Saturday, August 20, 2011
Quote of the Day
"She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations, and she’s proud of the fact that her food is fucking bad for you. I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it is OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks."
-- Anthony Bourdain
I'm actually a couple of days late to the table, so to speak, on this one, as Bourdain's typically astringent comments have quickly earned him a pretty nice little public feud with Paula Deen.
It should surprise no one to learn that I'm a huge fan of Bourdain: He's a surly, unapologetic prick who doesn't care one bit what anybody thinks of him, going so far as to regularly pick fights with those he dislikes; he revels in his lengthy history of bad habits and in his connection to the seedy cultural underbelly where he believes the true individuals among us can still be found; and he's a spectacular writer, chronicling his adventures and misadventures with a kind of balls-out gonzo flair that would've made Hunter Thompson proud. The guy's got one of the best lives imaginable, and he knows it -- and yet he still finds things to bitch about, because that's just who he is. So when someone like Tony Bourdain figuratively backhands a Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri or Paula Deen, you know whose side I'm gonna come down on.
For her part, Deen's response has been pretty much by-the-numbers. She says, with a predictable lack of willingness to offend, that Bourdain needs to "get a life." Ouch. But while a toothlessly genteel bon mot from Deen's Southern Belle persona is par for the course, her defense of the kind of cooking she does is a little disingenuous. "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... It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to feed my family, too," she argues.
I've said before that what a person eats is his or her own business, but Paula Deen's working class martyr spiel is a bunch of opportunistic nonsense. First of all, everyone knows by now that it's possible to cook on a budget without running an IV drip of some liquified butter-and-Crisco concoction into your family's veins, thereby keeping the Wal-Mart "Fat-Eze" scooter industry in business well into the next couple of generations. The stuff Deen makes tastes fantastic; it's also horrible as shit for you. Case closed. And if you've ever been to The Lady and Sons, Deen's restaurant in Savannah, you know that she overcharges for all that supposedly humble fare anyway. Paula and her two kids have turned their unpretentious "aw shucks" image into a massive money-generating enterprise. There's nothing particularly wrong with this, of course -- until you start believing your own hype and playing the righteous indignation card by holding yourself up as some kind of hero to the common people.
Bourdain's already backed off a little, saying on Twitter that while he still thinks she's a "destructive influence" on the Food Network -- a spot on the dial that's a regular target of his, by the way -- Deen is still a "nice lady."
Rachael Ray, though? Yeah, she still has no redeeming qualities.