5@5 - Robert Irvine
December 22nd, 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.

For amateur cooks, stepping inside the kitchen can result in an eclectic menu of anxiety, food in need of some serious salt, or potentially, a lesson in fire safety.

To all those home cooks seeking redemption in 2011, Chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s "Worst Cook in America" and "Restaurant Impossible," is here to help the cause.

With just a handful of easy rules and techniques, Chef Irvine believes that even the most culinarily challenged can become more kitchen saavy in the New Year.

Now, go forth and show that risotto who's boss. (Hint: it's you.)

Five Things You Must Master to Become an Expert Cook in 2011: Robert Irvine

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Holidays • New Year's • Think

Ronald is grinchy about Japan's Kentucky-fried Christmas
December 22nd, 2010
04:00 PM ET
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Christmas in Tokyo yields a special kind of wonder, an unofficial holiday spreading commercial good cheer. Open stores decked with decoration, romantic restaurants booked for Christmas-Eve date night (when reportedly condom vendors enjoy a robust sales spurt) and, of course ... holiday lines at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

A legend is born

KFC (or “kentakkii,” as it’s popularly known) launched its Japan-wide Christmas campaign in 1974 and since then has aggressively marketed its buckets as a holiday essential.

Today, as Public Radio International's Akiko Fujita has reported, "KFC commercials signal the start of the Christmas season in Japan."

According to the company, their holiday campaign was first conceived in 1971, at their Aoyama store. A homesick foreigner wandered in, bemoaned Japan’s lack of turkey, and chose fried chicken as the next-best alternative.

CNNGo has the FULL STORY - McDonald's vs. KFC for Japan's best 'festive feast'

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Filed under: Asia • Bite • Business and Farming News • Christmas • Fast Food • Holidays • HolidayShopping • News • Travel

Feeding the beast - part one
December 22nd, 2010
03:30 PM ET
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CNN photojournalist Jeremy Harlan is based in Washington D.C. This is his first in a two-part series on what to cook for a pregnant spouse. In this instance, beast is a loving term.

“I don’t wanna eat my steamed carrots. I want peppermint ice cream.”

“You can’t have any ice cream until you eat your carrots. They’re good for you.”

“But I don’t want them.”

I thought I’d be having this conversation four or five years down the road with our daughter. Instead, here I was last month arguing carrots vs. candy cane ice cream with my then-five months pregnant wife.

Could this be the same woman I married three years ago? I thought I had her figured out: sage and mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts, roasted sweet potato fries, steamed yellow squash and a colorful spinach salad. This was the dinner equation that won me rights to the remote control for the rest of the night.

But four months ago, it all came to a screeching halt with four simple words:

“I want a cheeseburger.”

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Filed under: Bite • Health News • News

Lunchtime poll – cookies for Claus
December 22nd, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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I got in trouble for telling my neighbor that Santa Claus doesn't exist. It wasn't this year, mind you - even I'm not that much of a humbug. It was the late 1970s, my parents had never made a declaration one way or the other, and I'd seen wrapped boxes in the closet.

Frankly, it had never occurred to me that anyone took the notion of a bearded, pipe-smoking stranger shimmying down their flue all that seriously, and I dug the thought that parents spent their time and money to give their kids a fun Christmas. Hence, I was shocked...SHOCKED when my friend Rob burst into tears, ran home and told on me to his Mom.

I was simultaneously mortified at having wounded my best friend and relieved that I'd never have to go through the sting of revelation. At no point did it occur to me to be cranky to have been denied the wide-eyed wonder of childish belief, but it probably explains why I spent a good chunk of my teenage years in combat boots, black lipstick and a dog collar.

And I am miffed to have missed the whole cookie part.

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