Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Paula Deen event, and actually (very, very briefly) meeting her.
I'll admit, I've had some mixed feelings about the fried-food diva the past few years. I was growing weary of seeing her name tied to everything from cream cheese to cooking knives. And I thought maybe, just maybe, she played up the Southern sass just a little toooooooo much. I know Deen devotees will not care for that assessment. So, I'll also say that I admire the woman very much. She was a loud-mouthed Georgia girl who lost her parents at a young age, married in her teens and developed a severe anxiety disorder that left her housebound. In most instances, you wouldn't think those would be ingredients for even modest success. Paula, however, overcame those obstacles and built an empire. That kind of thing just doesn't happen without copious charm and savvy. Seriously impressive.
And, I'll also say this: Seeing her in person added to my admiration. Yes, there was plenty of hamming going on (and, no, that's not a Smithfield Ham joke), but it was also evident that Paula Deen is a woman who genuinely loves what she does and is exceedingly kind and grateful to her fans. She's funny, spiritual, and down-to-earth in both appearance and manner. And, of course, she loves food--Southern food, food you're taught to make in your granny's kitchen, food you bake in casserole dishes and take to church dinners, food that sustains and pleases. These are the reasons people love Paula Deen. And these are the reasons that I, despite seeing her face smiling out at me on every other magazine cover in the grocery checkout line, am also a fan.
So, with that spiel out of the way, let's move onto some fun.
Although the event I attended was mostly a chance for Paula to discuss her furniture line, for which she was debuting new pieces at the High Point International Home Furnishings Market, she went over her oft-repeated tale of humble beginnings; she told lots (and I mean LOTS) of jokes; she preached; she introduced her family (Aunt Peggy and hubby Michael) and girlfriends, who she had traveled with in an RV from Savannah to High Point; she flirted; she hugged; and she posed for pictures (again, LOTS). It was major fun, and I laughed my head off.
I also appreciated an audience question in which Paula was pointedly asked whether she had sampled any Lexington barbecue since she had been in the area. The questioner then invited her to her family's restaurant, Jimmy's Barbecue. (In case you couldn't tell, we're Lexington-style BBQ fans here!)
Ok, so I said this post wasn't going to be ALL about butter, but it is some about butter. You knew that would happen, right? Come on ... you know you did. This is a Paula Deen event we're talking about here.
So, to start off with, Paula informed us that she loved butter so much she had taken to dressing in butter-colored shades:
And these darling women were set on attracting Paula's attention with, what else, butter:
(In case you can't tell, they have butter packaging on their straw hats ... One of the ladies also has grits and a moon pie on hers!)
Finally, this video had nothing to do with the event I attended, but I couldn't resist: