Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater" by Frank Bruni

When I make a list of dream jobs, restaurant critic is always near the top. For a foodie like me, to be able to eat at some of the best restaurants in a city (and not have to take out a second mortgage to afford the meals) would be a pretty amazing opportunity. But since no one is beating down my door offering me that chance, it was fun to live vicariously through Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic.

Interestingly enough, this book hit home for me in more ways than I imagined. While it was fascinating to read about how he went about surreptitiously visiting NYC restaurants and disguising himself from curious servers and owners, and hearing about some of his most memorable meals, that information was included only in the very last part of the book. The majority of the book recounted Bruni's constant struggle with food, his weight and his self-esteem. Growing up Italian, he was always bombarded by food, and it controlled him for many, many years. He'd yo-yo between heavy and thin, tried every major diet (and some minor ones) as well as some very unhealthy habits, and his food-related issues truly affected his mental and emotional well-being probably more than his weight did.

Throughout the book, I kept thinking about how similar Bruni's story is to my own. While I never went to the extremes he did, food has always been one of my biggest vices, and my weight remains one of my biggest challenges even now. I thought this book was terrific, not only for the fat and formerly-fat among us, but for anyone who's ever struggled with controlling an obsession that is controlling the rest of your life. Bruni is self-deprecating, funny, intelligent and insightful. I really enjoyed this book.

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