so much! Oh, we’re big on communicating … LOL. Passionate, opinionated people usually are. ;-) But, seriously, I agree. Thanks again!


  3. Nance on June 16th, 2009 11:34 am

    Happy Anniversary, Shirley! You and your husband have been together about as long as Rick and I! And we’ll be celebrating our 28th this July with a few together before our marriage as well. Your Anniversary Weekend sounds very nice, as does the seafood. Crab is “worky”, but with the right company, well worth it!

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 6:26 pm

      Hey, Nance–Is that why those conversations between you and Rick that you sometimes share on your site sound so familiar? ;-) We’re at about the same place. Ah, you got to squeeze in your “worky” wordl—nice job! LOL Crabs are a social networking event … hey, maybe I should invent a social button for them. I was born under their astrological sign of Cancer after all. :-)

      Thanks, Nance. Your 28th will be here soon. Exciting!


  4. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) on June 16th, 2009 11:59 am

    Happy Anniversary to you and Mr. GFE! Ahh, the ebb and flow of squabbles – similar to the moon cycles aren’t they? Sounds like your change of plans worked out beautifully in the end! :)

    I never developed a taste for lobster, crabs, oysters, etc. But I love cold water fish wild salmon and halibut!

    -Ali :)

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 8:48 pm

      Ali–Thanks very much! :-) Ah, you get it re: the squabbles. It’s reassuring to hear that other married folks get it. The fact that the squabbles are like moon cycles is definitely encouraging if you focus on the part about knowing they will pass. ;-)

      The change of plans did work out just fine. It was fun and appropriate to spend our anniversary with mom and dad (since we stayed at their former place at the Bay on our honeymoon) and then take in some new scenery on Sunday.

      It just always shocks me when I hear that folks don’t love the seafood that’s native to our area and further up the East Coast. Personally, I don’t eat oysters (even if they are local), but I love your area’s salmon and halibut!


  5. CoconutGal on June 16th, 2009 2:06 pm

    What a lovely anniversary you and Mr. GFE had!! Congratulations :-)
    The squabbles just make me appreciate my husband all the more once we say our sorrys and make up!
    Shirley, you will be shocked, but I have NEVER had crab!! Ever! The only seafood I have ventured to try is salmon and halibut and this has only been since I have lived on my own. Growing up we were never fed anything from the sea. I am actually a bit afraid of shellfish, although- I bet I would do fine. I want to try your recipe for steamed shrimp, it sounds very delicious! So my favorite is grilled salmon with just some salt. I love to let the flavor shine through and don’t usually like breading or sauces much. Grilled veggies are always a great addition as well. Yummm! I will let you know if I get brave enough to try the shrimp, you’ve inspired me!

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 8:55 pm

      CoconutGal–Ah, thanks! Yeah, make-up hugs and kisses are the best. ;-)

      I am shocked. I haven’t met a crab I didn’t like yet. I didn’t even mention all the types of crabs I’ve tried and loved. It’s hard to imagine not being fed anything from the sea. We were fed much from the sea. And, even in leaner times, fish we caught were a good fallback for my family and us as a young couple. Oh, I agree on not needing breading and sauces much for good fish. Grilled fish and grilled veggies are a wonderful, satisfying meal.

      Well, if you try the shrimp, don’t eat too much at first to see how you do. (I appreciate the fact that you have a very sensitive digestive system.) If it’s a good experience, please let me know. ;-)


  6. Peter Bronski on June 16th, 2009 2:33 pm

    Hey Shirley,

    Congrats on your anniversary! Thanks for the tip about some seafood potentially being steamed with some beer. I’ve never come across that personally, so I’m glad to be forewarned. I always steam my seafood in salted water.

    Also, I’ve done a few posts (and magazine articles) over time about many of the GF beers out there. Feel free to have a look! http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com/search/label/beer (ignore the Reed’s Ginger Beer that shows up at the top… the rest focus on “traditional” GF beer…)


    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 9:10 pm

      Hey there, Pete–Thank you! Usually restaurants are pretty straightforward about saying that the seafood is steamed in beer because they think it’s an extra selling point. But, sometimes, it’s been in the fine print or I’ve found out only when I asked. Sometimes they’ll cook it in a separate pot with plain or salted water for you, but that doesn’t always give me enough of a level of confidence that it’s safe. So, I usually pass.

      And, special thanks for your blog post on beer. I think I remember it now and am sorry I didn’t include it in my post. As soon as I finish replying to comments, I’m updating my post to include a link to it. We need to help folks with these tough choices, you know? ;-)

      Now, don’t be ignoring the ginger beer … LOL … BTW, have you had that Dark and Stormy yet? Mr. GFE just made a new friend the other day—a gentleman who was wearing a Gosling’s Black Seal Rum t-shirt. ;-)


      P.S. I was reading (and commenting) too quickly before … I see now that you did several posts on beer (hence the “search” comment … I get it now). Still I’ll gladly include your link so folks can read your many helpful reviews. :-)

  7. Alisa - Frugal Foodie on June 16th, 2009 3:29 pm

    Happy belated anniversary! Sounded a like a fun one!

