I may be a first-time caller, but I am also a longtime listener to the high priestess of Butter and Bacon.
“Ya’ll want to start this off with a stick a butter” was a gospel worthy of a YES MA’AM!
“Drop this lasagna in some oy-all” elicited a mmm . . . hmmmm with a fork wave in the air for good measure.
“You ain’t tried nothing like a deep-fried cheesecake” were words of genius, pure genius, I say.
Like a good food evangelical, I would answer back with shouts of “Drop those bacon-wrapped vegetables in batter and give ‘em a good scald!” and “MORE BACON BUTTER, PAULA!” Her face on packaged goods in the Walmart is enough to stop me in my tracks. There’s nothing quite like rubber-necking the high caloric cornucopia of “portion-controlled” offerings. That coy smile and the silver tint of those side-swept bangs say, “Eat this ya’ll and feel better.” I have followed Butter and Bacon through at least four different shades of hair color and at least six different hair styles, or maybe it’s the other way around. [Don't you dare tell me those are wigs because that kind of natural beauty cannot be imitated. See exhibit A below.]
I defended her against the high-minded elitism of Anthony Bourdain and his culinary snobbery because she was keepin’ it red-state real. And if I had a “Bucket List,” visiting her restaurant in Savannah would be in the top five. (She has two so I mean The Lady and Sons with the family-style buffet. Can anyone say creamed potatoes?) After two slices of Gooey Butter Cake, I probably would not survive the experience. My body would seize from the caloric intake, and I would immediately lapse into a food coma. Why? Because that mess will kill you.
I may be a follower of the faith, but I am no practitioner. While watching Paula whip up a batch of “chocolate cheese fudge” with a block of Velveeta the size of a railroad tie is tremendous fun, I wouldn’t want to eat it. Okay, maybe I would if someone gifted it. Still, I’m not one to seek out toxic waste in its yellow oily iteration, that is unless RO*TEL is involved. [Note: As stated elsewhere, I believe that toxic waste has been repurposed into various foodstuffs such as McRibs, Twinkies, canned cheese, and Jello, just to name a few. As such, they are "sometimes" consumables. In other words, much too toxic for everyday.]
Just like I never deluded myself into believing that Giada actually eats or swallows anything she puts in her mouth, never once did I assume that Paula was busting her buttery moves every day. Her arteries would be harder than the Rock’s abs, and she’d be wrapped in a dirt blanket. So why all the fury about her hush hush three-year old diagnosis? Is it really so hard to understand that she’s protecting a brand. It’s like Rachel tells Deckard in Blade Runner: she’s not simply in the business; she is the business. Paula is representative of something larger than herself. [That sounded inappropriate, but you know what I mean.] Paula is a metonym for Southern-fried excess. Maybe Paula, like cigarettes, should come with a warning label: Any resemblance to an actual human diet is purely accidental. Gustation or ingestion of any or all demonstrated food items and assemblages may be debilitating to the production and regulation of insulin. If so, see related product endorsement.
What does it matter that her longtime publicist quit her? Lazy. Who cares if her fellow Food Network stars have not publicly supported her? Jealous. And how was she supposed to know that a fried egg topped with bacon and served in a delicious glazed doughnut was bad for you? Shocker. She said it was good to eat; she never said it was good for you . . . ya’ll.