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.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

We just got the Food Network over here on cable. My sister and I were just sitting with slack-jawed horror at the amount of fat and sugar and God knows what else Paula Deen puts in her 'food.' I keep waiting for the things she cooks to gain sentience and then immediately drop dead from heart failure

agrazingmoose said...

Don't know much about Dean, but Rachel Ray can't cook. Period.

ToCookAWolf said...

Maybe she wouldn't have struggled to feed her family if she didn't use so much god damned butter in everything. That stuff's expensive. Not to mention the fact that there's a vast gulf betweeen the shit that she sells and a $58 prime rib and $650 wine.

Anonymous said...

I watch and read A LOT of Bourdain and have been forced to watch A LOT of Paula Dean. Anthony has spent more time eating and hanging out with the world's poor and under privileged than Paula ever will (even with her humble beginnings). A major meme of Bourdain’s is to appreciate the simple and be knowledgeable about food. These are two key elements of eating well on a budget. Paula takes standard Southern and Midwestern comfort food and doubles the butter, sugar, and salt content.
Yeah, there is an a few times Anthony eats meals from chefs who charge $100's, but he has also traveled to countries and into neighborhoods to eat were “everyone else” eats that Paula and her sons would never dare enter even with a camera crew and security.

Mary said...

I love Bourdain, and never miss his show. There is, however, one thing that forever endeared Paula to me...I happened to catch her the first time she appeared on Oprah a few years ago...here is a clip..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zdCAjpjYOM

Mary

Thomas B said...

But Rachael Ray is pretty damn bangable in my opinion. I'd tap that.

Anonymous said...

paula dean can't cook either... unless you count a hamburger patty between two krispy kreem donuts.

oh wait...

Chris said...

I think this is all just a distraction on the real enemy: Bobby Flay.

That guy is a dick.

John Foley said...

Using Oprah to bolster your argument is, like, the exact opposite of compelling.

Bob Cesca said...

Everything on FN is a hackish paint-by-numbers study in cable network executive conformity. If you ever want to see how cable execs think, watch a single episode of Food Network Star. When Flay and the other two nitwits evaluate the game show contestants, it's torn right from a cable net notes meeting. It's self-contradictory, justify-our-salary nonsense. I once watched in horror as Flay & Co instructed a contestant to act more Mexican -- you know, because of her ethnicity. They might as well have forced her to wear a giant mustache, a poncho and a sombrero. It was painfully obvious that they were sculpting her to fill a programming void on the network: the stereotypical Mexican lady show. Trilled "R" sounds and everything. Whatever Bourdain has said about Food Network is dead fucking on -- but barely scratching the surface of how awful it really is.

Busayo said...

We just got the Food Network on cable over here, and I am horrified at how much fat and sugar and oil and butter and God knows what else Paula Deen puts in her food. I keep waiting for the things she cooks to gain sentience and then immediately drop dead from heart failure.

e said...

I always wondered if anyone else thought that way Bob. The first time I saw the Food Network Star, I was like... they're really just going to plainly display whats important in constructing a personality/show? It kind of confirms all the cynical thoughts one can have about television.

Mart said...

This reminded me to Google Paula Deen Ham Face just for the fun of it.

Luda said...

As much as I agree with Anthony Bourdain (and I do), I think it's gotta sting to be put down professional by one of the best.

If Hunter S. Thompson ripped apart my writing, it'd hurt a bit. So I feel for her.

ToCookAWolf said...

Lest we paint all of food network with the same brush, we should not forget that Alton Brown, when on Good Eats, is fucking brilliant. He's light on catch phrases, heavy on knowledge. His food is solid, and even Bourdain thinks he's too good for the network.

Steven D Skelton said...

I can't fathom the outrage over Food Network? Food Network?

What the fuck?

You don't like what they cook, that's cool..to each his own...but why the strong opinions one way or the other?

It's cooking....everybody chill the fuck out.