December 8th, 2010
07:00 PM ET
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As a native New Yorker, many of my fondest memories involve eating pizza. I recall my first bite - that joyous blend of aged mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and spices - more distinctly than I do my first kiss in the back seat of my sister’s boyfriend’s car. Whenever I’m asked to name the one thing that I could eat for rest of my life, my unhesitating answer is always pizza. For New Yorkers like me, the simple corner slice is iconic.

Growing up across the street from Brooklyn’s Pisa Restaurant in the early 1970’s, my friends and I found warm comfort in two doughy, oil-secreting slices and a fountain soda for what now seems like the impossible sum of $1 dollar. We considered the cook and pizza maker, Dominick (a short Italian guy who looked like Lou Costello) and Sammy (who could have easily passed for Donnie Brasco with glasses), our distant cousins.

But then something went horribly wrong. It’s hard to pin a day or a moment in time but suddenly getting a slice of pizza became a dizzying endeavor. Simple pepperoni or sausage suddenly became passé; you could suddenly get every imaginable topping. And forget about the cost - all of a sudden, a single slice at many shops was approaching $3. Even the highly regarded mom and pop operation Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, voted as the best slice of pizza by various publications, was charging $5!

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Dishes • News • Pizza • Small Business

5@5 - LeNell Smothers
December 8th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

We all remember that first sip. It was probably Chardonnay and probably from your mother’s glass, and you probably gagged on the fermented wine and clamored back toward your juice box. “It’s an acquired taste," said mommy dearest.

Well we hate to say it, but our parents were right - and we’ve acquired that taste quite well, thankyouverymuch.

It should come to no surprise that your sense of taste changes as you get older. (Yup, we're looking at you neon hair scrunchies.) And for LeNell Smothers, what better time to reflect on such changes as your fortieth birthday?

LeNell Smothers is a bona fide cocktail icon. She owned the liquor store, appropriately called LeNell’s, in Brooklyn, New York for over five years where it was recognized by GQ magazine as one of the "Best 50 Stores in America," by Whisky magazine as "US Retailer of the Year" and by New York magazine as "Best Liquor Store.”

Unfortunately, she had to close shop in February 2009 after a landlord-lease kerfuffle. From there, she did what any tequila-toting girl should do: pack her bags and head to La Paz, Mexico - where she now runs the libation refuge, Casa Cóctel, with her fiancé, Demián Camacho Santa Ana.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. They are a-coming.

Five Things I Love at 40 That I Hated at 14: LeNell Smothers

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Filed under: 5@5 • Sip • Spirits • Think

A very crabby Gulf Coast Christmas at the White House
December 8th, 2010
04:15 PM ET
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The White House is putting its menu where its mouth is.

President Obama and administration officials have said numerous times since the BP oil spill that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe and good to eat.

Now, White House chef Cris Comerford says on the executive mansion's blog that she's ordered 2,000 pounds of Gulf shrimp and crab to serve during the holiday season.

Read White House eating, serving, promoting Gulf seafood

See all Gulf Coast seafood coverage on Eatocracy and full coverage throughout CNN

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Filed under: News • Oil Spill • White House

Famous Baltimore crab house to shut its doors
December 8th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
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Next year, Baltimore will lose an institution.

The owners of one of the city’s most famous crab houses have announced that next season will be the last at their downtown location. According to their website, Obrycki’s has been doling out steamed crab goodness since 1944 when Melvin Alexander and his brothers-in-law, Mitch, Joe, and Eddie Obrycki, expanded their bar at 1729 East Pratt Street in the Baltimore neighborhood of Fells Point into a restaurant. Soon, Obrycki’s became one of the premiere locations to grab a mallet, throw on a paper bib and dig into a mound of Maryland blue crabs.

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Filed under: America • Baltimore • Bite • Travel

Lunchtime poll – hungry at the holidays
December 8th, 2010
01:15 PM ET
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Here are some chilling statistics. According to a recent USDA report entitled Household Food Security in the United States:

- Food insecurity exists in 17.4 million households in America, 4.2 million of them with children.

