Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."

-- Anthony Bourdain, via Twitter, on Paula Deen's announcement that she has diabetes, which just happens to coincide with a sponsorship by diabetes drug-maker Novo Nordis

Deen knew three years ago that she was a diabetic and yet she held off on telling anyone -- continuing to cook ridiculously terrible-for-you crap on television all the while -- until there was a way she could turn it into a cash cow (then promptly deep fry that cow in butter and eat it).

Pretty busy right now so I don't have time to really get into the back-story of Bourdain's ongoing, and perfectly understandable, loathe of Paula Deen -- but I can bring back what I had to say about it a few months ago.

"Quote of the Day" (Originally Published 8.20.11)

"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.


Ref said...

He may occasionally be a "surly prick" to someone who behaves badly, but the reason I watch him whenever I can is the palpable joy about travel, food, cooking, and life with which he usually carries himself. Don't give people the wrong idea.

alopecia said...

The estimable Jonathan Gold had a negative reaction to Paula Deen being named Grand Marshal of the 2011 Rose Parade—nowhere as negative as Bourdain's and without the gratuitous name-calling, but (for him) plenty nasty. He climbed down from his initial comments in a gentlemanly open letter.

I've seen roughly four minutes of Paula Deen and I could feel my arteries hardening just from watching. Given what she cooks, I'm kind of surprised the woman didn't drop dead years ago.

Luke Weiss said...

she is a douche, but her constant use of butter has nothing to do with her diabetes problem. Sure she is fat and loathesome, but it is the sugar that is the problem, not the fat. let's just get our science in line with our scorn, shall we?

Janean said...

Actually Luke, being fat greatly increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Also, most things you would add tons of butter to are foods that contain an abundance of carbs, the nutritional component that raises blood sugar. Someone with diabetes should not be eating lots of butter, because they are more susceptible to cholesterol and heart problems.

Luke Weiss said...

wrong. but whatever. first - I never said being fat had anything to do with anything. we agree that being fat is well correlated with diabetes incidence. However, suggesting that butter is bad because it is a vehicle for bad carbs is specious.
and eating lots of butter has little or nothing to do with raised blood cholesterol and heart problems. that is bad science.