The 23 Best Cookbooks of Spring 2023

The 23 Best Cookbooks of Spring 2023

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Reviewing the best cookbooks of spring 2023 was like attending a different kind of culinary school. I cooked through dozens of cookbooks, working my way through recipes—both good and bad—and ended up with a fridge constantly overflowing with leftovers. (I even started a mailing list to share my bounty with the other people in my building, because there’s only so much food I can eat.) I found myself happily diving into techniques that were unfamiliar to me, like incorporating clarified butter into croissant dough or making Indonesian spice pastes, and cuisines I had only ever experienced in a restaurant but had never attempted to recreate in my own kitchen. Some of the books below encouraged me to cook out of my comfort zone, while others were simply fun to cook through. All 23 of these spring releases, however, left me feeling inspired—and, most important, well-fed. 

More Than Cake by Natasha Pickowicz

I can’t be the only one who was devastated when Flora Coffee shuttered in 2021. As a young cook, I spent many of my precious days off trekking to New York’s Upper East Side for pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz’s baked goods. She made the most magnificent sticky buns, savory scones, cookies, and loaf cakes—pastries so good I still think about them. 

Luckily for me, I can now recreate many of Pickowicz’s recipes at home. Easy, stress-free baking is all the rage these days, but I love that Pickowicz encourages her readers to think of baking “not as an overwhelming means to an end but as a meditative process to enjoy in and of itself.” Take your time making her brown butter, buckwheat, and chocolate chunk cookies (which require a 24-hour rest in the fridge to fully hydrate the dough, which is the secret to crispy edges) and the salty-sweet pecan and black cardamom sticky buns made with a no-knead honey brioche. You’ll be so pleased you did.

Tenderheart by Hetty Lui McKinnon

I’ve long been a fan of Hetty Lui McKinnon’s recipes, which prove that vegetarian cooking is anything but boring. I continue to turn to her last book, To Asia, With Love, often, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been cooking enthusiastically from her newest one. 

The book is an ode to her late father, a fresh produce supplier who passed away when she was just 15. I found McKinnon’s writing on love, grief, food, and identity to be incredibly touching and relatable. My mother was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s when I was just 19, and reading the book, I understood exactly what she meant when she wrote about why food is meaningful to her. “Food has always been emotional for me,” she writes. “It is tied to my identity, my heritage, my family and my community. It represents the experiences of the generations before me, and it is a legacy for my children. In food, I find my home, and in this vegetable life I have found a way to stay connected to my dad.”

What I appreciate most about Tenderheart is how McKinnon highlights different ways to use Asian vegetables beyond how they’re typically prepared: stir-fried, poached, or stirred into a casserole. She incorporates choy sum into her galette with feta and chars gai lan for a savory salad dressed in soy tahini. The book is divided into chapters by vegetable, and I love that McKinnon devotes so much space to taro, a starchy tuber that happens to be one of my favorites. If you’re looking for creative ways to eat more vegetables, Tenderheart is a great place to begin.

The Everlasting Meal Cookbook by Tamar Adler

This is the book I’ve been waiting for all my life! As someone who develops and tests recipes for a living, my fridge is a constant treasure trove of leftovers. While I’ve tried to be judicious about incorporating these bits and bobs into my cooking, it can be challenging to feel excited while doing it. Tamar Adler’s book is a follow-up to An Everlasting Meal, her book of essays on eating well while cooking frugally. The Everlasting Meal Cookbook offers a rejuvenating approach to using up odd ends and making the most of your ingredients, even ones you normally wouldn’t think twice about tossing. Cherry stems? Steep them to make tea. Banana peels? Use them in thoran, an Indian dry-fry. Leftover mozzarella or feta brine? Use it to marinate your chicken. 

Adler’s conversational tone feels like a friend cheering you on as you rummage through your fridge for dinner. On cabbage and self-doubt: “You may find yourself with forgotten or neglected or graying cabbage—which you could call ‘dubious cabbage,’ except that it is you who are dubious, not the cabbage.” If Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar were a cooking column, I suspect it might look something like this book. Adler reminds me that I am not alone in my journey to repurpose and extend the life of my fridge and pantry contents, and her book has not only inspired me to be more thoughtful about the way I cook but also the way I save my scraps. Good beginnings, she advises, come from good ends. As her friend humorously suggested, perhaps the book should have been called How to Cook Everything…Again. It’s a lesson I think we could all use.

