An Open Letter to Paula Deen

Dear Paula,

I know you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately (just stop talking in public), but I thought I’d change the subject by giving you some (somewhat dramatic) feedback on one of your marinara recipes that recently tried to ruin my life.

In your recipe, you said that all good marinara starts with good wine. I had two glasses while looking for a lid that fits on the pot, so I have to agree. After adding a generous glug to the pot, I set the bottle aside for my refills.

You suggested shitake mushrooms, but I don’t make nearly as much as you do and I’ve never liked how they mix with tomatoes. So I skipped that part and killed the time with more wine.

It got hot (is anyone else hot?) so I opened the window. Meanwhile, the wine started boiling and I went to take the pot off the burner, not realizing that the handles would be scalding hot. After I threw the pot in the sink and stopped using your name in vain (still no N-word), I started over and poured another glass of wine to get me back in my mood. I also took a Xanax. It wasn’t in the recipe, but it’s been a rough decade.

I chopped another round of herbs and managed not to cut myself, so that’s a plus. By the way, is parsley really doing anything for anyone or is it just for show? It’s like your cousin at Thanksgiving that always offers to help but doesn’t ever add any real value.

So earlier, when I burned myself, I also splashed wine on the recipe. I couldn’t read everything clearly so I added ¼ cup of butter to be on the safe side. I was also tempted to pour the pot in the deep-fryer but that seemed premature.

After chopping what seemed like a disrespectful amount of tomatoes, I refilled my glass and found myself back at the part of the recipe calling for mushrooms. Fuck it. You want mushrooms? Have mushrooms.

A side note: This has already taken fifteen minutes longer than opening a jar of Emeril’s spaghetti sauce. He puts his recipe in a jar. Meanwhile, you’re probably sitting on your porch using the N-word or claiming only 3/5ths of your employees on the payroll.

Back to the point, the wine kicked in, not unlike the SWAT team at the door of a drug dealer’s house, and I decided to relax a little by turning on some music.

Yet again, your recipe let me down. You should have specified to choose an onion that won’t judge you when you start sobbing. Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s A Heartache” came on, and it was all I could do to not preheat my oven and crawl inside of it.

After I added all of the other ingredients for part one (really, two parts is excessive), I sat down on the couch to take a much deserved break. An hour passed—at least I think it was an hour—and the smoke detector woke me up. The wine had evaporated out of the pot completely (the bottle was also strangely empty) and the onions were burnt and disfigured beyond recognition.

It took me about three minutes to collect myself and clear out the smoke before I threw up an emotional white flag. In my frustration, I stumbled out into the parking lot with your cookbook, determined to tear it apart. Unfortunately, your publisher used a high-quality binding, so the best I could do was tear out a page or two at a time until I was so exhausted that I just threw the tattered remains in the dumpster.

I spent another five minutes morally justifying throwing away most of the dishes involved with preparation rather than washing them. So, that’s two hours I’ve wasted. Not to mention a bottle of wine. And I’m still hungry.

If I wanted to waste two hours, twenty dollars, and be emotional and drunk, I would have just gone to the bar like a normal human being.

You owe me $36 for my Domino’s order (yes, you can almost hear me saying, “fuck it, I’m ordering pizza,”) and we’ll call it even on the wine.

Bitterly (butterly?) yours,

Ty

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