Paula Deen. When she gets on TV with that big smile even bigger hair, her hearty laugh and even heartier eyelashes, her Southern twang and her creamy foods, I swoon a little. I love her humility She doesn’t seem like the a bazillionaire when she’s telling you how to make cheesy grits with about four times as much cheese as grits. I love her family: she’s like a teenager in love when her husband comes on the show. I love her boys: when I think of the two boys I’m now raising myself, I often think, if I could just do as good of a job as Paula Deen did, then I’ll be happy.
But right now, Paula’s making a lot of people angry. Here’s my take on what I’ve read so far:
Anthony Bourdain slammed Paula Deen by tweeting “I’m thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so I can sell crutches later. Really Bourdain? He’s not the only one to criticize Paula for making America less healthy. Do the people making these arguments really think that Americans would be slimmer if Paula didn’t have a TV show? That Paula Deen’s recipes, and not a history of fattening food and fast-food restaurants are causing the obesity epidemic?
In an unbelievable opinion article on Fox News entitled “Gods, Guns, and Grease” (I couldn’t make that up if I tried) that could have been written in 1865 when the carbetbaggers were arriving in the wartorn South, James Richardson argues that the Paula backlash is Northern prejudice and elitism, and tells Yankees that they don’t understand good Southern family values and cooking on a budget–that’s my favorite part, as if cooking with more butter is somehow cheaper.
In her add for her new drug company, Paula says that she wasn’t about to change her life with her diagnosis, but she is “cutting back on one of my favorite things: sweet tea” which “for a Southern girl [is a] big deal.”
I’m sorry, Paula. I still love you, but that’s total crap. People look up to you. Don’t feed them this b.s. that they can drink less sweet tea and live the easy life with diabetes. That’s playing right into the American ideal that we can do whatever we want with our lives and a bunch of little pills (or injections in this case) are going to save us. Obviously, that’s what the company you are sponsoring is counting on. But being healthy takes hard work. You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, Paula. I know you are no stranger to hard work, and that’s why I find this disappointing.
The only article I thought was reasonable, actually, was from food blogger Marion Nestle who had this to say:
According to the Times’ account, Mrs. Dean says that it is elitist to criticize her food:
You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills. Really? Does Mrs. Deen think those families can afford to pay the $500 a month drug companies charge for Victoza?
In her big coming out on the Today Show, Paula was asked about her diet and the fattening foods she teaches people how to cook. She had the nerve to say “I’ve always encouraged moderation. … I tell people in moderation, in moderation.” I’ve seen your shows, Paula, and that is a lie. Lying, as I tell my three-year-old, makes me sad.
Here’s what I’d like you to say: Yes, I’ve overindulged. It was fun while it lasted. I hope people can learn from my experience. Make my recipes at the occasional family gathering or party. But we all need to change the way we eat. And then do what you do best, Paula: show us how to do that.
Would it kill you to say that, Paula? Because here’s my concern: It might kill a lot of more people if you don’t.
Be a spokesperson for drugs. Be a spokesperson for doughnuts and butter. But don’t be a spokesperson for denial.
So, reader, what do you think? Do you agree with any of the articles?