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Paula Deen takes care of Bourdain, NYT in 2011 December 31, 2011

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized, US Politics.

Frank Bruni does an admirable job for The New York Times. Paula Deen does admirable work in the way of perpetuating traditional Southern Cooking. This is a disagreeable subject to Anthony Bourdain, menace to the decent, and The New York Times, elitest meddlers.

Here’s an excerpt for an August 24, 2011, report from Bruni on Bourdain’s rant (bold is mine):

“Anthony Bourdain, the part-time chef and full-time celebrity, has a tongue on him. It’s the sharpest knife in his set. He has used it to carve up vegans, whom he called the “Hezbollah-like splinter faction” of vegetarians, and the culinary moralist Alice Waters, whose rigidity is “very Khmer Rouge.”

The latest to be slashed: Paula Deen. For the uninitiated, she’s the deep-fried doyenne of a fatty, buttery subgenre of putatively Southern cooking. And Bourdain, in an interviewwith TV Guide published last week, branded her an outright menace to America, scolding her for “telling an already obese nation that it’s O.K. to eat food that is killing us.”

To this he added a gratuitous schoolyard-crass putdown of Deen cuisine.

Which certainly isn’t my cup of lard. But it bothers me no more than his ill-timed elitism, which Deen nailed in her response.

“Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine,” she told The New York Post. “My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

Put aside her one-with-the-masses pose, ludicrous in light of the millions she has made from television shows, cookbooks, cookware, mattresses and more. She’s otherwise 100 percent justified in assailing the culinary aristocracy, to which even a self-styled bad boy like Bourdain belongs, for an often selective, judgmental and unforgiving worldview.

And her retort exposes class tensions in the food world that sadly mirror those in society at large. You can almost imagine Bourdain and Deen as political candidates, a blue-state paternalist squaring off against a red-state populist over correct living versus liberty in all its artery-clogging, self-destructive glory.”

For added kick, he wrote: “When Deen fries a chicken, many of us balk. When the Manhattan chefs David Chang or Andrew Carmellini do, we grovel for reservations and swoon over the homey exhilaration of it all. Her strips of bacon, skirting pancakes, represent heedless gluttony. Chang’s dominoes of pork belly, swaddled in an Asian bun, signify high art.”

Fast forward to December 28, 2011, when Bruni’s own NYT took on Deen (as reported by Todd Starnes, Fox News):

“The New York Times has declared down home Southern cooking undignified in a story heaping praise on a new generation of Southern chefs while denigrating fried chicken, Cracker Barrel restaurants and renowned Georgia chef Paula Deen.

The food snobs at the Times attacked Miss Paula in the second sentence of their lengthy diatribe – calling her a “so-called queen of Southern food, who cooks with canned fruit and Crisco.”

The Times bemoaned the “hayseed image” of Southern cooking while praising “a new generation of chefs who have pushed Southern cooking into the vanguard of world cuisine.”

Starnes continued with autobiographical flavor:

“For the record, I happen to have a Cracker Barrel rocking chair in my office at the Fox News Corner of the World – along with several copies of Paula Deen’s cookbooks. That being said – I’m really not quite sure why The New York Times felt compelled to launch a broadside against the traditional cuisine of the Southern states.

I’ll take a Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf sandwich and a slice of their Double Chocolate Fudge Coca Cola Cake any day of the week — over the slop they serve at those five-star New York City restaurants.

Does The Old Gray Lady really want to pick a food fight with Alabama or Mississippi? There’s a reason why the Magnolia State is the plumpest in the nation — it’s called banana pudding.

In New York City, they eat boiled animal tongues. In the South we use our tongues for licking our fingers.

Southerners eat buttermilk biscuits and sip frosty glasses of sweet tea. New Yorkers nosh bagels and drink seltzer water.

New Yorkers eat fermented soy and tuna tartar – while folks in Tennessee eat fried catfish – with tarter sauce.

As an expatriated Southerner living in Brooklyn, I’ve come to realize that this quest to redefine Southern cuisine has taken root in the Big Apple. Chefs who couldn’t succeed in Dixie have moved north to ply their trade. It’s a movement called, “New Southern Cuisine.”

To be fair, I decided to visit one of those so-called “New Southern Cuisine” restaurants the other day. To their credit, they served sweet tea. But that’s about the only southern thing in the building.

The first item on the menu was “Black-eyed Pea Hummus.”

I threw up a little inside my mouth.

The waiter brought my iced tea and suggested I try something they called “Arugula Smear.”

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat it or wipe it.

I paid for my sweet tea, went home and whipped up a batch of Miss Paula’s macaroni and cheese. And as I sat down at my table, I prayed this prayer:

“Dear Jesus, thank you for butter. Amen.”

Class warfare is not only for the political arena. It has now jumped into the culinary arena!

The irony, of course, is that Ms. Deen’s book, The Southern Cooking Bible, spent two weeks in December 2011 atop its very own best seller list! Revenge can be delicious, can’t it, Paula?



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