Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Foodie Book Review - Born Round, by Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni became the New York Times' restaurant critic in 2004 to much criticism. What experience did he have as a food critic? Maybe none, formally, but he had plenty of experience as an eater. His memoir, Born Round: the Secret History of a Full-time Eater, candidly details Bruni's lifelong love affair with food, through his childhood of overeating, his days of controlling his weight by bulimic means, and on to the steely will power he exhibits today.

Born Round also speaks of his love for his Italian family and the love the family had for food - both preparing it and feeding it to family and friends. For what is food, if not love? Unfortunately, years of overindulgence made Bruni self-conscious about his appearance and, at times, prevented him from pursuing relationships other than that with a cheesesteak or three.

I enjoyed reading Bruni's NYT reviews for his sharp criticism and occasional snark. One of my favorite reviews, detailed in Born Round, is that of Jeffrey Chodorow's Kobe Club. In it, he reminds us about Chodorow's past failures, "Who can forget Rocco’s on 22nd, scene of “The Restaurant,” where Mama’s meatballs were sauced with acrimony and eventual litigation?" Although there were some dishes that lived up to the hype, Bruni felt it appropriate to award Kobe Club a total of zero stars. This of course infuriated the egomaniacal Chodorow, who immediately declared war on the NYT food section.

How can one possibly leave a job that offers perks such as wackjob restaurateurs?

Overall, I found Born Round to be entertaining, touching, and funny. It left me with admiration and respect for the man who had my dream job, and I recommend it to anyone who likes to eat.

No comments: