Saturday, February 28, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I've become so disillusioned with so many television shows over the past year or two. So many favorites have let me down, and hard. It's difficult when you've become invested in a character and he gets killed off, or a plotline suddenly veers off unexpectedly and "jumps the shark." Or even a nightly lineup gets shuffled around, and there goes "Destination Television!" Sometimes, the network simply cancels a show right out from under you. It's bitter, so bitter. But this time, I have to do all the dirty work myself. I have to break up with someone who I used to enjoy spending time with. I liked her down-to-earth chatter and her no-nonsense but still good food. I'd come home from school, change into my comfies, grab something to drink, and plop on the couch and spend a half hour with down-home Butter Goddess, Paula Deen.

But not anymore.

Now Miss Paula has joined the ranks of Giada DeLaurentiis and Sandra Lee as my Armageddon Brigade of Kitchen Idiots. I cannot stand to watch any of them, even to sit and constantly criticize, snipe, harp at, and malign them as they "cook."

Here, therefore, is my open Dear Paula Breakup Letter to Miss Deen. Sigh.

Dear Miss Paula,

Believe me, it pains me deeply to have to write you this letter. For years, I watched you faithfully and enjoyed you immensely. How fearlessly you tossed stick after stick of butter into every recipe! How your Holy Trinity remained Butter, Mayonnaise, and Canned Creamed Soups despite our nation's Obesity Epidemic. I defended your folksy southern pronunciations: "spatchler" for spatula; "awl" for oil. I even overlooked your use of "cheese" as a verb, as in "Y'all can wait for the last fifteen minutes to cheese your casserole", meaning "to top with cheese." I simply grinned indulgently when you constantly looked obliviously into the camera as you massaged oil into a cut of pork and said rapturously, "Y'all know how I like to rub my meat." I simply ignored your use of the term "tin foil" even though foil has not been made of tin for...well, EVER.

But when your popularity began to soar in the past couple of years, something happened. You began to market your Countrified Schtick Personality. And magnify it. Suddenly, your accent became more pronounced. Down-Home Expressions peppered your commentary like Cajun seasoning. You got another show, Paula's Party, and on it you acted like a Saturday Night Live actor doing an extreme caricature of you. On crack. And Spanish Fly.

And then there was the crap you started making on your regular show.

I think one recipe says it all: Cheesy Ham and Banana Casserole. Good Heavens. The title alone is gut-wrenching, but the ingredient list (deli ham, bananas, bacon, cheese, potato chips, and, for that little je ne sais quois, nutmeg) is enough to set anyone off on a vegan and Luddite lifestyle. Urk.
At the risk of losing readers--and my own gastric wellbeing--here is a picture:
What were you thinking? Were you hoping for instant inclusion in The Gallery of Regrettable Food?

In any case, it's over between us. I can't have any self-respect and go on watching you, and I can't have any love for food and go on watching what you do to it. Goodbye, Paula Deen, goodbye.

Moving on to Anne Burrell,


  1. Crack and Spanish Fly ... ha! I, too, cannot stand Paula's ridiculous parody of her lil' ol' country self, y'all. Nobody -- and I do mean nobody -- says "y'all" that frequently. I live in Texas; I know this to be true.

  2. I never lived with anybody who watched cooking shows, and I spent a lot of time with my aunt and her boyfriend who watched every other sort of home improvement show out there. I guess I feel as though I already know how to cook well enough that if I want to cook something new, I'm capable of downloading the recipe and just doing it myself. Trial and error can be fun!

    I just watched a video of Anne Burrell, and it brought back memories of seeing clips from cooking shows randomly. I feel like they try and throw in cutesy things like Emeril's "Bam!" or What's Her Name's "EVOO" and all of these things that are supposed to make it seem easy, when really it's just not that difficult. Sure, sometimes we need a bit of practice with something that's a bit out of our comfort zone, but if someone can explain to us how to cook something in twenty two minutes, wasting half of that on some country talk, then I can probably read about it in five minutes. And if you're really so bad in the kitchen that you can't try out a recipe, learn from your mistakes and make it better the second time around, then I doubt some fat woman on the boob tube is going to turn you into a culinary genius.

    Maybe I'm just frustrated with the people out there who sit on their asses watching TV but don't actually go trying to cook something new. You know who you are!

  3. I hear ya! Totally know where you're coming from. I broke up with Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy a while back, and I don't even miss 'em! So many books to read, so little time...Hey, BTW, I'm giving away an actual PRIZE for Sx3 today...come play along!

  4. Good God, woman! Ham with banana and nutmeg? Has she suffered a stroke? Perhaps two pages of a recipe book got stuck together and she made the unfortunate mistake of combining two recipes together. She started out as Paula Deen and suddenly she became PAULA DEEN!!! I blame Oprah.

  5. I was blissfully unaware of Paula Deen for many years. Then when I did start seeing her everywhere, I thought Good Lord, this woman is over the top and who talks like that? Now I am a Southern girl and I am the first to confess when I visit our friends in NC and SC, my drawl increases significantly (I swear it's subconscious, but it's real) ... but Paula Deen, WOWSER. And, she always acts like she's been tipping a bottle on the side. Finally, that casserole ... ugh.

    apathy--LOL on blaming Oprah for Paula's downslide. I could just hear Oprah drawing out her name long and with a drawl like you wrote it!

    Nance, Anne Burrell looks interesting. I watched part of her video on making mashed potatoes with celery root.

    TV mostly stinks these days. You'd think with more people at home looking to TV for entertainment we'd get better, but I must admit I try to think along the same lines as Melissa ... so many books I need to read and lots of other stuff I can spend my time on vs TV.


  6. Nance,

    I have never watched those cooking shows..Perhaps I should have.

    My husband says my cooking is so bad I have the only oven in the World that flushes!

  7. Nancy--Oh, I refuse to believe that and instead think you are engaging in a bit of Hyperbole for Comic Effect. I bet you are known for a special recipe or two.

    Shirley--I love Anne Burrell (Jared and I call her the Barfly Chef because when we first saw her we said she looked like a barfly; that's the ONLY reason)because she is so incredibly joyful and passionate in her cooking and she makes really great food. She is also Mario Batali's sous chef during Iron Chef America, another show I like to watch every now and again for Michael Symon, our Local Hero and another fantastic chef.

    apathy lounge--i blame oprah for a lot of things, but i blame paula deen on the overall demise of the food network's change in mission. i think they should rename themselves the food entertainment network. oh, and in case you didn't click over to the recipe for that casserole, the other stellar ingredient is SLICED WHITE BREAD. bleah.

    melissa b--i love to read, but sometimes, i have to look at food, you know? and i need a little passivity after a long day at The Rock.

    nikey--oh, settle down. i don't think most people (and i may be wrong here) watch cooking shows to necessarily learn to cook. i know i don't. i watch them because i am a foodie: i enjoy food, i enjoy and know how to cook, and once in a while, i can steal a few ideas or techniques. in the case of giada and rachel, i often watch them to snipe and yammer at them for a little harmless recreation. with the First Incarnation Of Miss Paula, i enjoyed her down-to-earth manner and found her endearing and charming. she reminded me of a friend of mine. now, she's a freako and i wouldn't make her "recipes" on a dare. and who are you calling out in your last sentence?

    Penny--good observation, there, dear--she really is a parody of herself. you said it better than i did. i have a lot of readers from texas. how did that happen? are you all on the same street???

  8. I suppose I just don't know enough people who watch cooking shows to know why they do so.

    I guess I'm directing my anger towards people who live vicariously through their television set. "Look Edna, we can watch Martha make a whole Thanksgiving dinner! I'll heat up the Lean Cuisine during the commercial break."

  9. Nance,

    You are right,of course.I do prepare a special viand my family enjoys.

    It is an old secret recipe handed down through the generations and is served only on very special occasions.

    It is......FRIED ICE.....

  10. I've never been a fan of Paula, but I used to like Rachel Ray when she first started. Then she got too popular, became a parody of herself, and started screaming at the camera and acting like she was on crack. I stopped watching. Then a friend of mine, who is on the radio, got to interview her, and she was downright mean. He said he felt like he had been kicked by santa or someone like that.

    I prefer the cooking shows on PBS, actually. Lidia's Italian Kitchen, and Jacques Pepin (sp). They make some lovely recipes.

  11. Forgot to say that that recipe is vile.

  12. j@jj--rachel ray never shuts the hell up, and that's reason #1 why i simply cannot tolerate her anymore. #2 is her use of babytalk: i.e. "sammies" for sandwiches and referring to ingredients as "these guys" and boiling water as "the pool." come on. leave the cutesy schtick at home for your dog and try to speak to me like a grownup. re: PD's recipe--did you get a good look at that pic? you do know that the greyish chunky things are the bananas, right? i mean, it's not like they break down and you don't know they're there. how hideous. you're exactly right; vile is a good word for this heinous miscarriage of food.

