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Barbara Walters vs. Paula Deen

Since Barbara Walters is typically very diplomatic, she surprised me the other day by being rather hard on Paula Deen, who was appearing on The View to promote her new cookbook of lunchesand other meals aimed at children. Walters cited the increasing problem of childhood obesity and criticized Deen for promoting unhealthy eating. Deen couldn't defend herself much, other than to state that these dishes should not be eaten on a daily basis. I felt a little bad for Paula - sure, her recipes are loaded with fat and sugar, but she's not the one responsible for what America's children are eating. Some poor urban areas don't even have supermarkets, forcing people to buy whatever is stocked in small bodegas (with little fresh meat and produce), even if they'd like and can afford to buy unprocessed foods. Then there are people with more money who prefer the convenience of prepared and fast food, haven't trained their children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and readily give in to kids' demands for fried, salty, and heavily-sweetened foods. Children won't be purchasing Deen's books; if their parents do, and prepare the recipes regularly, the onus is on them.

There is a rumor that Walters plans to leave the program when her contract runs out next summer. If she is in fact planning to retire (she's 79), perhaps she has decided she no longer needs to pull her punches.

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  1. To me Paula Deen is on the top and for Barbara needs to lay off of people and not be so mean to them

    1. "Children won't be purchasing Deen's books; if their parents do, and prepare the recipes regularly, the onus is on them. "

      Agree the ownership is on the eater, or in the parents case the propvider.

      Also my family was right on the poverty line growing up. Still my Mom grew a garden and the chicken night one would become a pasta dish night two and a soup night three. Though I'm sure we did not live up to the Alice Waters goal my parents did well at cooking home cooked reasonably healthy meals and making sure we sat down for dinner.

      I think your nutritional paterns growing up deffinently have an impact. Reality TV ..not so much. :) (I'm only in my thirtees so it wasn't that long ago)

      1. I didn't see it but it sounds like Babs was a tad obnoxious. Sure there is an obesity problem but Paula Deen isn't forcing everyone to eat enormous portions of crap. We as a country were doing that long before PD was a household name. All of the fine reasons you listed above are the problem, not Paula.

        I am admittedly not a fan of Paula's style of cooking (processed stuff, too much of my most hated food item - mayo!) but I wouldn't blame her or any person for the way we collectively eat. I admire Jaques Torres' skills as a pastry chef but I am not eating pastries and chocolates every night. Moderation, as always, is key.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mels

          "Paula Deen isn't forcing everyone to eat enormous portions of crap"

          She may not be forcing anyone to, but she is certainly suggesting it. I think she has some responsibility as a celebrity cook, after all, these people look up to her. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about personal responsibility, but if you are going to market a cookbook aimed at feeding children, well then, be responsible about it.

          Oh, and Barbara just turned 80!

        2. Would Walters have given Julia Child grief? Child famously said that if you're afraid of butter, use cream.
          The recipes in cookbooks like Dean's aren't meant to be eaten three-meals-a-day, every day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MakingSense

            Truly another era with Julia Child, however I do not recall seeing an abundance of fat French women last time I was in Europe.. I would mention that Graham Kerr, the illustriously flamboyant television host of the 60's and 70's refuses to allow his old programs to be aired due to the harmful nature of the recipes. That and he was crocked half the time.

            I look back at old 50's television programming and see the likes of Jack Benny hawking Lucky Strikes. Would he do that today if he were alive? Doubtful, and yes illegal. Different era. Chances are half our mother drank profusely while they were pregnant with us to take the 'edge off'.

            On the other hand, Paula is simply over the top nasty. There definitely is no reason for this type of behaviour in a grown woman who seemingly has her senses about her.

          2. I saw the segment is was a little weird all round. BW wasn't overly obnoxious or mean. Paula had every opportunity to defend her self but chose not to. She put herself out there by hawking this 'family friendly' children's book she created. Deen suggests serving kids cheesecake for breakfast. BW had a very valid point. Deen has made a career by creating rich over the top foods.

            BW had been trying to speak but kept getting cut off by Paula and her shtick. She actually look a little grossed out that while in the middle of serving the food the apparently endless number of co-hosts. Paula sat there for close to a minute blatantly licking her fingers and hand. That was simply discussing.

            As for the Julia Child quote, not sure of the context, and it may have been said in a time when values and concerns for health were different. And you really can't (seriously) compare Julia Child to Paula Deen.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Withnail42

              Paula Dean has a shtick that she has built her career on. She's selling a book based on that. The show's bookers knew that, and so did Walters. If she didn't approve, there was a polite way to ask questions, but that's a common failing of this show. They attack people they don't personally approve of.
              Dean's a pro and wasn't going to be pulled off focus. Dean basically ignored her and went with what sells for HER. Dean's fans no doubt loved it and will buy the book. Mission accomplished.

              As cooks, there is no comparison between Child and Dean. Get serious.
              But Child was effectively blowing off irrelevant criticism in a single quip. She preached the gospel of moderation her entire career.
              People make food choices. They can stuff themselves with butter and cream, or eat cheesecake for breakfast every day, or eat those things in moderation or on occasion as special treats.

              1. re: MakingSense

                The Shtick has evolved or snowballed over the few years. I happen to have enjoyed old school Paula when she talked (with much less of an accent) about Southern cooking in a straightforward manner. She has morphed into this glutinous hillbilly/naughty grandma act.

                And Barbara Walters is a journalist who has the right to ask questions on her own show. Perhaps She wanted Deen on to ask that particular question. Asking a relevant question, that you may not personally like, is by no means an attack.

                As for the Child quote what was the context? She was not out hawking a children's cookbook. She might have been discussing a cooking technique or alternative ways to prepare a recipe.

                1. re: Withnail42

                  You're preaching to the choir on Paula Dean. I'm no fan. Her cooking is a disgrace to the South, in my opinion.
                  But Dean is on a book tour. She's promoting her new cookbook, for better or worse, and she's media savvy. Walters creates controversy by asking barbed (no pun intended) questions, and that's her stock in trade. Dean wasn't getting sidetracked.
                  She doesn't write books or do TV shows about health. She does butter without apology.

                  Health concerns over diet are not new. Julia Child could have said that butter/cream thing at any time over the past half-century, and it may well have been related to the publication of Mastering the Art at a time when Americans were being told to switch to margarine for health reasons back in the 60s (if I remember correctly.) Ick!
                  Maybe Child was wrong. After all, butter and cream may well have lead directly to her death at 92. Or maybe it was the red wine.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    No, MS, I think she once-too-often ingested leg of lamb that she had dropped on the floor, picked up and brushed off with the apron she had used to wipe her hands after cracking eggs. ;-)

                    Gee, I miss Julia.

                  2. re: Withnail42

                    I totally agree about the Paul Deen morphing.

                    But, Barbara Walters as a journalist on that show is a bit of a joke. They all yell over each other, to get a word in edgewise. The View, is not 60 minutes, but their viewers seem to enjoy the format. I don't. And Barbara asking Paula about children and obesity wasn't relevant, because Deen isn't trying to do what Jamie Olivier is and conquer childhood obesity. Paula wants parents and children to cook together on weekends and have some fun. On one of Oprah's show last season, Oprah asked Paula about all the fat she was using in her recipe she was making for Oprah. Paula's answer was "I'm your cook, not your doctor"! I am not a fan of Paula Deen's recipes or shtick either.

                    And BW has quiet a shtick too, much different than PD, but still a shtick. JMO.

                  3. re: MakingSense

                    As I recall Julia's quote -
                    "Everything in moderation, including moderation." She lived past the age of 90, eating butter and cream, so it's hard to argue with her philosophy.