Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The most dangerous woman in America

I find cooking shows boring generally, although I'm sure there is a sociology thesis out there on how different cooking shows reflect trends in societies. British chefs have a tendency towards autocracy, right from snobby fish-face Fanny Craddock, admonishing housewives to keep up with their neighbours, and pulling contorted sneery faces at poor working-class women, to Gordon Ramsay (Fanny in male drag) - the dictionary definition of a foul-mouthed, dead-eyed work-place bully. Even nice Jamie Oliver gets all didactic and tells us what we can and can't eat although it's for our own good.

Still, I'd take well-meaning Jamie over some of the American tv chefs any day. Take Paula Deen for example - with her Georgia folksy "hi y'all" demeanor, huge white hair-helmet and filthy laugh, Deen is a living Hanna Barbera cartoon right out of the Perils of Penelope Pitstop. She believes that "exercise kills" and seems intent on getting her audience to eat food that is going to significantly shorten their life-spans. Liquid butter features heavily in most of her receipes. Here's a typical one, for deep-fried cheesecake. Yes, cheesecake.

Stick with it to the end. Having fried her cheesecake, Deen decides it's "not sweet enough", then covers it in powdered sugar. But that's only the start. She then covers it in chocolate glaze AND strawberry glaze. Then more powdered sugar. Then a huge dollop of fresh cream. The woman's arteries could be used to hold up sky-scrapers.

Deen has what's kindly described as a "bubbly personality". The more unhealthy her recipes are, the more she gurgles and giggles and takes impish glee in them. It's easier to see why she's popular. She appeals to two distinct audiences - people with bad diets who feel validated by her, and those who find her appalling yet camp. This has resulted in many bizarre edits and commentaries of her show.

This one refers to her "Diarrehea apple pie" for example:

Whereas this one (my favorite) has slowed down the video and put on a creepy soundtrack, which helps to bring out the druggy, scary and sexual nuances in the show. The food makes disgusting slopping noises as it's slapped down on the counter, whereas Paula sounds like an animal when she eats it. Look out for the image of a ghoul at one point.

And Deen is one of those people who seems to attract attention wherever she goes. She made headlines when delivering hams in a charity event, and got one thrown in her face (prompting a "pigs might fly" headline which wrote itself).

In this clip, her trousers randomly fall down, revealing her not-very-attractive bottom, during a public event.

And if you want an even more surreal experience, check out the website Paula Deen riding things.

Deen is a horrific example of a society which places too much emphasis on "rights" while completely ignoring responsibilites. Ignore her at your peril. Yet she is also the gift who keeps on giving. Aren't you a little bit interested in trying out one of her buttery, disgusting, sugary concoctions? Just to see?


Anonymous said...

She's like a white, trailer trash version of Rusty Lee.

Tom said...

Did you not notice the vegetable on top of the cheesecake? See... it isn't totally unhealthy!

I'd love it so much if you could host a dinner party and only use Paula Deen recipe's. You'd need hidden camera's to record the look upon your guest's faces though.

ukjarry said...

I think this makes a little more sense if you know just how demonised salt, butter and sugar have been by health officials and campaigners in America for the last 30 years. Yes, these ingredients are major components of precooked fast food, but when people actually make food for themselves they’ve been almost indoctrinated that salt, sugar and butter KILL. So yes, this programme is disgusting, but it’s also deliberately cocking a snoot at “Health Nazis”, both in its Redneck awfulness (boo sucks to you Mr fancy-pants Cordon Bleu) and also the very ingredients she chooses to use.

Hence this cartoon by the great Roz Chast in this weeks’ New Yorker:


It’s all about guilty pleasure. That’s why Americans were getting so excitably nostalgic about that Julia Child film last year.