I don’t even know where to begin with this:
Paula Deen — the queen of high-calorie, Southern cooking — is about to come clean and confess that she can’t eat her own dishes anymore because she has diabetes.
The Georgia-born chef — a Food Network star who has written five best-selling cookbooks — has been trying to keep her condition a secret, even after the National Enquirer reported in April that she has Type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with fatty foods and obesity.
Sources say Deen, 64, who never addressed the diabetes question, has worked out a multimillion-dollar deal to be the spokeswoman for a pharmaceutical company and endorse the drug she is taking.
Novartis, the drug company she is said to be working for, declined to respond to Flash’s questions, as did Deen’s agent and Deen herself.
“Paula Deen is going to have to reposition herself now that she has diabetes,” said one source. “She’s going to have to start cooking healthier recipes. She can’t keep pushing mac and cheese and deep-fried Twinkies when she is hawking a diabetes drug.”
Let me explain something, clearly. I don’t like Paula Deen. Not because of the fact that she will, easily, use two sticks of butter in a pie and think nothing of it. In fact, I’d be a hypocrite if I felt that way. There is, at least, one recipe on this site that calls for an entire stick of butter (even though it serves eight.) I like my butter. If it weren’t for my real problem with Deen, she’d be my sister in the stick. (Pause?)
No, my real problem with Paula is the fact that her excuse for cooking – and eating – the way she does, when called to the carpet on it by Anthony Bourdain (who I have, um, strong feelings for), was “Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for a 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… It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to feed my family, too.”
So her excuse for her gratuitous use of butter and sugar and baking and every available method of delivering as many calories as possible… is frugality? What?
Listen. Because I love butter, I can tell you up front – using that much of it in one recipe? It’s gonna cost you, especially if you’re talking about quality butter… but really, that’s not the problem, here.
The problem is that she tries to write off any complants about the fat and sugar content of her food as sheer elitism. It wasn’t legitimate concern for the fact that she’s never seen a pound of sugar she didn’t like. It was “well not everybody can eat $58 prime rib like you, Anthony Bourdain!” It was a hyper-aggressive, “I eat this stuff because I can’t eat like you,” which is a battle cry I hear far more often from people who eat poorly at home because they don’t have time to cook, not because they have time to cook but just don’t have the money.
Pairing it up with “y’know, I was poor once” only makes it that much more insulting, to me. Paula Deen has “written” at least 13 books thus far. She has done several TV shows, TV specials, speaking engagements and more. She signs checks for more than many people make in a year. You might’ve been poor once, but you aren’t poor anymore, Paula. It was a pathetic attempt to use classism and manufactured elitism as an excuse for why she pushes the food she does.
That’s what’s so peculiar about a TV chef saying “not everyone can afford a $58 prime rib.” Who’s charging $58 for a prime rib? Hell, who is talking about a prime rib? Who is saying “a step down” from Deen’s cooking must automatically be a $58 prime rib? You cook on TV for a living. Your fans are people who, ostensibly, have time to cook. You mean to tell me that neither you nor your fans desire to take on the challenge of cooking a tad bit healthier and still making it delicious? In a country where two thirds of us are overweight?
Someone that we deem to be knowledgeable about food, then taking it upon themselves to imply that the alternative to her cooking is only a $58 meal is disgusting. People – like me – who write all damn day about how we can eat much better, and for less, have our efforts thwarted when someone like Paula Deen says “my cooking is for people who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.” Get the entire hell out of here. She wrote a freaking book, for kids, telling them to “eat cheesecake for breakfast, chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch…and french fries.” People who “worry about feeding their kids” don’t eat all that for breakfast and lunch, and they certainly don’t have the time to cook it. Not even on a Saturday.
I don’t think it’s anyone’s responsibility, so to speak, to teach you how to cook healthier and, therefore, don’t think it is Deen’s responsibility to educate anyone on how often to cook her dishes. I also don’t, necessarily, think she has an obligation to tell the world about her personal ailments. I do, however, think it is incredibly problematic when you say “we eat this way because we don’t have money,” but then you wind up with type 2 diabetes… and the only time you stand up to admit it is when you stand to gain another slew of money from promoting a diabetes “management” product?
You’ve got to be kidding me. If you think Paula just got diabetes, I’ve got a oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you. And if you think she would’ve admit it if the Novartis money wasn’t involved… I’ve got a bridge out in Brooklyn to sell you, too. Cash only.
I don’t care that Paula doesn’t look or cook like Giada, who I adore, or Laura Calder – who is my friend in my head. I actually think Paula is, probably, syrupy sweet. But either you’re someone we should look to for lifestyle advice, or you’re not. We should “practice” moderation, as you say, and when our “moderation” gets us diabetes like you, we should buy the products you’re hawking? Okay. Pair this with the timing of her son’s new TV show, “Not My Mama’s Cooking,” and… I just… there’s a major credibility issue here, to me – it says that you’ll manipulate anything just to make money. You’re a brand, I get it, but I tend to take food seriously.
Paula is, reportedly, talking about this tomorrow on the Today show. (Update: Video and summary viewable here.)This news was floated Friday afternoon and, as far as I’ve seen, we haven’t heard a word from Paula yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire thing was squashed tomorrow as being “untrue,” because companies are notorious for floating things out to the media as a way of testing to see how the public will respond to it, and then reneging on it. (Verizon’s $2 online bill pay charge, anyone? Bank of America’s $5/mo debit card fee?) If she admits it, I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing her explanation.
But in the meantime, I’ll go back to hoping for the best for her, while proving that “eating healthier” doesn’t mean “$58 prime rib.” Yuck.
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