For those of you who don’t have every possible food news source beamed directly into your brain by advanced culinary gossip satellites, here’s an update: Anthony Bourdain is insensitive (as usual), Paula Deen is the butt of his jokes (as usual) and defends herself by explaining what a good person she is (as usual), Frank Bruni gets all opinionated about it (as usual, but to be fair, he’s an op-ed columnist), and now the Village Voice insists everyone is missing the point (as usual).
To be more specific, Bourdain told TV Guide that he thought Paula Deen was ”the worst, most dangerous person in America” and accused her of “telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us.” In response, Deen accused Bourdain of being elitist and uncharitable, telling the NY Post, “I have no idea what Anthony has done to contribute besides being irritable.” Bruni jumped in to say that while Deen, with her TV riches, might not be the ideal spokesperson for “regular folks” anymore, she’s right to criticize the “culinary aristocracy” for its “often selective, judgmental and unforgiving worldview.”
To this, Rebecca Marx (we’re fans) from the Voice adds her two cents, criticizing Bruni’s defense of Deen:
“Deen, for all of her folksy, I’m-just-cooking-for-all-of-y’all-who-can’t-afford-microgreens charm, has made many millions thanks to her partnership with Smithfield Foods, the pork producer and processor that’s made headlines for abusing unions, animals, small farmers, and the environment. Deen is no less a member of the culinary aristocracy than Bourdain — they just belong to country clubs with different rules.
Bruni argues that “getting Deen to unplug the waffle iron doesn’t strike to the core” of our country’s obesity problem; rather, it’s the dearth of fresh, healthy food that’s to blame, and changing that requires a level of public intervention that’s unlikely “in such pinched times.” But that’s a half-truth: While many people certainly lack access to the healthy food that should be a given in any community, they’re instead eating the processed foods that people like Deen and Sandra Lee champion. And those products, as has been pointed out over and over again, are just as responsible, if not more so, for building a nation of fatties.”
Seems like Bourdain agrees: in a blog post yesterday, he tries to clarify his point, saying that the season finale of No Reservations will do most of that for him.
“For ****’s sake, the South pretty much taught us all to cook. They know what good, affordable food is—having pretty much written the book on the subject. All I’m saying is that Macaroni and cheese is a good and noble dish. Deep fried macaroni and cheese is no better and certainly no more affordable.” [Editor: Bourdain actually self-censored with asterisks!]
What we’d like to see, just one measly time? Four “real people,” not pundits or celebrity chefs or TV personalities, with a public platform to discuss food and health in this country. And maybe they could do it face to face, instead of snarking at each other through Page Six? Just a thought…