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Does Anyone Really Need a Pink Alligator Birkin Bag?

June Pagan: You’d be amazed at what happens in the kitchens of the wealthy. Calm down. It’s not what you’re thinking. This is not about roasted pink alligator.

You’d be amazed at what happens in the kitchens of the wealthy. Calm down. It’s not what you’re thinking. This is not about roasted pink alligator. It’s about something that I witnessed some years ago as a private health chef while preparing an elaborate meal for my rich and famous client.

Birkin Bag

One afternoon, I noticed my employer quietly sneaking through the kitchen with a distinctive looking package. She told me that she didn’t want her husband to find out that she just purchased a Hèrmes purse. Not just any Hèrmes purse – a matte pink alligator Birkin bag to the tune of $65,000. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to her expression of mischievous joy had she not complained about an “unnecessary and frivolous expense” the night before: garnishing an apricot soufflé dessert plate with three dollars worth of champagne grapes.

I was thinking about that Birkin bag episode the other day, while leaving the home of another wealthy client. I noticed the housekeeper struggling uphill on foot and asked her if she needed a ride. As we traveled up the steep road, she explained that the nearest bus stop was two miles away. After getting on the bus, she would then pick up her kids from school, before finally arriving home. My client didn’t seem to care about her hardship at all. What would it take for the employer to arrange for a ride to the bus stop?

I’ll never forget the manner in which the housekeeper’s employer unceremoniously dismissed the housekeeper for the day, knowing that she had a two-mile uphill walk to the bus stop: “OK. You can go now.”

Back to Birkin Bag lady…

I’ll never forget the manner in which the housekeeper’s employer unceremoniously dismissed the housekeeper for the day, knowing that she had a two-mile uphill walk to the bus stop: “OK. You can go now.”

There was another time when she questioned me over the purchase of a piece of Gruyère cheese. “Why did you buy cheese? We don’t eat cheese.” I explained that I bought it at the request of their live-in housekeeper – who had had been in their employ for some 25 years. I was firmly told not to provide fancy cheese to the hired help. Not long after that, the housekeeper was fired for feeding their dog bacon. How was she fired, one might ask? She was fired via long-distance phone call from the family attorney. I wouldn’t have believed the story had it not been told to me by my client herself. She didn’t seem to show the slightest feeling of remorse or sadness over the loss of a loyal housekeeper.

Today, whenever I see a woman carrying a Birkin bag, I think about that employer and people like her. All that money spent on a purse: $65,000. How many mouths could that feed? I can make a healthy plate of grub for $2 a serving. Wild Salmon Croquettes with Pan-Grilled Miso Shallot Vegetables. For 32,500 people.

It amazes me just how thoughtless some people can be when it comes to income inequality and the sufferings of the poor – many of whom serve the rich. What’s it going to take to make the wealthy realize that feeding the hungry is more important than carrying around a pink alligator Birkin bag?

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June Pagan
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