- A lack of resources prompted one or more members of these households to eat much less or otherwise adjust their eating patterns.

- Food insecurity rates remain the highest they have been since the federal government began keeping track 15 years ago.

Getting food on the table is an increasingly prevalent struggle for people across the United States, and it's often thrown into sharp focus around the holidays.

While television commercial tout excess and abundance (Are people really, truly gifting each other luxury cars at Christmas? Follow-up question - what are they leaving out for Santa? Kilos of saffron, sides of Kobe and foie gras lobes?), food banks report dwindling supplies, the government is proposing the lowest pay raise for the military in almost 50 years and experts say some eliminated positions may be gone for good.

This holiday season, is the downturn taking a toll on you?

Please share your stories below and we may feature them in our upcoming coverage of hunger at the holidays.

Read more on Where the jobs are and need help finding food? Larry King can help

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Filed under: Buzz • Lunchtime Poll

Every thing you ever wanted to know about noggin the nog
December 8th, 2010
12:45 PM ET
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(Mental Floss) - There's a good chance you'll either drink too much eggnog this holiday season or spend time around someone who has. Here's a look at the background of this December staple.

Eggnog can trace its roots back as far as the 14th century, when medieval Englishmen enjoyed a hot cocktail known as posset. Posset didn't contain eggs - the Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or the like, often sweeten ed and spiced' - but over the years eggs joined in on the festive fun.

While the egg-laden version of posset was popular with the English, it became less common as time went by. Milk and eggs were both scarce and expensive, and the sherry and Madeira used to spike the mixture was pricey, too. Over time, the concoction became a drink that only aristocrats could really afford.

All of that changed in the American colonies, though. What we lacked in parliamentary representation we made up for in easy access to dairy products and liquor. Since many Americans had their own chickens and dairy cattle, tossing together a glass of eggnog was no problem, and the drink's popularity soared among the colonists even as it sagged back home.

Read the rest of "Eggnog: Everything you need to know" on CNN Living

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Filed under: Bite • Christmas • History • Holidays • Sip

Box lunch
December 8th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
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Sink your teeth into today's top stories from around the globe.

  • The White House gets a gingerbread makeover - complete with Bo, the marzipan dog. - Luxist

  • By 2014, KFC plans to double its number of restaurants in Africa. - Gawker

  • Ruth Bourdain gets his/her Florence Fabricant on with etiquette do's and don'ts. - CHOW

  • Putting the toke in toque: Ten Spreed Press is releasing a cookbook entitled, "Baked!: 35 Marijuana Munchies to Make and Bake." - The Atlantic

  • Mexican chocolate-ancho popsicles. Gingerbread, who? - Hungry Texan

  • Screw the two front teeth, all we want for Christmas is an immersion blender. Food industry folks share their "Dear Santa" lists. - Amateur Gourmet
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Filed under: Box Lunch • News

It's not the holidays without...
December 8th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
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Is it all about the Belsnickel or are you feverishly awaiting Pfeffernusse? In some families, it's just not the holidays without a particular food tradition. It may be a cookie your Aunt Sadie has always made, or perhaps a big pancake breakfast after the presents have been torn through.

We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.

Pass the Lebkuchen and and get clicking!

See the assignment on iReport

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Filed under: Buzz • Holidays • iReport • It's not the holidays without

Coffee klatsch
December 8th, 2010
09:05 AM ET
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(This seemed to go well yesterday, so we're trying it again!)

Pssst! Got a sec to chat?

We are utterly thrilled when readers want to hang out and talk - whether it's amongst themselves or in response to pieces we've posted. We want Eatocracy to be a cozy, spirited online home for those who find their way here.

We also pay a lot of attention to what our regulars and new visitors have to say, and thought we'd try a little experiment. For the next few days, we'll run a new "Coffee klatsch" post, and designate that as the primary comments thread for readers who'd like to chat about topics not related to the articles we're running. That way, everyone knows where to find each other, and each post's comments section remains on topic.

Let us know what you think, and if works for you, we'll make it a daily deal - with occasional surprises for our regulars.

Now where's that Americano we ordered?...

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Filed under: Buzz • Coffee Klatsch

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