  13. If I watch Paula I would have to mute the tv. I cannot stand her accent nor how fake she sounds. I have discovered more good recipes on the internet and in some of the old cookbooks I have here then I ever saw on those shows.

  14. Funny, funny, funny:>0 and that's BEFORE I read the comments. You know Miss Paula is coming down southern Ohio way to JoBeth Booksellers to sign and sell books. On your comments alone I'm tempted to go in costume and out Southernize her. It could be like a duel.
    I get recipes from Everyday Foods, which is put out by Martha Stewart. Now that she's been incarcerated she seems more like someone I might run into at work...everyday.
    Read through some of your other posts and wanted to let you know that not only does John Boehner's skin look fake, his hair looks like a Ken doll and there are plenty of folks in this section of the state who believe West Chester is a mythical place--like the summerlands.

  15. distracted--hi, and welcome to the Dept.! thanks for stopping in and spending some QT. Y'all have a Joseph Beth in SOUTHERN OHIO? What, was there a Diversity Clause in the Mall Development Law down there or what? LOL. Sounds like the Dems had a hand in that.

    Garnetrose--and welcome to you, too! You know, the mute button is a good idea, but it's like I still can hear her. She's just THAT BAD.

  16. My M-I-L has cooking shows on nonstop. I don't know how she can watch them like that. I have either two reactions- What they are making is forcing me to go eat something OR what they are making is so disgusting I don't believe I'll ever eat again. Cooking shows are just not for me I guess. On the flip side my own mother watch home improvement shows all day long. While they are slighty better for your waistline, all those people think they are much funnier than they actually are. The sugary sweetness of their laughter makes my teeth ache.

  17. I just had to read this recipe to my husband. He said, "That's white trash on a plate." HA!

    I confess to seeing Paula Deen in some weird commercials lately where she's got WAY too much eye makeup on. She looks and sounds scary. I think they're for something she'll be schlepping on QVC. I know, but I'm unemployed, and I spend a bit of time each day watching 90210 on SoapTV, which is where I see such stupidity.

  18. ROFL...this was great. I hope you really did send that letter. I remember Paula from many years ago (my family was from Beaufort, SC) and going to her restaurant when it was new. She's always been country but she HAS really gone overboard. At first I thought it was just me!

    I still like Ina Garten, another lover of butter. Unfortunately, no one new on any of the "cooking networks" wows me anymore. I have a son attending the CIA in Hyde Park...think that has something to do with it?

    I'm so glad a ran across your blog. Continue the great work~!


  19. No cable, so I don't get to see the shows, but I have seen Paula Deen on The Tonight Show. She was pretty over the top and there was some rather creepy flirting with Jay Leno. I love my PBS cooking shows though.

  20. Anali--All her flirting is creepy, you're exactly right!

    Caroline--I'm glad you ran across the Dept., too! Welcome, and I hope you return and comment often. I'm a huge fan of Ina; she's so laid back and realistic. My family don't share my love, though, because they say, "She's so boring! She sounds like she's on valium." Yet, they do agree that she makes great food. The only thing about her that grates on me is her laugh. Terrific about your son; but can you get him to cook for you?

    j@jj--your husband's comment is stellar. absolutely. and PD hawks some toaster with an egg maker for a mcmuffin type deal. BFD. awful.

    J.--i used to watch the show with paige davis and the designers where the neighbors switch houses and redo a room. totally horrid. then i went on their website and then read some forum where the actual homeowners told all the dirty little secrets about how awful the stuff really was: how slapdash the final products were, how stuff was held together with tape for the finale, etc. plus, that paige chick--completely annoying and chirpy.

  21. V-Grrrl2:04 PM

    The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Is that in the same building with the V-Grrrl Shoe Hall of Shame?

  22. V--Did you ever visit here? If you find even one pair of your shoes, then it's time to worry....

  23. I just saw this episode the day before yesterday...actually, I couldn't watch it, but I immediately thought of you. And I am in full agreement regarding Ina's laugh, but my own laugh is none-to-appealing to the ears either so I just say "at least she's laughing". It sounds almost like a nervous reaction, doesn't it? And yes, my son cooks for me every time we are together (I help him with chopping and take notes).

    I have been back often and have enjoyed reading past posts. Thank you!


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