Last month, almost to the day, Paula Deen was sacked. Everyone's favorite Southern cook turned out to have a darker side, and this time it wasn't attached to the calorie count of her food. Mama Deen, it seems, is a racist, and her treatment of her restaurant staff over the last two decades has been continually laced with racial slurs and demeaning business practices.
Strangely enough, the story broke in the National Enquirer, which I have to believe is the first time that I know of the Enquirer breaking actual news. Food Network responded quickly by ending Deen's contract, pulling all her shows from the air and her merchandise from their online store. Now if you want to get any of her recipes you have to go directly to her website, which I will not link here.
A few days a story ran in the New York Times about the woman behind the woman, Chef Dora Charles, who spoke about the harsh treatment, low wages, and racial slurs that pervaded her relationship with the Queen of Butter. I call her Chef because she was the woman who ran Deen's kitchens, even though she was only making $10.00 an hour, even after Deen joined the Food Network. That information alone is pretty suspect.
This entire story is shocking to the core, mostly because millions of us connected with someone we thought was a sweet old Southern gal. We brought her into our homes and trusted our family's with her food. Food she mostly learned from Chef Charles, it turned out. It's like learning that
I wonder what her sons must be feeling. Back when I had the Cooking Channel (or cable at all for that matter), I would occasionally what Not My Mama's Meals. Strangely enough Bobby Dean's site on the Cooking Channel website still has pictures of his mother, as well as references to her cooking and recipes. Cooking Channel is owned by the Food Network, so why is this woman still smiling at me from their site? Are they regretting their decision to terminate a racist, or have they simply forgot about her connection to her son's show?
I am curious that if I watched an episode now, would Paula Deen still be on it? What does that say about the Food Network and their commitment to her termination?
What I do know is that tons of people seem to think it's entirely alright to mistreat others based on the color of their skin, and are calling for a boycott of the Food Network until they bring back the Deep Fried Diva. I had to stop reading comments on Food Network Facebook posts because they are constantly flooded with vitriol against the network. This baffles me.
"People make mistakes" doesn't cut it when a woman has done racist things for decades. This means that she has thought nothing of it for years, and most likely still thinks this way. This is a very big deal for a Southern cook, because Southern food is so very connected to the Black communities of the South. It's as if she's saying "I don't value you as a people, but I sure do love your food. Here, let me build an empire around it."
There is nothing "best dishes" about that. And no, that is not something a little apology can fix.