Is this thing on?
A thousand apologies for missing last week, Constant Reader. Between a morning class, the gym and three hours of rehearsal a night, by the time it comes ’round to writing a post, I am completely pooped. But not tonight. (Cuz I got the gym in earlier today, thank goodness.) The play, by the way, is coming along well in advance of our Feb. 17 opening (holy sh*t that is getting closer and closer).
Aight, let’s get on with the news before I get too full of sleepies to type. We’re going to start off with the big news from last week before picking up a few nugget-related items.
So first off — Paula Deen. And diabetes. (If you were thinking it was going to be anything else, what’s wrong with you?)
It seems like everyone had something to say about Paula — including some pretty thoughtful analysis from Time.com:
Maybe we just expect too much from food. It’s not our fault; it’s just history. The 1968 Mustang that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt would be blown off the road by the Camry my aunt drives. Food has evolved the same way. Chickens a few decades ago were as lean as quail; hamburgers were the size of canapés. Vegetables were mush; fish were routinely cooked until not a drop of moisture remained in them (which was why they also came covered with sauce, crabmeat, butter and other junk). Every year market pressures have amped up the horsepower on all the most pleasurable elements of food.
And yet it doesn’t have to be that way. A few chefs have embraced a cuisine of limitations. Some have done it for aesthetic or philosophical reasons; others because it was forced upon them. My friend Seamus Mullen was as sybaritic a cook as you could ask for, until he woke up one day, paralyzed with pain from an attack of rheumatoid arthritis. He eventually found a diet that worked to help him stay pain-free and even on his feet all day and has written a cookbook about it. Seamus’s method, which he found through his own research, involves using 18 key ingredients including olive oil, stone fruits and sardines that act as natural anti-inflammatories and avoiding nightshades like tomatoes and eggplant. “I can’t eat corn,” Mullen says, “but the tiny amount I do eat is at the very peak in summer, and the feeling of happiness it gives me is itself a gain for my immune system.” For Mullen, there’s nothing he can’t eat a little of; the trick is to capture it at the perfect moment, when you want it most.
Sadly, that’s the kind of mindfulness that probably won’t drive my lifestyle until it has to. I’m just being honest here. I like corn in summer, but I like it now, too. I like tiny amounts of steak, but I like bigger amounts more. What gives me hope against the inevitable upshot of my pleasures, my own Paula moment, is the possibility that there are ways of eating that aren’t grim and hideous; that the false dichotomy between Krispy Kreme bread pudding and a raw food diet is as misleading as the promise of endless nachos. There’s a way out there for me; I just hope it doesn’t take diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis to find it.
The timing of Deen’s announcement has a strange interplay with the debut of a new show on Food Network: Fat Chef — basically a Biggest Loser using chefs. Here’s more from the Daily Mail:
Paula Deen’s diabetes revelation pretty much sums it up: Kitchen pros at all levels struggle with obesity and its dangerous aftertaste in the high-pressure, high-calorie world of food.
The queen of Southern comfort cooking, now a spokeswoman for a diabetes drug-maker’s health initiative, announced last week that she hid her Type 2 diabetes for about three years while continuing to cook up deep-fried cheesecake and bacon-and-egg burgers between doughnuts on TV.
Choosing to digest her ill health privately all those years, Deen’s story is familiar to those in chef’s jackets who already had gone public with the question few in their world love to talk about: How do you stay healthy while trying to earn a living making food?
On Thursday, a dozen obese chefs, restaurant owners, caterers and others will search for the answer. That’s when the Food Network premieres Fat Chef, which follows participants for 16 weeks as they struggle to lose weight and learn a healthier way of life with the help of trainers, nutritionists and therapists.
‘You have this abundance of food all around you,’ said pastry chef Michael Mignano, who’s one of the dozen. ‘You’re doing parties, you have weddings. There’s always a lot of food left over. You’re constantly tasting, working late hours, eating late.’
Of course, there had to be something completely absurd in the Deen story. Leave it to TMZ’s sensational coverage of Paula eating a cheeseburger (via ABC News):
Last week, TV chef Paula Deen announced that she’s been suffering from type 2 diabetes for the past three years. She acknowledged that a person has “to make changes in your life” but apparently, Deen hasn’t apparently changed all that much. TMZ posted a photo of Deen woolfing down a cheeseburger on Monday while on a 7-day Caribbean cruise. The 65-year-old chef was hosting her annual Party at Sea vacation for 400 fans. TMZ says Deen also had fries on her plate.
She had a burger and fries? Thanks for that hard-hitting reporting, fellas.
Is the Deen story surprising? No, not in the least. At some level, I suppose you (or at least I did) just assume the chef already had diabetes — and that is somewhat truthful as she was diagnosed three years ago. Was it right for her to hide her diagnosis as long as she did? That’s a tricky question. I don’t think celebrity status means you should forfeit all privacy rights — especially when it comes to medical issues. BUT (and that’s a big but) when you specialize in such rich and righteously unhealthy food (as Paula did/does), to sit on your diagnosis and to make the same food seems a bit disingenuous.
Also, Paula’s “only in moderation” refrain might help her sleep at nights, but it won’t do any real good until she shows that you can make healthy food that is also tasty. Do I expect her to change her show? No. Should she? Yeah — probably a little.
Leaving Paula for the moment, let’s look at a new product from McDonald’s — the Chicken McBite: (from the LA Times)
McDonald’s now has its eye on the KFC customer, launching its new Chicken McBites in the U.S. on the same day that it announced record revenue of $27 billion for 2011.
The variation on popcorn chicken, featuring chicken breast and home-style seasoning, will complement the fast food giant’s existing poultry menu items such as the McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches.
The McBites will be available in 3-ounce snack, 5-ounce regular and 10-ounce sharable sizes through April 20.
The new offering is one of the many tactics McDonald’s is trying to stay ahead of what Chief Executive James A. Skinner called “significant headwinds” in the industry, including flat to slow growth, low consumer confidence and volatile commodity prices that are expected to rise as much as 5.5% in the U.S. this year.
I’m still trying to figure out which part of the chicken makes up the “nugget.” Now McDonald’s is telling me I have to find the McBite? Oh to hell with that. Still, there’s one English teenager that remains a big fan of the McNugget — and that’s probably to her detriment. From the Daily Mail: