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Old 01-15-2012, 08:40 PM   #691
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her can-you-top-this!?! schtick has worn thin, and while we both thoroughly enjoyed our brunch at Lady and Sons a few years ago when visiting Savannah, she really is much more of a personality than a chef.

a delightful interview, though, as i've heard her talking quite charmingly on NPR about southern food and, perhaps ironically, about the wide variety of vegetables in the southern diet that are often overlooked. that and she still seems like the long-lost cast member of "Steel Magnolias." and she and her sort-of-hot sons are good TV.
god, i know. i remember whenever she deep fries anything, if it's sweet it gets topped with powdered sugar AND whipped cream...and a sprig of mint, "because you need a vegetable". uh. right. there's so much wrong with that statement - see, i know she's joking and that she means it as a joke, but 99% of her audience thinks "well golly i can eat a sprig of mint and it counts as a vegetable?! i don't have to eat those nasty turnip greens anymore!"

agreed. especially old paula deen, she reminded me of the grandma i wish i'd had, since though i lived in the south, none of my family was southern. once she realised it brought more ratings, she turned from the sweet old lady who taught you how to make apple pie from scratch (including the dough) to taking bite sized candy bars, wrapping them in pillsbury dough, and frying them. people rag on sandra lee for using packaged stuff, sometimes paula deen's recipes are just as bad. at least sandra's schtick is for people who are short on time and money (though those spice packets are more expensive than you'd think), paula passes off recipes with cans of soup in them as her "best dishes", with no mention of taking these shortcuts because she has two jobs or anything that would make sense.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:31 AM   #692
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i'm curious, yolland -- as a southerner, what do you think Paula gets wrong with her food?

as a northerner who has essentially married a southerner, what i find so interesting is how simple but delicious southern food is, and the amount of pride that women (usually) take in "their" dishes, in their grandmother's coconut cake, etc. it's a food culture that i don't think is as present in the north and reminds me much more of Europe where food is indispensable from any understanding of culture and heritage.
That's very true...it also tends to mean that Southerners are more opinionated about what food purporting to be Southern "should" taste like, make stronger emotional associations between "their" food and the kind of environment (social and physical) it symbolizes to them, and are correspondingly often more touchy about how that food is represented to others.

I probably have a hard time separating Deen's Top-this-y'all!! schtick (and my somewhat chagrined sense that it's become The Face of Southern cooking and eating) from the food itself, honestly. There are plenty of things I've seen her make that seemed very familiar, more or less like any other version of that dish I've eaten. It's the (increasingly) heavy dose of 1970s-churchladies'-potluck sensibility (sorry, don't know how else to characterize it!) plus the Top-this-y'all!! overkill (which I can recognize as a certain kind of camp, but I'm not sure her audience always does) that grate on me. It doesn't make a dish more "Southern" to add a half-pound of cream cheese and an extra stick of butter to it, or to make it with Krispy Kreme donuts instead of stale bread, or to add a heap of chopped bacon and/or sausage when it's already got ham hocks or fatback. It just makes it at best heavier, at worst overkill. It's something like the way southern Italian food used to be (badly) represented in the US by soggy, heavy meatball grinders with too much meat, too much sauce, too much cheese, too much everything--sure, it's supposed to be robustly flavored and hearty, but it's also supposed to have its own concept of thoughtfully established balance in flavor and texture, like all cuisines do.

I'm more "Southern-born-and-raised" then a "Southerner," necessarily--I've spent more than half my life in the Midwest now, and my parents weren't even American by background, let alone Southern, though they loved it there and felt deeply at home in the particular community we lived in (including the food). So my bias, and every "Southerner" has one I guess, would be that my own first associations are with Delta country food, soul food--lots of greens, beans, sweet potatoes, batter breads and dumplings, garden vegetables, braised and roasted and BBQ'd meats, deep-fried fish and chicken, gumbos (simpler than the NOLA varieties), a strong hand with the chiles (and admittedly the salt shaker too), pies and cobblers and more occasionally cakes. Not much dairy--relatively few dishes involved cheese, cream, sour cream or even butter, animal fats or shortening being preferred; not many casseroles either; potato salad, deviled eggs and catfish pâté (yes!) were about the only things I remember anyone putting mayonnaise in, other than the usual pan-American sandwiches. I never heard of cheese straws, pimiento cheese, Jell-O salads (other than the ubiquitous funeral reception tomato aspic), or anything involving canned cream of mushroom soup until long after I'd moved away and started perusing Southern cookbooks. That's not a criticism of those things...I love cooking from some of the books I have by Scott Peacock & Edna Lewis, Martha Hall Foose, Jean Anderson, James Villas, Norma Jean & Carole Darden, Ronni Lundy, Damon Lee Fowler, Joyce White, and the Lee Brothers...they're a very varied lot in terms of (sub)regional style and how contemporary they are, but I enjoy them all. Maybe if I hadn't known Paula Deen as an over-the-top TV personality first, I'd have a cookbook or two of hers as well, but as it is, I guess where others see homey and humble (descriptions that normally attract me in food) I too often see a totally unappealing lack of subtlety, and some perhaps otherwise recognizable tendencies pushed to offputting extremes.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:38 AM   #693
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this concept of food and meals in the south intrigues me. i come from a family that cooks and sits down together for food maybe ten times in the whole year.
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:21 PM   #694
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Paula Deen makes me want to fucking vomit.


Big Southern spreads at mealtime are the best though. I have fond memories of visiting relatives in Tennessee and buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, okra, and creamed corn.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:00 PM   #695
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neither Memphis nor i were remotely surprised by this, nor the fact that she's (possibly?) endorsing a drug. girlfriend will endorse anything.
Looks like you guys were right; the initial leak/rumor just had the company wrong.


MSNBC, Jan 17
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Queen of comfort cuisine Paula Deen confirmed to Al Roker Tuesday that she has type-2 diabetes. In her first broadcast interview discussing the disease, Deen said she intentionally kept the diagnosis secret after discovering she had it during a routine physical three years ago. “I came home, I told my children, I told my husband, I said, ‘I’m gonna keep this close to my chest for the time being’ because I had to figure out things in my own head,” she told Roker on TODAY.

...“I’m here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence,” said the Food Network star, who is now being paid as a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that supplies her diabetes medication. Coinciding with her announcement, Deen and her family are appearing in a new ad campaign for the company this month.

...Deen said her reputation wasn't the reason she kept the diagnosis under wraps. "I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward," she explained. When asked about whether she will make a change in how she cooks on her show, “Paula’s Best Dishes,” Deen didn't give a direct answer, instead encouraging viewers to practice moderation. “Here’s the thing, you know, I’ve always encouraged moderation,” she said. “On my show, you know, I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people 'in moderation...You can have that little piece of pie...' I have always eaten in moderation...You know, people see me on TV two or three times a day and they see me cooking all these wonderfully Southern, fattening dishes. That’s only 30 days out of 365," she said. "And it’s for entertainment. And people have to be responsible. Like I told Oprah a few years ago, honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself."

...Deen, who told TODAY.com last year that she couldn’t do without butter or a deep-fryer, was called out by fellow food personality Anthony Bourdain in a TV Guide article for being “the worst, most dangerous person to America," who "revels in her unholy connections with evil corporations" and is "proud of the fact that her food is f---ing bad for you." Deen responded, telling the New York Post, “Anthony Bourdain needs to get a life.” Positioning herself as relatable to the home cook, she added, "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." Bourdain, who says he was flooded by requests for quotes after news of Deen’s announcement leaked, shared his reaction with Eater.com. “When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got type 2 diabetes...it's in bad taste if nothing else.”

While Deen will continue cooking her fatty comfort meals on her show, her son Bobby has been promoting lower-calorie versions of his mom’s recipes (sans the butter and heavy cream), with his new Cooking Channel show, “Not My Mama’s Meals.”
Pffft, when has she ever made a point of emphasizing moderation on her shows? Not in any episodes I've seen.

Is there a legitimate ethical issue in the fact that she hid this diagnosis, while continuing to publically specialize in anything-but-"moderate," and now plans to be a spokesperson for diabetes medication while (I guess) effectively letting her son handle the "keeping it real" niche? Or is this nothing more than a fair lesson in caveat emptor for viewers and readers (she sells boatloads of cookbooks too) who were the only ones responsible all along for shaping their own sensibilities about cooking and eating?

Regardless, I wish her the best of luck managing her condition.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:21 PM   #696
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Sure diabetes isn't always a death sentence. It is in some cases a lifespan shortening sentence, I would say more often than not. And the direct complications can be a death sentence. But it complicates things daily, even the most benign things you wouldn't even think of. I just think that's irresponsible (not to mention making money off it), to say that is somehow her mission now. When clearly her mission was never to prevent type 2 diabetes. That moderation thing is a crock, revisionist history on her part. Hamburger with bacon and egg served on a glazed doughnut, does moderation even matter? Why even promote something like that at all, something that belongs at the heart attack grill?

HIV is no longer a death sentence, doesn't mean people should go around having unprotected sex.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:38 PM   #697
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This really says it all:

Paula Deen Confirms She Has Diabetes, Plus 25 Reasons Why We're Not Surprised

(I do admit a weakness for bacon now and again but almost everything pictured on that webpage made me want to hurl. Especially the meatloaf.)
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:53 PM   #698
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say what you will.

southern fried chicken and fried green tomatoes are awesome.

also, i looked and we have her original cookbook, the one that made her famous. we subsequently became famous for bringing her Gooey Butter Cakes to BBQ's across DC.

Amazon.com: Lady and Sons: Savannah Country Cookbook by Paula Deen, John Berendt (Introduction): Books

they are deadly, though. more than one in a day will give you a stroke.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:10 AM   #699
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Gooey Butter Cakes are the only Paula Deen recipe I've ever tried. Thankfully they are so sweet I can't eat more than one in one sitting, or I'd be on my way to Diabetes as well.

But man. Man, oh man, so delicious.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:11 AM   #700
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This really says it all:

Paula Deen Confirms She Has Diabetes, Plus 25 Reasons Why We're Not Surprised

(I do admit a weakness for bacon now and again but almost everything pictured on that webpage made me want to hurl. Especially the meatloaf.)
how ridiculous. i mean granted, she doesn't owe anyone anything to tell us she has diabetes, but to actually sit there and say she's always talked about moderation? uh, no. i've watched many of her shows and she very rarely, if ever says these butter, sugar, chocolate, and cheese-filled, deep-fried meals are a special occasion treat to be enjoyed once in a while. you can't build an empire on something you make very rarely. besides, when you add up her 20,000 heart attack-inducing recipes, yeah you'll really only have time to make each one once in a while anyway.

but of course your average person won't hold america's most beloved grandma dirty old lady to these standards. yet michelle obama is photographed eating a cheeseburger one time and she's a hypocrite.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:20 AM   #701
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Gooey butter cakes are one of her (semi-)traditional recipes actually...they're a St. Louis classic (though bakeries there traditionally make them with a coffee cake base, not yellow cake mix).
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Old 01-18-2012, 01:59 AM   #702
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this really says it all:

paula deen confirms she has diabetes, plus 25 reasons why we're not surprised

(i do admit a weakness for bacon now and again but almost everything pictured on that webpage made me want to hurl. Especially the meatloaf.)
boom
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:23 AM   #703
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just chatting with Memphis about this (we're both home sick today), and he's a little bit peeved about Paula being singled out for having diabetes. he says that if you go through his family's recipes and church cookbooks of people who grew up poor-ish in the South you'll find many of Paula's recipes fairly well represented. that this is how people *do* eat, though her top-this-y'all! campy persona is as much show business as anything else.

also, many other celebrity chefs are heavy -- Ina Garten, Emeril, Mario Batali -- but would we have the same reaction if one of them developed diabetes? further, Bourdain is an engaging writer and TV personality, but is the food he served up at Les Halles back in the day any less loaded with butter and oil than what Paula makes? is foie gras really that much better for you than fried green tomatoes?

is the schadenfreude involved with her diagnosis -- admittedly, setting aside her endorsement, or as Bourdain tweeted, "thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so i can sell crutches" -- a form of snobbery against southern accents and down-home-y'all attitude?
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:35 AM   #704
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I am also at home with the plague today.

I think to me the difference is that I often got the feeling that she was being unhealthy on purpose, just for the sake of it. That is not to knock southern food - I've traveled a lot through the US south (I be considerably more than many Americans here), I've been to Savannah a number of times and I actually really like southern fried chicken. Not a huge fan of the green fried tomatoes, but the 2 or 3 occasions on which I tried deep fried mac 'n cheese, thought it was pretty delicious.

The thing is, when you choose to make something like a Krispy Kreme burger, which I really believe there is no need for, or deep fry a bagel filled with potato chips or deep fry balls of butter and promote that sort of excess so that you become publicly known exactly for it, then there is a tendency for people to not be surprised by the outcome.

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Old 01-18-2012, 10:17 AM   #705
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oh i agree -- stuff like the Krispy Kreme burger is really showmanship more than anything, and reinforcing a brand. i suppose the question is how much responsibility she has for, 1) her own health problems (lots), and 2) whatever her audience chooses to eat. at least on my visit to Savannah, it seemed people were much more impressed with Paula's business sense than the food served at Lady and Sons. they all recommended here as a much better place:

Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room
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