|Did y’all hear? Soon I’ll sell the pills with my cookbooks- no need to change a thing.
Paula Deen, the queen of fried everything, has diabetes and a lot of people are fired up about it. Janet Helm, on her Nutrition Unplugged site, wrote that the size of Paula’s following comes with a certain responsibility. Initially I disagreed. Though Paula takes unhealthy to new heights, that’s her shtick. I don’t necessarily feel chefs have a responsibility to cook the way I do. And whether it’s Paula Deen, Mario Batali or Ina Garten (who loves olive oil as much as Paula loves butter) I often adapt recipes keeping the flavor profile and cutting the calories. I don’t think Paula is any more responsible than the cupcake shop on my corner for my health.
I wouldn’t wish diabetes on anyone but, if anything, this reminds me of the 80’s Partnership for a Drug Free America commercial with the fried egg (this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs). If Paula was previously this smiley sugary chef now she’s the “this is what happens when you cook (and eat) like this.” The Paula Deen diabetes headlines will do more for people rethinking her cuisine then any adapted recipe ever could.
Many feel Paula has withheld this news. She has had diabetes for three years but hasn’t shared it publicly. On Today she told Al Roker “I wanted to wait until she had something to bring to the table.” What she meant is, she wanted to wait until she could announce her relationship with Novo Nordisk (her diabetes drug). Oh yes, there’s a website too “diabetes in a new light” but let’s be clear the lifestyle filler is on the drug company’s site and they are paying her as their spokesperson. When asked about her style of cooking Paula downplayed the food connection and said it’s “part of the puzzle” and then talked up genetics and stress as cofactors. This could’ve been spun so well. Paula could’ve said, “I cooked like this for years and now I’m making some changes.” Instead, it’s I’ve cooked like this and now I’m taking a drug. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make my favorite Bobby’s Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime (using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise) ever again.
What do you think of the Paula Deen news? Have you ever made her recipes? Isn’t a chef working for drug company like a distillery teaming up with a liver transplant unit?