An Everlasting Meal Cookbook

The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliot

I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Indonesian food in restaurants, but I had never attempted to make it at home until I got my hands on this book from Petty Pandean-Elliot, a noted Indonesian chef and writer. Her book offers a glimpse into the rich, diverse culinary traditions of Indonesia, a country spanning three time zones and home to more than 700 local dialects. “The marriage of Arabic, Indian, European (Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish), Chinese, and Peranakan influences with our indigenous ingredients has culminated in a fantastically original culinary tapestry,” she writes. Try your hand at making bumbus—spice pastes that serve as the foundation for many Indonesian dishes—then dive into the fragrant curries, braises, and refreshing salads. The bogor tempeh laksa is a deeply satisfying noodle dish, but I’m also a fan of sayur lodeh, a simple vegetable curry.

Vegetable Revelations by Steven Satterfield

The recipes in James Beard Award–winning chef Steven Satterfield’s new book embody the way I, and I’m sure many others, want to eat all the time: seasonal, plant-focused meals filled with flavor and texture. While not strictly vegetarian, Satterfield’s goal is to get home cooks excited about fresh produce and to encourage his readers to make vegetables the star of their meals. 

One of the ways he does that is through one big (and in hindsight, obvious) lesson: Knife work is crucial in vegetable-centric dishes. As Satterfield notes in the introduction, whether you’re dicing, slicing, or grating, how you choose to prep your vegetables will change how they feel and taste. And beyond knife cuts, his recipes for “flavor bombs” (what he describes as “palate-pushing condiments”) and savory sauces, like seaweed-chile butter and carrot-top chermoula, are extremely handy for livening up your vegetables.

Some of the recipes, like celery root noodles with smoked trout and beurre blanc, certainly feel chef-y and slightly fancy, but the book is balanced by homier comforts like the roast chicken and turnip tray bake. I look forward to trying the spring and summer recipes like grilled asparagus with saffron aioli and fava bean primavera once warmer weather arrives. Until then, I’ll be continuing to make batches of the Savannah red rice with okra and smoked sausage.

Love Is a Pink Cake by Claire Ptak

For Claire Ptak, the owner of London’s famed Violet Bakery, cake is a love language: It’s how you show someone you care. Ptak’s baking style, which she describes as “pairing English ingredients with a Californian sensibility,” is reflective of her California roots and her time cooking at Chez Panisse, chef Alice Waters’s legendary farm-to-table restaurant in Berkeley. 

In this book, you’ll find fruit-forward pastries like fig tartlets, a green plum cake, and a grape slab pie excellent for midday snacking. (While the fruity desserts are lovely, my favorite recipe may be the white chocolate matcha blondies.) But there’s also special occasion desserts like a peach tarte Tatin served with peach leaf custard and even the lemon and elderflower wedding cake Ptak baked for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Ptak’s goal is to highlight seasonal produce and to make ingredients taste more like themselves by “lifting them with salts, sugars, acids, fats, and bitterness.” 

100 Morning Treats by Sarah Kieffer

You probably don’t need 100 different recipes for morning pastries, but I guarantee you’ll want to try every single one of the breads, muffins, and rolls in Sarah Kieffer’s latest book. Kieffer, who spent years honing her baking skills at Minnesota coffee shops like Blue Heron in Winona and Bordertown Coffee in Minneapolis, wrote this book to “celebrate the morning hours.” Though she hasn’t always been a morning person, she’s grown to appreciate those dark, early hours, when it’s quiet enough for her mind to wander and revel in the act of baking.

