Stand By Your Heavily-Battered, Sugar-Dusted, Deep-Fried Spam If You Want To

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about taking a stand.

It’s been almost two years since I decided to take a stand about my diet, and unless some sort of empiric scientific evidence comes along proving to me that Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and Twinkies are more healthful options than pastured eggs and grass-fed beef liver, I don’t see that stand changing any time soon.  In these two years, I’ve managed to convince a few of my long-time readers that I may be on to something, and I’ve gained many, many more who understand and agree with what I write here.  My readers are pretty intelligent, astute people who care about their health, and that of their families.

So let’s see a show of hands – raise yours if you think Paula Deen’s recipes are even remotely healthful.

Anyone?  No?

I have to admit I’m a bit amused by everyone jumping all over poor old Paula when she announced that she had no plans to change the way she cooks, despite a diagnosis of Type II diabetes (we won’t even go into the uproar she caused by becoming a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company that manufactures her diabetes medication).  First of all, does anyone really think it’s just a coincidence that her thinner younger son was given his own show on which he makes “healthier” (read: low fat) versions of his Momma’s dishes, mere weeks before she went public with her diagnosis?

Anyone?  No?

Ms. Deen is famous for a reason – she’s got personality out the wazoo and she cooks food that people like to eat because it tastes really, really good.  Hell, even I’ll admit that and you couldn’t get me to touch a Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with a 10-foot pole even before I changed our diet.  Let’s face it – recipes for “oven-fried” boneless, skinless chicken breasts abound, both in cookbooks and on the internet, but there aren’t many people who will give you the recipe for a Gooey Butter Cake.

Paula Deen is a brand, and I don’t blame her for feeling she needs to protect that brand (and there’s the fact that if she took control of her diabetes with diet and exercise she’d probably lose her reportedly multi-million dollar partnership with Norvo Nordisk).  She knows which side her honkin’ big piece of white bread is liberally buttered on.  Paula Deen is about deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese and Mississippi Mud Cake, not flavorless crap constructed with a couple of lettuce leaves, fat free Velveeta and a dribble of salsa that’s supposed to pass for a Cheese Burrito (that’s for idiots like Lisa Lillien – whom, you might have guessed, I cannot STAND; I don’t think that woman cooks with anything that could be remotely construed as real food.  At least Paula Deen isn’t afraid of butter and red meat).  And if she can make money telling a desperate public what it so badly wants to hear – that you can keep eating processed flour and refined sugar deep-fried in industrial seed oils; all you have to do is take this pill or give yourself this little bitty injection – well, more power to her.

People let themselves be fooled.

As for Anthony Bourdain and his proclamation that Ms. Deen is the “most dangerous woman in America”…Mr. Bourdain, I admire your Libertarian sensibilities, am amused by your opinion of vegetarianism, and am in awe of your willingness to try any food at least once, but I REALLY think you need to drop the cigarettes and bottle of scotch before you go bitch-slapping poor old Paula.  People living in glass houses, and all that.

At least, that’s my opinion.  And I’m standing by it.

29 thoughts on “Stand By Your Heavily-Battered, Sugar-Dusted, Deep-Fried Spam If You Want To”

    1. According to Wikipedia (which I can’t link to today because they are taking a stand), he briefly gave up smoking in 2007 when his daughter was born, but started up again.

    2. And now that I think about it, rumor has it that Anthony Bourdain was told to either give up pork, or go on a statin. He supposedly said “Fuck that” and is taking statins.

      Again, folks who live in glass houses…

  1. I like and respect your stance. People need to take responsibility for their own actions! It is not Paula Deen’s responsibility to be my nutritionist (but it isn’t my Doctor’s either).

    But I can’t help being disappointed that she lost the opportunity to make a real difference. She claims to have delayed telling the world for three years because she didn’t know anything about diabetes and wanted to study it before she knew how to reply. Well, I suppose I MIGHT believe she studied it if her idea of studying it is to listen to her government, but to imagine she spent more than a few minutes (let alone 3 years) doing any sort of research is naive. She surely would have stumbled upon the MANY anecdotal stories, let alone good solid evidence, of diabetics managing their sugar levels through a proper diet. She has had plenty of time to try these things out on herself.

