Late to the party on this one, but as the running around killing oysters sojourn ends, want to rewind to the Moskin piece on Southern chefs that dropped a couple of weeks ago:
IT’S not hard to get Emile DeFelice riled up. Just mention Paula Deen, the so-called queen of Southern food, who cooks with canned fruit and Crisco. Or say something like “You don’t look like a Southern pig farmer.” He’ll practically hit the ceiling of his Prius.
It's nice to see (more) love for DeFelice in the Times, though positing him as the stereotype-defyingest Southern pig farmer is a backhanded way of suggesting that the stereotype is real. But, esp in the wake of the Whole Hog business -- evidently, Summers hooked up w/ Smithfield thanks to her work w/ Smithfield pitchlady Paula Deen - (Summers is Deen's Senior Food Editor) -- it begins to seem as if Paula Deen is the best thing that could have happened to artisanal/heritage pork.
Allow me to explain. If you consider the Socialist movement in the US in the early 20th c. and professional wrestling, the issue is clear. The most badly misread book in US literary history is Upton Sinclair's portrayal of an immigrant family being chewed up and spit out by capitalism, primariy in the form of industrial meat production. Folks read The Jungle, however, got grossed out by the rat shit in the potted meat, and ignored the larger message of the book, passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, and transformed other folks' class/economic problems into their problems as consumers. What the Jungle lacks, in retrospect, is a villain. Here, perhaps, Sinclair could have taken some lessons from professional wrestling, where there is always a face and a heel.
Especially when Bourdain is beating the drums, Paula Deen emerges as the face of industrial meat. In other words, if artisan/heritage meat needs a villian to codify what it is and what it ain't, then Paula Deen makes a pretty good heel. To this end, here's an artist's conception of what it would look like if Paula Deen joined legendary wrestling crew the Moondogs. Thanks to The Artist Formerly Known As Penny Pascal for the peerless Photoshopping.