The book is a collection of recipes she’s developed over the past 30 years in cafés and at home, and in it, you’ll find comforting coffee shop classics like blueberry muffins, streusel coffee cake, and monkey bread. My personal favorite is Kieffer’s fluffy, tender buttermilk cinnamon rolls glazed in a tangy cream cheese frosting, but I also love her muffin recipes, which incorporate almond flour for a light crumb. Perhaps what I loved most about Kieffer’s book is the reminder that breakfast doesn’t have to be boring. Rather, it can be an opportunity to play with flavors and textures. Incorporate white chocolate (along with dried fruit) into your scones, make a breakfast cake, or top your quick breads with meringue and bake them until the tops are crisp and golden brown. I may not be a morning person, but thanks to 100 Morning Treats, I know that I am most definitely a breakfast person. 

A Cook’s Book by Nigel Slater

I’ve always found Nigel Slater’s writing and cooking ethos to be remarkably soothing, and I’ve long considered him to be my cooking therapist. In a world where cooking has become a stressful activity for so many, the legendary British food writer reminds us that it can and should also be pleasurable. It’s not only about feeding yourself and others but also savoring “quiet moments of joy.”

Though his recipes taste like you’ve spent hours sweating away in the kitchen, most of them are fairly straightforward. The chicken with leeks, orzo, peas, and parsley—a quick braise—has become a go-to dinner on busy weeknights, while the rice with salmon and Japanese pickles is what I crave when I’m in search of something comforting but nourishing. “Casual does not mean careless,” Slater writes. His work proves that simple cooking with good ingredients will often result in a sumptuous meal if approached thoughtfully, and in A Cook’s Book, you’ll find plenty of relaxed, intentionally crafted meals to return to over and over again. 

Cook It Wild by Chris Nuttall-Smith

I am not a big wilderness gal—in fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone camping in my life. But this book from Chris Nuttall-Smith, a food writer and Top Chef Canada judge, has so many clever, delicious recipes fit for the outdoors that it makes me wish I was more adventurous. Perhaps the most ingenious part of the book is that his five “rules” for eating well outdoors—chopping, mixing, cooking, sealing, and freezing food ahead of time—are also applicable to everyday cooking. If you’re a camper, great! If not, don’t fret: You can still cook many of the recipes in the comfort of your home. Don’t sleep on pistachio mint noodles (which, unlike most pesto recipes, incorporates butter in addition to olive oil for an extra silky sauce) or the cidery baked beans made with balsamic-marinated shallots and both bacon and smoked ham hock. 

Tin to Table by Anna Hezel

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that tinned fish is having a moment. For Anna Hezel, though, preserved seafood’s rise in popularity is more than fleeting. “There’s never been a more exciting or auspicious time to eat tinned seafood,” she writes. “While it might be tempting to call it a trend, I think of it more as an art form that’s still being forged and perfected, several centuries in.” 

Tin to Table proves the versatility (and necessity) of tinned fish in your pantry, whether you eat it straight from the can, as a snack, or incorporate it into your lunch or dinner. The Caesar popcorn is a delightful nosh that takes all of five minutes to whip up—just mash the anchovies, microwave the paste with butter and garlic, and toss it with the popcorn—and has all the rich, savory flavors of the iconic salad. And if you’re looking to transform pantry staples into an elegant meal, try the marinated French lentil and smoked trout salad. Hezel’s book will encourage you to treat tinned fish with the same appreciation and respect with which you might approach a fresh fillet—if not more. 

Everyday Grand by Jocelyn Delk Adams

This book from Jocelyn Delk Adams, the founder of the Grandbaby Cakes blog, almost feels like it belongs in the self-help genre, and I mean that in the best way possible. Intense joy radiates from each and every page, which brim with positive affirmations and words of wisdom. Adams wants you to celebrate the little things that make life special, no matter how small or insignificant they may feel, with comforting yet creative recipes. Think orange-and-lavender-scented popovers and salmon glazed with whiskey and sweet tea. The standout recipe of the book, though, has to be Adams’s carrot cake, which won The Kitchn’s carrot cake showdown. Made with a brown butter-cream cheese frosting and generously spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, it is one of the best carrot cakes I’ve had.

Ever-Green Vietnamese by Andrea Nguyen

Though not an exclusively vegetarian cookbook, this volume from the noted Vietnamese food authority and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen reimagines classic Vietnamese recipes with more vegetables and plant-based proteins. “Vietnamese cuisine is not all about beef-laden bowls of pho and meaty-stuffed sandwiches,” Nguyen writes. “The cuisine—with its inherent customization, rich Buddhist traditions, and emphasis on vegetables, herbs, fruits, and plant-based proteins—is a natural mechanism for cutting back on meat and developing a greener approach to living.”

