Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: Born Round

I am a big fan of the "foodie" book--loved Julia Child's My Life in France and anything by Ruth Reichl. And of course Anthony Bourdain, who's completely awesome because in his latest book Medium Raw he devotes an entire chapter to the people he loves and hates, and specifically why he loves and hates them. Who does that?

But I digress. Born Round is the story of a chubby boy born into a large Italian family who shows their love through food. He grows up struggling with his weight (at one point refusing his grandmother's fried fruit pies, which she interprets as him not loving her) and becomes a journalist. When he is offered the position of New York Times food critic, he is forced to come to terms with food, and the way he looks at it.

This is a great vacation read--intelligent and funny but easy to put down and pick back up. Frank Bruni is totally self-deprecating and brutally honest about his food issues.

My favorite line in the story comes when a collegiate Frank embarks on a wilderness camping trip that includes a long, difficult hike. When he balks, the counselor says, "There are things you are glad to do, and things you are glad to have done." I now think this every time I hit the snooze button when I should be getting up to go to the gym. Damn you, Frank.

Also fascinating is how Frank is treated as a food critic, and the lengths some restaurants will go to a) identify the food critic, and b) try to get a good review from said food critic. An interesting look at the world of fine dining and how much those reviews mean to these places.

Janet's review (on a scale of blech to yay): a hearty nod yes with half a fist-pump.

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