I apologize in advance if I am going to offend anyone, but I am just a little pissed off about poor Paula Deen and all the flack she’s getting for taking money from a pharmaceutical company to peddle a diabetes drug.
Her critics, including Anthony Bordain, are giving her all kinds of grief for promoting fattening food for all of her career and then making money off the fact that she got sick, partially, from being overweight. I watched the interview Al Roker did with her on the Today Show. In the trade, you would call that a softball interview. It almost looked like he was afraid of her. And truth be told, she didn’t come off very well either. She insisted that away from the camera, she eats in moderation. No, Paula, if you are fat you are not eating in moderation. And, in fact, Paula Deen has referred to herself as fat many times. If you’re going to be fat, own it. She also looked defensive and guarded, not like the Paula Deen I’ve come to know and love.
She also said that she’d learned of the diagnosis three years ago. She didn’t explain why she didn’t reveal it until she had a drug deal. That sounds bad. A pharmaceutical contract. But you know what? People are allowed to make money in this country. If Corbett Canyon called tomorrow and offered me a gazillion dollars to shill for their Sauvignon Blanc, I’d be on the next train to Napa Valley.
What has gone largely unsaid in all of this is that what Paula Deen has been doing for the last ten years is not new. Southern people have always eaten fattening food. We just used to have a better way of working it off. Paula Deen did not invent fried chicken or sweet potato casserole or pecan pie. She might have eaten too much of it, but she didn’t invent it. In the South, we love our collards stewed with ham hocks for hours, our green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup, our squash casserole gooey with melted cheese, and our cocoanut cake, heavy on the cocoanut.
If you think anything with a pound of butter or a cup of heavy cream in it is a crime, then don’t make it. I make fattening things all the time. I just don’t eat a bucket of it. Tonight, I’m making hot chicken salad. It has a ton of mayonnaise and shredded cheese in it and it’s topped with crushed potato chips. So sue me.
I’m using Paula Deen’s recipe. If you want to know what a real crime is, it’s Paula Deen’s magazine, which I subscribed to for exactly one year. If I had to venture where Paula’s gone wrong, it’s in endorsing way too many suspect products and splashing them all over a poorly produced magazine.
But let’s all remember this. There is a 90 percent chance that any Southern cook and maybe cooks everywhere have at least one Paula Deen cookbook. It is also highly likely that they have at least three Paula Deen recipes they make over and over again. Like the hot chicken salad. It’s damned delicious. So let’s give poor old Paula a break. Let’s remember how many years she’s been entertaining us on TV. Let’s not get our panties in a wad over her selling a few drugs. And don’t leave off the potato chips on the hot chicken salad. Don’t make me come after you.