Friday, 28 June 2013

Paula Deen's Dilemma

I don't agree with anyone using the N-word, White or Black.  I don't agree with anyone looking down on anyone else because of the colour of their skin.  

That being said, I don't agree with witch hunts either.  I read last night on the Internet that twelve sponsors were planning to drop Paula Deen because of the N-word controversy.  While yesterday they were ready to sign on the dotted line, today they are dropping her like a hot potato.  Even her latest book publisher is ready to rip up their contract.  Does one word wipe out all of the good things Paula Deen has done?

Paula, raised in Georgia, met and married a man and had two sons.  Her husband walked out on her when her boys were young and left her to pick up the pieces.  On an outing one day, Paula was held at gunpoint.  Fortunately she was not injured physically but mentally she was:  she developped agoraphobia and was not able to leave the house.  

One place she felt safe was the kitchen.  She started cooking at home using the Southern recipes her grandmother taught her to make.  That was when she hatched the idea to open a catering company for the businessmen of Savannah, Georgia.  With only $200 to her name after the divorce, she had little to work with.  How would she deliver the food?  She employed her two sons who took tasty sandwiches to the businessmen downtown at lunch time.  Paula quickly built a name for herself and "The Bag Lady" grew.

Too big to work from home now, she opened up a lunch counter at a local hotel.  Once again, she drew a large clientele who appreciated her tasty cooking.  

In 1991, Paula decided to open a full-fledged restaurant.  Her tables were soon filled with a regular clientele.  She cooked up a storm in the kitchen and soon trained her sons to be chefs as well (hence the name, The Lady & Sons).  By 1999, USA Today declared Paula's food as "The International Meal of the Year".

She wrote her first cookbook, but couldn't find a publisher so she printed it herself.  Copies of the book sat in her restaurant collecting dust.  But then one day a New York editor just happened to walk by and the rest is history (see my post "A New York Minute in a Savannah Storm" at  She has written multiple cookbooks since that first title.  

Television beckoned and the effervescent Paula was ready for the task.  She hosted not one but at least two cooking shows.  She launched a magazine in 2005 called Cooking with Paula Deen.

While divorce was a true test of her character, three years ago she was thrown another curve ball when she was diagnosed with diabetes.  Meeting it head on, she lost a lot of weight and decided to focus on healthy cooking.  

Just when life seemed to be returning to normal, Paula was back in the spotlight, but in a negative way.  I just hope that people remember her for not just what she did wrong, but for what she did right.  She has overcome many obstacles in her life.  She doesn't give up.  Don't give up this time, Paula!

Note:  For more information on Paula Deen, read her memoir It Ain't All About the Cookin' (2007).

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