As someone who is always trying to incorporate more plant-focused meals into my diet, I found Nguyen’s book refreshing. Tofu—rather than readily available alternatives meant to mimic meat—stars as the main source of protein in the book, with assists from fresh vegetables and herbs that lend each dish vivid complexity. Though I was admittedly skeptical about the deluxe vegan pho, it proved to be one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. Warm with cloves, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds, and ginger, the fragrant broth comes together in a pressure cooker and gets an umami boost from a sheet of kombu and a touch of both Marmite and MSG. Pro tip: Make a batch, keep the broth in your freezer, and you’ll be able to have pho whenever the mood strikes.

Mayumu by Abi Balingit

There are plenty of baking cookbooks out there, but you’re unlikely to find another one with as much personality as this one from Abi Balingit (a.k.a. @theduskykitchen). She was raised in the Bay Area and the Central Valley of California, and her recipes reflect both her Filipino American heritage and the many other cultures she grew up around. She pairs her dad’s leche flan with chai, incorporates the Mexican condiment chamoy into her pichi-pichi (a steamed cassava cake), and makes her beach pie—a dessert typically made with a saltine crust and a citrusy filling reminiscent of a lemon meringue tart—with calamansi. Balingit’s bold, cuisine-defying recipes have encouraged me to think outside the box in a way not many other cookbooks have, and I suspect it will leave you feeling inspired too. I mean, adobo cookies? Genius.

Win Son Presents a Taiwanese American Cookbook by Josh Ku, Trigg Brown, and Cathy Erway

Run by Josh Ku and Trigg Brown, Win Son and Win Son Bakery in Brooklyn are known for what they dub Taiwanese American food, and their recipes—which co-author Cathy Erway describes as “weird and sometimes convoluted and nonsensical”—reflect that. Think of duck confit inspired by two Taiwanese classics, turkey rice and lu rou fan (minced pork belly over rice); five-spiced fried chicken and waffles speckled with black sesame seeds; and satisfyingly chewy blueberry mochi muffins.  

“We came up with ‘Taiwanese American food’ because we didn’t want to purport authenticity and we didn’t want to say ‘fusion’ either,” Brown writes. “We wanted the food to express the culinary impression Taiwan has made on us.” Ku, Brown, and Erway’s book includes classic recipes like three-cup chicken and also showcases unconventional ways of using Taiwanese ingredients, like charring Chinese broccoli for a salad, roasting—instead of steaming—a whole fish, and incorporating fermented bean curd into mayonnaise. The book encourages you to forget what you think you know about Taiwanese food and embrace cooking the Win Son way.

Win Son Presents a Taiwanese American Cookbook

Sweet Enough by Alison Roman

Alison Roman is a controversy magnet—and a very good recipe developer whose latest cookbook is entirely delightful to use. Like the multi-hyphenate recipe developer’s previous books Dining In and Nothing FancySweet Enough is filled with fun, approachable recipes that Roman herself describes as “a little wild-looking and decidedly unkempt.” There’s salted lemon cream pie, refrigerated carrot cake sans raisins and nuts—Roman’s preferred formula for the dessert—and  “extra” coconut cake that is “tall and fuzzy like an obnoxious angora sweater.” These are the desserts—delicious without being fussy, yet still special enough for a nice occasion—that keep me coming back for more. If you don’t like to bake but would like to be the kind of person who can bake, Sweet Enough is the book for you.

Sweet Enough: A Dessert Cookbook

Salad Seasons by Sheela Prakash

It may be easy to think of summer as the best time for salads, but for Sheela Prakash, every season can be salad season if you know how to build a great one. In this book, Prakash, a cookbook author and contributing editor at The Kitchn, teaches you the fundamentals of salad making, like how important it is to season and taste your ingredients as you go, and she will inspire you to think outside of the sad box of salad greens you may be accustomed to. The bittersweet radicchio salad dressed in a punchy vinaigrette of pomegranate molasses, orange juice, and olive oil got me through the dreariness of winter when all I wanted was something crisp and juicy while the caramelized fennel and white bean salad has become a favorite lunch staple of mine. There are no sad desk lunches in Prakash’s world, just fabulous salads no matter the season.

