So I can’t let it slide… I grew up in southwestern Kentucky. I’ve been contemplating Paula Deen’s new scandal since it broke. Oh Paula! My heart hurts for you and your whole family right now. I hope you’re finding some peace but I think things must be eating you up. It would be eating me up.
I have a long history of being a Paula Deen fan. When we moved back from Iceland I caught Paula Deen’s show one Saturday morning. I won’t forget it. In an old kitchen, she made banana peanut butter french toast. In my dreams it included either caramel sauce or bourbon sauce or some such nonsense. After living in Iceland for three and half years and moving to the land of Yankees, her show was a welcome refuge. I needed to hear about gooey cakes and sweet tea with sprigs of mint in her deep southern accent. It was thirty minutes of home. We lived outside of Baltimore, believe it or not a few miles south of Mason Dixon line. And yet, I remember feeling like people thought my IQ had dropped if heard a drawl in my words. I heard, “Where are you from?” more times than I care to admit and people wondered if I had somehow married my cousin. For thirty minutes every Saturday, I enjoyed the quiet and the sight of wooden spoons, hissing pots and ferns in the background.
I loved Paula Deen so much that I asked Ray for a pit stop at her restaurant on our way to see the mouse. It was the summer of 2005 and I even dressed the girls in pretty white dresses to eat there. Can you tell it was hot?
I have the apron that says, “Put Some South In Your Mouth” and I read Paula’s book. Her strawberry cake is one of my absolute favorites and I still make it regularly.
After reading her book, I realized that my Gran would have said that Paula Deen is no Lady. She has made some serious mistakes. The thing I like about Paula Deen is that she owns every one of them. In may she needed to be deposed based on a lawsuit. I haven’t read the transcripts but the only thing I heard was that in 1986 Paula was guilty of using a word that we aren’t supposed to say anymore. She has also told jokes that might be considered politically incorrect. She owned it. She apologized.
I may get hate mail for saying this. I was actually more disappointed with how she handled her diabetes. She hid it for years and only admitted it when she could profit from it. As far as I know she never apologized for being greedy. I don’t use those words and I don’t tell those jokes and in 1986 I was 13. I wouldn’t swear that at some point I didn’t tell a joke. I remember as a kid people telling jokes on buses that would considered horribly offensive now. At that time, (as a child) I’m sure I told some and had no idea what I was saying. Then I grew up. Holy cow! Don’t we all mature over the course of 20+ years? Don’t we gain new understand of how to treat each other?
I understand that the Food Network felt the need to cut ties with Paula. I understand that it’s about money. I can’t tell you the last time I saw one of her shows anyway. I understand that the powers that be decided it would be difficult to get anyone to advertise during one of her segments. They made a decision. Let’s face it, there are many chefs that I don’t see on Food Network all that often anymore, like Emeril Lagasse or Mario Batali. Ray and I used to watch Emeril’s show almost every night. We couldn’t wait to see what he was going to cook. The Food Network is so busy billing their new talent, it was almost time for Paula to disappear anyway. I’m pretty sure Pioneer Woman uses more butter. They have Tricia Yearwood representing the south. It’s her son’s I feel sorry for. They are will be tainted too.
I have spent too much time this morning reading comments and discussion forums. This is clearly a divisive issue. We have such different perspectives. I know you didn’t ask, but let me tell you mine. I am very disappointed when I hear someone using that word that Paula used, even from the south, even from her generation. At this point in time, I think when people use it, it is too get a reaction. I don’t like it and I think it’s rude and juvenile. I am not surprised to hear that someone from Paula’s generation used the word twenty years ago, especially when they are from the south. Shoot! The stories I could tell after working as a waitress in a small town restaurant twenty years ago… they would make your toes curl. The point is, we’ve all moved on.
Paula Deen apologized. It was half-hearted. She was honest in a deposition. I heard what she was called by the other person in the lawsuit. It seemed to me to be just as bad. Let’s all take a breath and move on. I do hope at some point in the future the Deen family name recovers, for the sake of her children and grandchildren. I am no longer Paula’s biggest fan… see the diabetes scandal. If I were in Savannah tomorrow, you better bet I would be sitting at Bubba’s or The Lady and Sons. I hope people would forgive me for something I said twenty + years ago.