    She COULD have made a much bigger splash my doing what you do every day – make great tasting meals that are good for you. She COULD have saved thousands of lives. Is it her responsibility? Nope! Should she have researched this better? Damn straight Skippy! I respect and admire her and wish her all the best. The hardest part is going to be watching her kill herself slowly and continue to provide those disinclined to think for themselves a rationalization for continued bad eating practices. She and her son are now claiming that many of these foods are just occasional treats but I don’t think many of us believe it nor did I every hear her talk about the importance of moderation – ever.

    Just my stand!

    1. Gotta disagree with you on this one, dear. I’m kind of surprised that you think Paula Deen could make a difference making the kind of food I do – as you often point out, we are just a tiny minority; our diet is far too abundant in fat, particularly animal fat, for the mainstream. She’d still be vilified, and when she controlled her diabetes, no one would attribute it to her diet and you know it – it would be the exercise or some other mitigating factor, and the powers that be would warn us that even though her diabetes was under control, she’d be courting death via a heart attack or stroke.

      Then she’d risk losing her fan-base (and her revenue stream) of those very people unwilling to give up bread and sugary treats. She *thinks* she’s acting in her own best interest, and if money is more important than health, I guess she is.

  2. I have to disagree with Be on another point. She does talk about moderation. She has said in more than one show, “Now, y’all can’t go making this every night, or even every week. It’s special occasion food.” or something like that.

    Either way, she doesn’t say that her show is a daily meal show, like Rachel Rae does. Her show is more of a Julia Child, learn how to make one fancy thing kind of a show.

    I think the problem these days is that we expect someone (a tv star, a sports figure, a politician) to tell us how to live, down to the minute. Nobody can just promote one thing (a recipe, a good game, a stand on one issue) now we analyze their whole life and say they’re promoting their “lifestyle” whether or not they do. We know too much about people, and it isn’t helping us at all.

    1. EXCELLENT point – celebrities are just well-known people; the idea that theymust be some kind of “role model” for the rest of the world is simply absurd. Fame doesn’t automatically confer some sort of magic knowledge or ability to live your life in a manner that is a “good example” to the rest of the world. Celebrities are still human beings with faults and foibles, and are often sadly ill-equipped to deal with them.

  3. I’m agreeing with MB that we can’t expect celebrities to become the ultimate figure in lifestyle change. Yes, I’m a little horrified personally that she’s taken up with a pharma company, and can understand why she’s not retooling the recipes since her son has his own show doing just that, (Although if she knew about the Diabetes three years ago, before this new show was in production, she should have jumped on that bandwagon immediately.) but I refuse to villify her for her food or shows or anything she stands for considering she’s not standing over my table every night and feeding me the food. I did my own research, I made my own rules. I, as a semi-intelligent adult, have come to my own conclusion that eating her way on a daily basis would get me into a whole lot of trouble.
    So I think America needs to step down from the betrayed soapbox and stop blaming Paula Deen on the way they were eating before she ever came onto the scene.

    1. So I think America needs to step down from the betrayed soapbox and stop blaming Paula Deen on the way they were eating before she ever came onto the scene.

      THANK YOU. Really, you’d think Paula Deen had INVENTED the Standard American Diet. Noooo – she’s just responding to how most people already eat.

  4. The most surprising thing to me is that anyone is surprised by this “news.”
    It is beyond me why anyone cares about celebrities. Maybe it’s because I grew up surrounded by them – but who gives a shit? Celebritities are, by and large, the worst group of people to use as role models for ANYTHING. Don’t most people know that by now?

    1. The most surprising thing to me is that anyone is surprised by this “news.”

      Honestly, this was the first thing that crossed my mind as well.

  5. Jan, loved your stand (“am amused by your opinion of vegetarianism”) but the comments are sublime. BTW, Wikipedia really pissed me off this morning with their stand. I just want my info,!

    1. I actually liked it! They have a right to educate people about legislation that will effect them. I think by going dark it’s a clear message to people who might otherwise ignore the problem (read: students). And it’s their way of showing us what might happen if we choose to just let the government take control.

      1. I agree MamaBadger. All my sites are in the dark today participating in the strike. Michele, if you want your information, you ought to know that the SOPA/PIPA bills can take it away from you in a heartbeat! It’s either no info for a day, or no info for forever!

    2. Imagine how you will feel if there is no site… because someone declared that the content was breaking copyright… and it was taken down WITHOUT due process. Information should be free – that’s the whole point… and it shouldn’t matter what some music/movie exec think about it.