On the Curry Trail by Raghavan Iyer

Before his death at the end of March, Raghavan Iyer spent much of his life researching and writing about Indian cuisine. New York Times national food correspondent Kim Severson wrote that he “has by some estimations taught more Americans how to cook Indian food than anyone else.” In this encyclopedic cookbook, he continues his signature intensive culinary exploration by tracing the origins of curry powder and how the ingredient has become embedded in so many cuisines around the world, all the while unpacking its complexity in terms of colonialism and also of trade, migration, and shifting borders.

Rarely do you come across a cookbook so deeply researched and comprehensive in nature. Beyond the extensive history, readers will also find recipes for curries from across the globe, like Malaysian curry noodles with shrimp, South African bunny chow, and German currywurst. Rich with coconut milk and fragrant with fresh curry leaves, the egg noodle soup from Myanmar was one of the most comforting things I had eaten in a long time. I also loved the pan-fried tofu with red curry; it’s worth taking the time to make your own curry paste for the dish, which will fill your home with the aroma of chiles, lemongrass, and galangal. Though curry powder remains a controversial ingredient, On the Curry Trail demonstrates just how impactful this ingredient has been and continues to be. 

Asada by Bricia Lopez With Javier Cabral

Let this cookbook, which is entirely dedicated to the art and culture of Mexican grilling, be your guide to outdoor hosting this summer. Asada, Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral write, is more than a taco: It “means family, friends, memories, great music, cold drinks, good times, and the community you’ve built—all centered on the promise of juicy grilled meat and all the fixings that remind you of your upbringing.” The cookbook walks you through how to host your own backyard gathering, from the pantry staples and equipment you’ll need to the different cuts of meat to use, like flap steak (or ranchera) and flanken beef costillitas, which Lopez describes as the “MVP of carne asada cuts.”

I’ve often seen people wipe their grill grates with onions, and it turns out there’s an explanation for why. Onions contain plenty of allicin, an antimicrobial compound, that helps to effectively clean your grill. “For extra gunk-fighting power,” Lopez and Cabral write, “you can spray the grates with lemon juice or white vinegar first. The extra acidity helps the cleaning process. Never doubt Mexican wisdom again.” It’s perhaps the most clever and practical tip in the book—after all, no one likes a schmutzy grill. 

The grilled meats are luscious, but don’t skip the sides, salsas, beverages, and sweets—I especially love the cactus salad and grilled plantains with pineapple. Cinnamon lends a surprising warmth to the salsa roja ranchera, while the salsa frita verde relies on a secret ingredient—chicken bouillon powder—for an umami boost. Come summertime, you’ll find me hosting my own asada with recipes from Lopez and Cabral’s book.

Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling

Company by Amy Thielen

There’s nothing I love more than cooking for people dear to me, and I aspire to be the kind of person who regularly throws dinner parties where you sit and chat late into the evening over a glass of wine while picking at leftovers. Amy Thielen’s book captures that ethos so well and is refreshingly honest about what dinner parties are really about. “I probably shouldn’t say this,” she muses, “because this is a cookbook and I’m supposed to be selling the culinary dream or something, but when you’re having people over, the food doesn’t really matter. Specifically, I mean that no one else will ever care about the food as much as you and I do.” 

Still, Thielen’s book is full of thoughtful menus featuring recipes that few would be disappointed to be served, like a Friday night fish fry that stars deep-fried sour cream walleye; iceberg plate salad with green chile dressing; steamed and glazed white sweet potatoes; and a garlic-coconut-scented rice. For dessert? Pavlova with winter citrus, olive oil, and salt. Even if you don’t plan on hosting a dinner party anytime soon, it’s worth picking up the book just for Thielen’s great writing.

Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others

Yogurt and Whey by Homa Dashtaki

This cookbook-slash-memoir not only tells the story of Homa Dashtaki and her family’s path from Iran to the United States but also the birth of her now-beloved company, White Moustache. When she was laid off from her job as a lawyer in 2008, she decided to make yogurt. If you’ve ever had White Moustache yogurt, you’ll understand why that was a genius move: It’s luxuriously creamy and has just the right amount of tang. In this book, you’ll find the recipe for this very yogurt, among many other dishes—like yogurt-marinated fried chicken, Persian egg drop soup, and an assortment of beverages—that incorporate the cultured dairy and its by-product, whey. 

The book is a beautiful, intimate glimpse into Dashtaki’s journey and the important role yogurt has played in her life. “Yogurt has been the thread that runs through my attempts at creating community, of being in touch with my ancestors,” she writes. “The way I make yogurt, and even the way I eat yogurt, is based on their teachings.” I haven’t found time to make yogurt as regularly as I’d like, but Dashtaki’s book has left me with a newfound appreciation for how you can take one ingredient—milk—and with a little time and patience, transform it into something new. The book encourages you to partake in “an uncompromising exercise in using all parts of what the environment and climate give us,” something we can all do a little more of, no matter what we’re cooking.

Yogurt & Whey: Recipes of an Iranian Immigrant Life

The Five Elements Cookbook by Zoey Xinyi Gong

When I was growing up, my parents (we’re Chinese) often made casual comments about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and how certain foods could throw your health off-balance, like how eating too much fried or spicy food could contribute to yin deficiency and how eating cooling foods like bitter melon or winter melon could help you regain balance. Among Chinese families, there seemed to be some common understanding about TCM that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. I imagine this information must have been passed down via word of mouth from generation to generation, just as my parents had been sharing it with me. 

In this book, Zoey Xinyi Gong, a chef, registered dietitian, and TCM practitioner, does just that but in an easily digestible way. She shares a guide to the many herbs and ingredients used in TCM and tasty, nourishing recipes like steamed whole fish with herbal soy sauce, jujube date tea, and a pork bone broth—ones I hope to make more frequently as I continue to familiarize myself with the tenets of TCM. Though The Five Elements Cookbook isn’t the first book to delve into TCM, it’s the first book I’ve come across that has really helped me understand the concepts behind a philosophy I heard so much about growing up. Gong’s book is a contemporary approach to TCM that’s not only accessible but also creative and delicious.

The Five Elements Cookbook

Lune by Kate Reid

If you’ve ever wanted to master pastries like croissants, danishes, or kouign-amann, look no further. Lune, named after Kate Reid’s pair of “croissanteries” in Australia, is a stunning book dedicated entirely to crisp, flaky laminated dough. In a former life, Reid was an aerospace engineer who worked for Formula 1, and her methodical approach and precision are apparent in her pastry work. 

Though her croissant recipe in the book does not rely on the traditional French technique used to make croissants, it is a method specifically designed to work for home cooks. She incorporates clarified butter—pure butterfat that’s made by simmering butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids have separated—to up the fat content in her croissants without all the extra water. She also uses poolish (a high hydration preferment) to increase the extensibility of the dough, making it easier to roll out. Successfully making her croissants from start to finish will still require immense patience and attention to detail, however Reid’s clever maneuvers will help you make an exquisitely layered croissant and more.

Lune: Eating Croissants All Day, Every Day

Kung Pao & Beyond by Susan Jung

Susan Jung loves fried chicken—so much so that she’s written an entire book on it. When she was the food and wine editor at Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, she noticed how fried chicken recipes constantly received the most clicks, and after chatting with friends and fellow editors, she realized there was potential for a book exploring the wide world of fried poultry.

Packed with recipes and techniques from across East and Southeast Asia, Kung Pao & Beyond showcases the many ways to fry wings, thighs, breasts, and even whole birds. Chicken poppers coated in instant noodles, Vietnamese honey-mustard garlic wings, and the mala nuggets are just a few of my favorites. Not that any of us needed an excuse to eat fried chicken, but Jung’s book gives us plenty of reasons to set up that pot of fryer oil—even on a weeknight.

Editor’s note: Anna Hezel is an employee of Bon Appétit’s sister site, Epicurious. Alison Roman is a former Bon Appétit employee.

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