Monday, August 27, 2007

Paula Does Rachael

What does it say when Rachael Ray conducted a better interview of Paula Deen than Larry King did? To be fair, she had only a few minutes of a sit-down with the Southern diva, on a show airing originally last May. But she got to the heart of the story, or rather Paula did, much more than Larry did in an hour during his disastrous interview.

Paula (who looked beautiful, by the way), said she wanted people to learn from the mistakes of her past, which included 20 years of much unhappiness and bad choices. I think her message is a hopeful one - that even desperate people can recover to live worthwhile productive lives. You can move on from bad decisions of the past. Paula certainly seems to have a fully rewarding life, nowadays, on so many levels.

Things went downhill, though, when RR and Paula went into the kitchen. Paula's obvious expertise dwarfed Rachael's by leaps and bounds. Paula is making a cake and she makes it look so easy that even Rachael could make it (and that's saying a lot). But no, RR begs her for the cake to take to her mother. By the end of the show, Paula wants to dig into the cake and Rachael wants to take it home. Paula, slightly exasperated, finally says, "Listen, go to the bakery and buy your mother a cake, for goodness sake."

They move on from the cake to dinner that Rachael is making for Mother's Day. She sprays chicken breasts with cooking spray (on only one side) and puts them in a bag with a bunch of spices and smooshes them around. At every step, Paula is cleaning up after her. Paula disappears to the back of the kitchen. What's she doing? Cleaning up around the sink and making things tidy. She goes back to the workstation and, while Rachael is saying something, she's moving things around to wipe off the counter. It's very funny.

Rachael grills the chicken and asks Paula if she ever talks to her food. "Sometimes I do...As long as it doesn't answer me back", it's fine.

Rachael has Paula cook a box of seasoned rice pilaf. Her recipe says to throw out the seasoning pack...why can't you use real rice then? RR says her mom always used to cook that Near East brand.

That doesn't make it right. My mom used to use squeezable margarine, for goodness sake, but that doesn't mean I have to. No kidding, Minute Rice and liquid marg aside, my mother WAS a wonderful cook.

Paula does look a bit askance, but she does what she's told. Rach says "I schuzz it up." Paula kind of mocks her in a funny way,"Oh, what do you schuzz it up with?"

She does compliment Rachael on her beautiful pot. "Isn't it nice?," she says, "It's cute. It's bright and fun. I like orange." Paula mimics her pronunciation, repeating it as OY-nsch. That IS kind of like the pot calling kettle black, but it's still amusing. Rachael decides to ignore her. Then Paula tastes the fake rice dish and, I'm not kidding, she looks completely surprised and says "Hey, Rach, that's ACTUALLY good." (Okay, she didn't say "actually, but it was implied.)

By the end of the show, it seemed as if Rachael was avoiding Paula. Of course, her website has a clip of them dancing together during the commercial. But that's Paula Deen for you, just getting on by getting along with whomever she has to.


Cynthia said...

I don't care what anyone says. I love Paula Deen. I never cook her food but I do get ideas of how I can compeletly redo some of her meals without the lot of fat and butter. What I love is Paula herself. I like her personality. She is real, a little naughty and plenty nice.

Sue, did you see the other day when she took macaroni pie, wrapped it in bacon, egg washed, dredged in flour and then deep fry? (lol) I almost fell out of my chair. You just got to love that woman.

Sue said...

You are so right, Cynthia. Paula has such spirit and joie de vivre, I just love her to pieces.

I didn't see the fried macaroni pie, but I saw a dessert she did, which was lots of candy bars wrapped up in puff pastry (I think), then baked and served with chocolate sauce. And because she's concerned with health, she said, she garnished it with a TINY sprig of mint.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I saw that "dance" on YouTube and it kind of grossed me out.

Is Rachael Ray the reverse of Sandra Lee? Sandra Lee keeps the seasoning packets and throws out the rice. Rachael Ray throws out the seasoning packets and keeps the rice. Maybe there is a reciprocal deal in their kitchens.

Sue said...

Hiya Shortie,

I sorta know what you mean. It wasn't pretty.

Good point about RR and Sandy. The products from both their kitchens deserve to be thrown out, not just the seasoning packets...or the rice.

Miche said...

i love paula deen too and i get so annoyed when i see rachel ray or sandra lee 'not cook'. it makes me want to ask the question... why bother? it's really not cooking anymore is it?

paula deen seems real and in touch with real people. food network could drop the other two and i would not care.

Sue said...

Hi Miche,

You're right; no, it isn't cooking; and YES!