  6. Wait, I didn’t realize that she’d been diagnosed for years before it finally came out. I too am cynical re: the timing of this announcement right when her son has his new show, and she has a deal with a pharmaceutical company. She’s nothing if not a BUSINESS WOMAN. She IS a brand, and she IS smart. I’m thinking this studying she’s been doing is mostly figuring out how to spin this diabetes thing to her own advantage. I agree with Beloved, I think it would be an excellent opportunity for her to turn to the real food world – show that you can still cook with her beloved butter and red meat.

    Thanks for speaking out. (As if that is something you never do!)
    You’re linked!

    1. I’m thinking this studying she’s been doing is mostly figuring out how to spin this diabetes thing to her own advantage.

      Gretchen, I think you hit the nail smack-dab on the head, there.

  7. Bourdain has recently drifted slightly more into the libertarian sphere from what I’ve heard, after his experiences in Haiti. Given enough time, experience and innate intelligence everyone becomes one of us in the end, but I think he’s still a very reluctant libertarian.

    As for Paula Deen, using this as an excuse to promote a drug that, uhm, increases insulin secretion, well I’ve nothing good to say about that. To be fair, she probably believes in it and is taking it herself.

    1. I happen to agree. She is taking the drug (it would be kind of silly to have a spokesperson who wasn’t), and I do believe she believes whole-heartedly in it. Why shouldn’t she? We’ve been taught that a pill will cure all of our ills.

  8. I love this spin! So, so funny! Paula Deen is indeed a brand and definitely has personality. I’m with you, though. I won’t touch her recipes with a ten foot pole, not because they won’t taste delish, because I’m sure they are, but because they are so unhealthy. Mostly, I like seeing what she makes and watching in abject fascination at the amount of fat she adds to them. Kind of like not being able to look away from a train wreck… Great spin!

    1. Well, I think the refined flour, sugar, processed ingredients and vegetable oils that are so prevalent in her dishes have more to do with her diabetes than butter or heavy cream, but I agree – it IS sort of like watching a train wreck.

      A tasty, but deadly, train wreck.

  9. Loved your Spin. And I agree that Paula is a “brand”. Hubby and I go to Savannah fairly frequently and trying to get a seat in her restaurant is like trying to get through a maze. You have to go down to put your name on a list to go back and be told what time to come back to eat! I told hubby NO ONE is worth going through all that just to eat in their restaurant. Too much trouble and too many other places to eat!

    1. I’d heard that it was hard to get a seat in her restaurant. I agree with you – there are so many other places to eat; if I end up in Savannah, can you give recommendations? We LOVE taking “eating” tours of places. Do you ever get to Charleston? I’ve got a couple of places there I can recommend!! 😉

  10. Well said, Jan! I love your argument here as well as these great comments.

    I absolutely agree that expecting Paula Deen to use this opportunity to “make a difference” is not realistic. It’s not like she could start recommending fermented, grain-free, grass-fed foods, without being branded a complete nutter and maybe getting a little extra publicity for a minute before completely losing her fans.

    I fear that people who would have wanted her to use her diagnosis for good would expect her to do just what it sounds like her son is doing, “healthifying” her recipes, likely by replacing some of that butter with canola oil, and reducing the saturated fat content wherever possible. Which as we know, is just another version of the SAD, not a healthy diet either, and in may also lead to diabetes!

    So better she stays her wild hedonistic self, and people see both that she makes delicious but garbage-y food and lives the consequences every day with her diabetes medication.

    And you know, if someone served my Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, I’d probably try it. Once anyways. 🙂

  11. You know, I just feel like everyone has a very long story to their life, and from the outside we see part of one chapter. It doesn’t always make sense out of context. Do I hope that I’d change my diet if that’s what stood between me and a serious disease? Yes I do. Do I want to throw stones at her for keeping her life the same? No. I don’t know her. I don’t know why she makes the decisions she makes. I mean, it seems obvious to me where the diabetes came from. More butter! More sugar! But I’ve had days where I just felt like life was too short to eat this salad instead of this chicken alfredo. And plenty of days where I’ve thought it’s not worth the chicken alfredo to feel that way when I’m done eating, and have been thrilled with the way I feel from eating healthy. Maybe down the road Paula will feel like life is going to be too short if she doesn’t use half the butter. But let’s just leave her alone while she gets there.

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