Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times restaurant critic's heartbreaking and hilarious account of how he learned to love food just enough after decades of struggling with his outsize appetite.
Frank Bruni was born round. Round as in stout, chubby, and hungry, always and endlessly hungry. He grew up in a big, loud Italian family in White Plains, New York, where meals were epic, outsize affairs. At those meals, he demonstrated one of his foremost qualifications for his future career: an epic, outsize love of food. But Bruni's relationship with eating was tricky, and his difficulties with managing it began early. When Bruni was named the restaurant critic for The New York Times in 2004, he knew enough to be nervous. The restaurant critic at the Times performs one of the most closely watched tasks in the epicurean universe; a bumpy ride was certain, especially for someone who had never written about food, someone who for years had been busy writing about politics, presidential campaigns, and the pope. What qualified him to be one of the most loved and hated tastemakers in the New York food world? Did his decades-long obsession with food suffice?
Food was his friend and enemy both, something he craved but feared, and his new-job jitters focused primarily on whether he'd finally made some sense of that relationship. In this coveted job, he'd face down his enemy at meal after indulgent meal. As his grandmother often put it, "Born round, you don't die square." Would he fall back into his old habits or could he establish a truce with the food on his plate?
Born Round traces the highly unusual path Bruni traveled to become a restaurant critic; it is the captivating account of an unpredictable journalistic ride from an intern's desk at Newsweek to a dream job at The New York Times, as well as the brutally honest story of Bruni's lifelong, often painful, struggle with food. Born Round will speak to any hungry hedonist who has ever had to rein in an appetite to avoid letting out a waistband and will delight anyone interested in matters of family, matters of the heart, and the big role food plays in them.
"Outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Bruni admits he was even a baby bulimic in his extraordinary memoir about a lifelong battle with weight problems. To his Southern Italian paternal grandmother, food equaled love. Cooking and parenting from Old World traditions, she passed these maternal and culinary principles on to her WASP daughter-in-law, whose own weight struggles her son eventually inherited. Through adolescence, puberty and into college, Bruni oscillated from gluttonous binges to adult bulimia, including laxative abuse. Vocationally, journalism called, first through the college paper, then a progression of internships and staff positions in Detroit and New York, including his stints as a Bush campaign reporter in 2000 and as the Times Rome correspondent. In tandem, Bruni's powerlessness over his appetite developed from cafeteria meals to Chinese delivery binges to sleep eating. While Bruni includes such entertaining bits as the campaign trail seen through Weight Watcher lens and ample meals from his years as the Times restaurant critic, in the end, his is a powerful, honest book about desire, shame, identity and self-image. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Among all the 'foodie' books that have been published lately praising food, relishing food, exploring food, celebrating food Frank Bruni's memoir stands utterly alone. This book is an intricate, honest, and sometimes painful examination of one man's extremely complex lifelong relationship with eating, and with overeating. What happens when a professional dieter—one who has struggled since childhood with binging, fasting, shame, and other extreme forms of caloric anxiety is invited, ironically enough, to become a professional food critic? There is much pathos in this story, and humor, and ultimately wisdom. I have always admired Frank Bruni in the past; I admire him more now, for this brave piece of culinary truth telling." Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
"Frits, false mustaches, and sleep broiling? In warmth, breadth, and beautiful writing, Born Round is to borrow a phrase Flintstonian." David Sedaris
"Frank Bruni has written a food memoir for our time, plumbing the depths of our personal and collective eating disorders. By turns shocking and hilarious, Born Round is as addictive as Chinese sesame noodles and as satisfying as Grandma Bruni’s lasagne." Michael Pollan
"A book about rambunctious hunger and appetite for life as much as food that is underscored with a profound yearning. Born Round is, quite simply, beautifully written and makes for greedy reading. It sounds like the most terrible cliché to say 'I devoured it,' but I did!" Nigella Lawson
"Born Round is a lovely and very funny memoir of one man's lifelong struggles with food and weight. I laughed out loud a number of times, and groaned with recognition of both my own madness and healing. I love Mr. Bruni's stories about his family, his secret life, his friends, his path through the swamps and morass of overeating, and most of all, his quietly brilliant writing." Anne Lamott
The New York Times restaurant critic's heartbreaking and hilarious account of how he learned to love food just enough
Frank Bruni was born round. Round as in stout, chubby, and always hungry. His relationship with eating was difficult and his struggle with it began early. When named the restaurant critic for The New York Times in 2004, he knew he would be performing one of the most watched tasks in the epicurean universe. And with food his friend and enemy both, his jitters focused primarily on whether he'd finally made some sense of that relationship. A captivating story of his unpredictable journalistic odyssey as well as his lifelong love-hate affair with food, Born Round will speak to everyone who's ever had to rein in an appetite to avoid letting out a waistband.
Simon Majumdar is probably not your typical idea of an immigrant. As he says, Im well rested, not particularly poor, and the only time I ever encounter huddled masses is in line at Costco.” But immigrate he did, and thanks to a Homeland Security agent who asked if he planned to make it official, the journey chronicled in Fed, White, and Blue was born. In it, Simon sets off on a trek across the United States to find out what it really means to become an American, using what he knows best: food. Simon stops in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to learn about what the pilgrims ate (and that playing Wampanoag football with large men is to be avoided); a Shabbat dinner in Kansas; Wisconsin to make cheese (and get sprayed with hot whey); and LA to cook at a Filipino restaurant in the hope of making his in-laws proud. Simon attacks with gusto the food cultures that make up Americabrewing beer, farming, working at a food bank, and even finding himself at a tailgate. Full of heart, humor, history, and of course, food, Fed, White, and Blue is a warm, funny, and inspiring portrait of becoming American.
About the Author
Frank Bruni was named restaurant critic for The New York Times in April 2004. Before that, he was the newspaper's Rome bureau chief, a White House reporter, the lead correspondent covering George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine. He is the author of The New York Times bestseller Ambling into History, about George W. Bush, and his restaurant-related articles for the Times have appeared in each of the last three editions of Best Food Writing in America. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for his work before the Times at the Detroit Free Press.