Monday, April 25, 2011

The Dead Beat

Today in my Journalism class, my professor let us in on a little secret...being an obituary writer pretty much guarantees you a job.  Known as the Dead Beat, obituary writing insures journalists a chance at feature pieces.  Although writing an obituary requires you to be accurate to a fault, your reporting doesn't have to be quite so unbiased.  For homework, we were told to study the NYTimes section and write an obituary about someone who's still alive.  Of course, I chose The Queen of Y'all and Southern Cuisine, Paula Deen.  I'll have you know, I actually really liked writing this piece; perhaps I've found a new calling.  So, here's my opinion of how Paula should pass.  Hope you enjoy!

        Paula Deen, who with her Southern recipes and Daytime Emmy Award winning show Paula’s Home Cooking clogged quite a few arteries over the past 20 years, died Tuesday at her Savannah, Georgia home from a fried mayonnaise and butter overload.  She was 75.

Her death was confirmed by her dietician and personal trainer Bob Smith.

The self dubbed “Queen of Y’all” began her relationship with Food Network in 1999, after appearing on episodes of Doorknock Dinners and Ready, Set, Cook!.  The network liked her gracious Southern hospitality and offered Deen her own show.  Paula’s Home Cooking premiered in November 2002 to mixed reviews.  Audiences loved it, but critics questioned her recipe’s high amounts of fat, salt and sugar.

In the 2005 feel-good romance Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, Deen made her film debut. She played the aunt of Bloom’s character, and her cooking was heavily showcased.

Deen owned and operated The Lady and Sons restaurant.  Known for its famous hoecakes and garlic cheese biscuits, the restaurant has become a perennial favorite with Savannah tourist since its opening in 1996.

Although the star of a Food Network hit show and author of five cookbooks, “being selected as the as Grand Marshal of the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade was my greatest honor,” said Deen in an interview last year for this obituary.

Growing up in Albany, she spent countless hours in her Grandmother Paul's kitchen, learning and memorizing the same recipes that still line her dinner table today.  Her story wasn't all peach cobbler and sweet tea, though. At a young age, Deen lost both her parents and found herself in a rocky marriage, the mother of two young boys, and the victim of a debilitating disorder that kept her confined to her home.

Feeling trapped, she took to the only place she felt truly comfortable, her kitchen.  Making her grandmother’s recipes, she cooked her way through her misfortunes and years of depression, eventually becoming the Queen of Southern Cuisine.

In 2004, Deen remarried to Savannah tugboat captain, Michael Groover.  However, she chose to keep the last name from her first marriage.
In addition to her husband, Deen is survived by her two sons, Jamie and Bobby; two step-children from her second marriage, Michelle and Anthony, and two grandchildren.  

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