Paula Deen's trademark cackle and urge to fry everything can be endearing. But her business partnership with Smithfield foods? Now that's offensive, at least for some animal rights activists in Washington this weekend. She was in town for the convention center's second annual Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining show, and during her first cooking demo—she had three, each of which were sold-out with more than 500 in attendance—protesters scattered about the crowd and started yelling out against Smithfield.
"What's that they're saying?" She tried to zero in on chants but wasn't too successful in the huge auditorium. Security guards quickly yanked out the activists. They were dressed in average street clothes and got an early start that morning, protesting while in line for the 11 a.m. show. Why? According to vegetarian literature at GoVeg.com, Smithfield kills more pigs "than any other company in the world" and treats them pretty badly. Pumping the animals with so many drugs and hormones that the poor piggies can "hardly walk, and about one in five die before they can be sent to slaughter."
But this wasn't the only unexpected weirdness at the Paula portion of the trade show. Major tension charged the stage chemistry between her and husband Michael Groover, the white-bearded, Santa-reminiscent tugboat pilot from Savannah. As his wife babbled on and on about the mundane ("Mmm, gumbo") and the more serious (her agoraphobia, which she suffered from for 20 years and left her housebound), he got progressively more tomato-red and embarrassed.
The pinnacle was her kitchen metaphor to sleeping with him. Her "oven" can't bake anymore bread, she admitted, (no third sons, apparently), "but we'll keep trying, right honey?" She kept pinching his cheeks and attempting wet sloppy kisses, but Groover stood on stage deadpan urging her to "start cooking." Oftentimes, he interrupted her mid-sentence, "get over here and cook, Paula."
Deen hardly touched a pan the entire show. Mostly, she just shoved the demoed gumbo and pumpkin gooey butter cakes into her mouth, prepared by local Stratford University culinary instructors. By the end, she was cackling while escorted off stage, ready to sign books around the corner. A very long chain of adoring fans formed, as if in line for a Stones concert. Some people even paid money to get up closer. Oh, Paula.
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.