Stop the War on Southern Cuisine!

Bon AppétitApparently, the folks at Bon Appétit didn’t get the memo; the one where the New York media declared 2012 the year of hating Southern Cuisine.  I just received the latest issue of BA today and it is a salute to America’s most import culinary region, the South.

I have often said that the Deep South has a culinary tradition unmatched in the New World.  Dixie is to America what Tuscany is to Italy, what Provence is to France, it is the nation’s gastronomic heart and soul.  And no Madison Avenue smear campaign can ever change that.

Many might think that the current assault on Southern Cuisine stems from the recent revelation that Paula Deen has diabetes.  After all the brainless snobs at 30 Rock and their ilk have certainly crucified her for not revealing her condition until three years after her diagnosis.  Just for the record, Ms. Deen has absolutely no responsibility to disclose any illness she may have.  Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to post the entirety of their medical history online for everyone to read before even thinking to say anything.

But Paula Deen’s illness is just the latest piece of hypocrisy coming from the elitists, yet another salvo of class warfare.  I’m not saying that Southern food doesn’t have it’s faults.  It can be high calorie/high fat.  But eaten in moderation it will never cause diabetes.  Ever.  Plus it’s no higher in fat or calories than the celebrated foods on New York City.

Let’s take a fried chicken dinner – 2 pieces of chicken (one breast, one leg) is roughly 550 calories and 24 grams of fat, mashed potatoes adds 240 calories, 9 grams of fat and the biscuit is another 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  That’s 920 total calories and 39 grams of fat.  Yep, that’s pretty hefty.

PizzaNow let’s look at one of those giant slices of New York style pizza.  It contains upwards of 7oo calories and nearly 40 grams of fat.  Just one of those famous Coney Island hot dogs has more than 550 calories and a whopping 32 grams of fat.  A big deli-style Reuben has over 900 calories and 60 grams of fat.

None of those numbers include sides.  But since we’re on the subject, which do you think is healthier collard greens or potato chips?  French fries or black eyed peas?  The point is no one cuisine in and of itself is harmful.  The secret to eating healthy is moderation.  If you eat and exercise in moderation you don’t have to count calories or watch your fat intake.  Like Paula said on NBC’s Today Show, “I’ve always said, ‘Practice moderation, y’all.’ I’ll probably say that a little louder now.”

So with that squashed, I think I’ll go fix some fish and grits.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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