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Paula, Dear

Maybe it was our southern grandmothers who convinced us that a casserole is the comfort food of any occasion, from births to funerals. Paula Deen understood this and for years has has been glorifying big, creamy dishes based on sour cream, mayonnaise and buttermilk. Part of her appeal is that she serves it all up with doughy warmth and sugar on top, just like grandma, and now she has developed Type II Diabetes. Just like grandma. 

Are we really surprised? What person over 60 do you know who hasn’t aready had to make adjustments in diet and exercise? Didn’t our parents and their friends have to cut the fat, skip the salt, and start choosing lean meats long ago? I can’t even remember when Mrs. Dash earned her place by the salt shaker and turkey bacon became the only thing better than having no bacon at all.  

What is a revelation is the fact that Paula apparently didn’t share her diagnosis, continuing to exemplify a buttercream lifestyle even while she negotiated a lucrative endorsement with a diabetic medical supply company. Now that’s richer than a chocolate ganache.

I admit, I’m disappointed in Paula. When my family members got religion about lifestyle changes, they had to re-learn a lifetime of cooking habits (does anyone else remember the old coffee can full of bacon drippings for gravy and seasoning vegetables?) and rediscover simpler food. Then again, none of them were literally the national representative for southern fried cooking.

Will any of us be interested in a recipe book of ”Paula’s Low Calorie Choices, Ya’ll?” Because that is her next logical frontier, behind the cookware and furniture and medical supplies. Imagine her on the cover holding up a big, shiny apple. Not the same, huh?

Paula dear, I’m disappointed because you knew better than all that butter and so did we. In the ”stroke belt” where many of us have relatives whose lives were cut short by heart disease and complicated by diabetes, we are having to redefine comfort food and southern hospitality. We loved to think that you could defy the odds and keep licking the spoon, but in our heart of hearts, we really did know better.