    • Shirley on June 16th, 2009 9:15 pm

      Hi, Alisa–Thanks very much! I think all anniversaries are fun … we’ve done so many different things over the years from low-key to very celebratory—all good. ;-)


  8. RobinSue on June 17th, 2009 4:46 am

    Happy anniversary Shirley! The squabbling is a good thing since it is so much fun making up, right? Sounds like you two had a great time and a fun trip. I have never been to the areas you have described. I think we need to explore the Bay area more. Himself and I are exact opposites- I am an abstract/random and he is a concrete/sequential, he is orderly and I am not. It makes for interesting conversations in my house and arguments. Thankgoodness for his concreteness because with him the bills get paid, with me, maybe, maybe not! Speaking of beer, I am going to a beer dinner tonight downtown DC. There will be a different beer with every course, I am not a big drinker so I will ask for mine in a shot glass! Have a great day Shirley!

    • Shirley on June 17th, 2009 9:03 pm

      Robin Sue–Thanks so much! Yes, making up is very nice. :-) There’s a lot to explore in the Bay area. It’s always a good idea to scope out the area you’re headed to a little bit though; otherwise, you could get stuck in area with no restaurants or even a way to see much of the water. Opposites do attract, don’t they? We are drawn to those who have qualities we don’t possess. Mr. GFE is more easy going than I am on many subjects. I consider it an attractive quality, but also maddening sometimes. LOL As a team, we’re pretty unbeatable. ;-) I’m sure you and Himself are, too. That beer dinner sounds interesting. I can’t wait to hear the report!

      Thanks for stopping by with anniversary wishes!

  9. Kay on June 17th, 2009 9:13 am

    I’ve been to Kokomo in Key West. It’s touristy and not one of my favorite spots. My favorite restaurant in the world is in Key West. It’s called Blue Heaven, and I’ve actually dreamed about that restaraunt. Wish I was there now!

    My favorite gf beer is New Grist. It’s the “Coors Light” of gf beers. My favorite bar owner orders it special for me, bless his heart! The bowling alley orders Red Bridge for me, and they report that a couple of other regulars are now drinking it. Both beers are improved by squeezing a slice of lime into the bottle. Yum!

    Happy anniversary! Love the houseboats!

    • Shirley on June 17th, 2009 9:10 pm

      Hey, Kay!–I’ve only been to the Kokomo bar at the Holiday Isle resort in Islamorada (upper Keys). That’s supposed to be the one the song is named after. But, thanks for the warning as we love Key West. We’re even talking about going this year at Christmas and New Year’s—our favorite time to be there. We haven’t been to Blue Heaven yet, but I looked at its menu and photos on its site. It looks great. The courtyard area looks a lot like Kelly’s, which is one of our favorite hangout spots there. Have you been there since you’ve been gluten free?

      Thanks for the beer recommendations! I was hoping to get some for the gfe readers. I’ve had New Grist before. Not being much of a beer drinker, I couldn’t really tell that it was better than the others. LOL Glad your barkeep folks are looking out for you. They are kind and smart–they certainly sell more beer that way. We have a Total Wine and Beer store in town and they only carry Redbridge and always run out of it. Now Business 101 says if something’s selling, you need to keep enough on hand to keep people supplied. My gf beer-drinking friends get so aggravated with them.

      Those houseboats are cute. If we ever go back, I’m going to ask for a tour. Several owners were sitting on their decks enjoying libations. All were friendly. ;-)

      Thanks for the anniversary wishes!

      • Kay on June 25th, 2009 8:52 am

        I have yet to chance a gluten free vacation. So I haven’t seen the ocean in a year and a half. I’m in withdrawl! I really miss the fishing in Key West. FYI Captain John’s Greyhound offers a great half day of fishing – cheap! The big boat is in Garrison Bight and leaves daily at 11:00 am, returns at 4. Everybody catches fish. Plus, it’s a great boat ride. Pack lunch and drinks in your cooler and come home with dinner. Many restaurants will cook your catch. The Half Shell Raw Bar on Caroline does a great job.

        I still think of Kelly’s as a “new bar” on Key West. Ha! My first visit was in the 80s, after Mel Fisher found the Atocha. Before Mel was a treasure slavor, he was a chicken farmer in Indiana. We followed his story for years and had to celebrate when finally found the motherload. Today’s the Day!

        • Shirley on June 25th, 2009 6:57 pm

          Hey, Kay!–A gluten-free vacation doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve been on many since my diagnosis in 2003. I know you have other food restrictions though and dealing with them all in combination might be more difficult. I highly recommend the condos at Truman Annex in Key West if you want an option where you can make most of your meals. Get a few people and rent one. They are really nice and come in all price ranges. Easy walk to everything. Of course, Truman’s Little White House is also there, which is definitely worth a visit.

          I didn’t remember that Mel was from Indiana and I didn’t know he was a chicken farmer. You’ve educated me today! BTW, is there something you want to tell us, Kay? Are your new chicken coop and happy chickens part of a master plan? Inquiring minds want to know … We’ve been to Mel’s museum twice. With Mr. GFE being a scuba diver, we’re always interested in sea treasures. :-) Fascinating and compelling as his venture with the Atocha was, it was not without personal loss that those treasures were discovered.

