Graham’s medically-ordered couch-boundness prevents him from working until next Friday. It also prevents him from LouFest (but that guy from Indiana showed up to buy my tickets, hooray!) and the International Festival (dear Meskerem, please to begin delivering doro wat to my house). During this recovery weekend, we got into a conversation about how Graham isn’t an organ donor (don’t get me started), has signed paperwork denying himself a blood transfusion (I don’t know, either), and, although he once toyed with the idea of becoming a vegan (clearly before he met me), he finds that as he gets older, he just doesn’t care about being an idealist anymore.
Wearing fur? He doesn’t care. Eating meat? Still doesn’t care. A lot of the wider world, beyond-my-sphere-of-influence worries that occupy my mind to the point where I have trouble sleeping sometimes? Doesn’t care. Just about the only thing he does care about is the environment, and I think that’s because he saw something online about oceanic dead zones populated by giant floating rafts of plastic and styrofoam, and that’s enough to disturb anyone.
While his refusal to care about some of these things bothers me, I have to admit that I do see where some of it comes from. For example, I would never purchase a new fur coat because I don’t live in the Arctic, so for me to contribute to that industry is completely unnecessary. However, I see nothing wrong with an Inuit native clubbing a seal to death in order to eat its meat and wear its pelt. That’s not cruelty, that’s survival. Also, while I do admire idealism, my admiration capabilities cannot extend past a certain point. Like, I get what vegans are saying, but to rail against the exploitation of bees making honey or cows making milk while also buying cloth-and-rubber shoes manufactured in a sweatshop or eating fruits picked by migrant farm workers is so arrogantly stupid that the word “vegan” has become synonymous in my head with “goddamn, you are a fucking idiot.”
Speaking of misplaced idealism, did any of you hear about Paula Deen getting pissed at Anthony Bourdain lately? The story is a couple of weeks old, but in an interview with TV Guide, Anthony Bourdain did what Anthony Bourdain is paid to do now that he’s written enough books and made a kickass enough television series to not have to stand up for 14 hours a day in a kitchen anymore.
He talks shit. Actually, that’s not the correct term. To me, talking shit happens when you don’t know what you’re talking about. And I think Anthony Bourdain does know what he’s talking about. About Paula Deen, he said:
“The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is fucking bad for you. If I were on at seven at night and loved by millions of people at every age, I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks.”
Tell me how that’s not true. Tell me that anyone can watch Paula Deen’s show and consider the food she makes to be remotely nourishing. I mean, I’m a loyal fan of meat, butter, and cheese (as is Anthony Bourdain, come to think of it), but even I find her use of them to be excessive and gross. This is the point that was apparently missed by Paula Deen – and Frank Bruni from the New York Times, who stupidly called Bourdain’s comments “culinary elitism” – when she responded with “Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine…My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”
To Frank Bruni and Paula Deen: Bitches, really? You’re really so deluded about what your career has become that you’re unable to admit that you are working to poison the people who watch your shows and buy your cookbooks and moon over your dopey fucking face in commercials for industrially-processed ham? You really understood Anthony Bourdain’s comments as a commandment that Americans pay $58 for prime rib and $650 for a bottle of wine, instead of what they were, an indictment to the bullshit you’re knowingly peddling to people who are apparently too stupid to know that potatoes mashed with half a stick of butter aren’t really a serving of vegetables?
Of course most of the country can’t afford to pay $58 for a meal. No one’s asking them to do that. What Anthony Bourdain is asking people like Paula Deen to do is stop getting paid to shove Velveeta- and cream cheese-laden foods down the throats of the poor, to stop accepting endorsement deals from factory farm slaughterhouses, and to stop acting as though she’s just one of the people. And Frank Bruni, a man who spent years eating at the most expensive restaurants in the country as a job, described Paula Deen as “otherwise 100 percent justified in assailing the culinary aristocracy, to which even a self-styled bad boy like Bourdain belongs, for an often selective, judgmental and unforgiving worldview.”
Culinary aristocracy? Selective, judgmental, and unforgiving worldview? Oh, right. I forgot that Bourdain hasn’t released multiple books describing the very real struggle of most of the world to find nutritious, sustainable (and I mean “sustainable” as in sustaining a family and community, not as a trendy buzzword that Paula Deen would claim is elitist) ways to stay alive. And that he’s spoken hundreds of times about the struggle of Americans to do the very same thing, proving that it’s not just about countries we think of as the third world, because our own government can’t offer enough subsidies for farmers or the people who would buy their produce, meats, and other whole ingredients that would in any way compete with a corporate monster machine’s endless marketing of processed, barely recognizable “food.” I forgot about how selective, judgmental, and unforgiving that can be, especially when corporations like Smithfield, Land ‘O Lakes, TGI Friday’s, and other Food Network johns are actively working to tell people what to eat.
But sure, go right ahead, Paula Deen and the New York Times, please remind us all that you’re just one of us, and that you’re championing the hardworking American’s way of life. Pretend like you actually give a shit about something other than someone’s criticism of what you’re doing, and that you care Thing 1 about anything other than your “brand” and how it makes you richer. I have no qualms with making money, but if you’re claiming that your efforts to do so are really about saving the world and protecting your fellow citizens, then you are the ones who are talking shit.