You know when you’re invited to a large family gathering and you’re filled with a bit of dread. Lots of cheek-pinching and stories told about how you wet your pants in the third-grade when you had to give an oral book report in front of your entire class. But there’s always some wacky, gravel-voiced relative who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. So you spend most of your time with her, since she’s the most fun person in the room and you never know what will tumble out of her mouth. And you want to be there when all the choice nuggets do.
I don’t ever watch Food Network since it’s not on television in France so I don’t know the cast of characters. But I hear about them, so I spent an afternoon watching it the other day just to catch up. And while I quickly got tired of the wide-eyed, pendulous Giada, shuddered at the skin-crawling ‘charms’ of Bobby Flay and wondered aloud if it’s just me or if the ever-popular Rachel Ray is looking more and more like an NFL linebacker these days. I did find someone worth-watching amongst the dreck: Paula Deen. Let me tell you, that girl’s a hoot. Watching her, I was reminded of that favorite aunt, who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, who will say or do, or eat, anything.
Watching Paula traipsing about London and Paris on her hour-long special, here’s this southern woman, all wide-eyed and big-haired, visiting one of the handlebar-mustached butchers at my market. Looking her up and down, he proclaims her breasts “Les Guns of Navarone”…and once that was translated for her, what did she do?
That girl just threw back her head and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Tearing into a loaf of bacon bread at Kayser Bakery? Paula went nuts over it. Hot, buttered crêpes at the market? Once she finds out how to say ‘butter’ in French, Paula points out, with all her righteous southern charm, where the crêpe-maker missed a spot.
I can feel my readership dropping off as I write these words, but that girl is a hot-damn pistol. Hey, anyone who can talk about loving the taste of a cream-filled pastry so much that she almost wet herself, or can go up to a French butcher and kiss him full-on the lips, I say, “You go, Paula.”
Like all the butter and bacon she’s constantly jawin’ about, I’m sure Paula’s best taken in small doses. And I had to change channels once she broke down in a gusher of tears as her sons surprised her at the end of her stay in Paris.
Even that was a bit much for me.
So hopefully I can have my reader’s back. Or maybe I’ll grab a few of hers. And when I get back to Paris, I’m heading straight to the butcher. And if Paula ever returns, I’m taking that girl straight to the fish market.
I think this Yankee can learn a thing or two from her.