          Thanks for the info on the fishing charters. Mr. GFE and son might do that if we all make it there together one day. I think I’ll hang at Kelly’s while they are out. ;-) Or maybe check out one of the older haunts.


  10. kelly on June 17th, 2009 7:05 pm

    Happy Anniversary Shirley! Cheers to you two!

    You make me miss the Bay so much!!! ;-) Lovely post!

    Also my fave is Woodchuck cider. I like all of the flavors.

    Love, Kelly

    • Shirley on June 17th, 2009 9:20 pm

      Kelly–Aw, thanks! We’re still celebrating unofficially. We hope to finally make it up to our mtn property this weekend. Sorry to make you miss the Bay though … hopefully, my post brought back some fond memories for you. :-)

      Special thanks for the Woodchuck endorsement! I know folks will be grateful for that info. I confess I haven’t tried it yet myself, but plan on doing so soon. Hey, maybe this weekend. One thing that’s nice about Woodchuck, at least around here, is that it’s not considered a gf specialty product, but rather a mainstream product, and is more widely available than the gf beers.


  11. kelly on June 18th, 2009 6:26 pm

    That’s true, I never thought of it like that! Actually I was drinking Woodchuck long before I was gluten-free, come to think of it :-) It came from spending time in Scotland and England, where we drank lots of cider. Kind of caught on to us :-)

    • Shirley on June 19th, 2009 10:32 am

      Hi again, Kelly–I like the Scotland and England part!! And, thanks for sharing your experience on the availability of Woodchuck and the fact that you drank it before. I love all products that are naturally gluten free, as you know! gfe! :-)


  12. glutenfreeforgood on June 18th, 2009 11:02 pm


    Thanks for the mention — I do appreciate it!

    You won’t believe this, but I read this whole post a couple of days ago (probably right after you wrote it). I enjoyed your thoughts on marriage, beer, seafood, the Beach Boys, etc., then I got side tracked wandering off on various links and I guess I just commented to you in my own mind, not on your blog. Geez, I could have sworn I found my way back to your “leave a reply” room, but apparently not. What a goof (me, not you)!


    I’m not that crazy about seafood for some reason. Guess that’s the result of land-locked living, but I do like wild-caught salmon and I love trout. As for the GF beer, I’ll skip that and have a nice glass of Pinot Noir, please. I like the northwest varieties.

    Great post, Shirley! And happy late anniversary to you and Mr. GFE! Sounds like you two are a good pair, even on the off days!


    • Shirley on June 19th, 2009 10:40 am

      Hi, Melissa!–LOL I’m so relieved when I hear someone else does that kind of stuff … one can definitely go down the link “hole” and lose touch with reality a bit! ;-) You know how I feel about salmon, and trout is also a favorite of mine! Mr. GFE even caught a rainbow trout when we were canoeing and fishing off our property last year. That guy was not supposed to be there! He must have gotten flushed out of the cold-water streams that feed into the river. We released him, hoping he’d find his way to another good spot. But, I do enjoy trout out as often as possible. Almond-crusted trout is divine!

      Yes, wine, cocktail, or safe liqueur for me–thanks very much! But, I am going to try the cider soon.

      Thanks very much for the anniversary wishes, dear, and all the kind words! :-)


  13. Cindi on June 21st, 2009 9:31 pm

    I need to check into renting a houseboat for Don and me – wonder if there’s such a thing as a handicap-accessible one? Hmm . . . that would be wonderful. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Shirley on June 22nd, 2009 8:11 am

      Cindi–We inquired if any of these houseboats were rentals and they weren’t. But, I’m betting there are ADA-equipped houseboats out there. They say vacations on the larger ones can be awesome!


  14. Diane-thewholegang on June 28th, 2009 5:52 pm

    Wow, I am so behind. I can’t believe I totally missed this post. Glad you had a great time on your anniversary. I like the categories you came up with. Have to remember that one. I’ll just give him a number, 1, 2 or 3. He’ll have to figure it out. I can’t believe you had a table full of crabs and didn’t call me to come. I love eating crabs. So now I have to find out where around here I can get myself a table full of these beauties. I really miss that. I could spend all day cracking and eating crabs. I actually did that on an early date with my husband. Took me out to the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House and they had all you can eat crabs. Most expensive thing on the menu and I ordered it. Can you believe he asked me out again after that! Knew he was a keeper. Well I hope you have more 1′s and 2′s than 3′s!

    • Shirley on June 28th, 2009 9:26 pm

      Hi, Diane–I had to subscribe to your posts to keep from getting behind. It’s easy to get behind, I know. I am always playing catch up myself.

      1, 2, or 3 … LOL … it goes both ways though. What’s really bad are the days when you are both thinking 3!! But, those 1 days … heaven. ;-) I hope you had a great anniversary as well. I’ll always remember now that ours are just a week apart.

      Oh, that sounds like a great date with your husband! He was probably thrilled in the end because with all the time it took to crack and eat those crabs, he really got to know you! A true social activity … before the likes of Facebook and Twitter. ;-)


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