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Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Born Round

I'm a big fan of the current NY Times restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, but I also have mad respect for his predecessor, Frank Bruni, who wrote Born Round not long after finishing his stint as Times critic.  Ladies, let me tell you, weight issues are not just a girl thing.  Bruni chronicles about 40 years of ups and downs with his waistline.  Yes, it's comforting to read the woes of a true food lover who needs to be careful of how much he indulges (I'm not alone!), but it's also cringe-inducing.  Many a passage had me wanting to scream "Stop!  Not another bite!  You won't fit into your pants!"

As much as I idolize the Times restaurant critic and, let's face it, yearn for his job, it was nice to see him humanized a bit.  For the years the critic is serving his post we, the readers, are never supposed to see his face.  He is this mystery who slinks from restaurant to restaurant, telling us what we should and shouldn't eat.  Without too many personal details or a face to match the byline, he becomes a robot who produces [highly regarded] critiques.  This book proves he is actually human and more like all of us that you could ever imagine.  No one is born with a perfect palate.  In fact, Bruni was born into a huge, loud, loving Italian family and liked to eat simple food (oysters weirded him out).  I won't lie, this humanization of the critic makes me [irrationally] believe I could be the next one trying on disguises to go unnoticed as I review the city's best eateries.

Most of all, Bruni has fun with this book, which is why I'm giving it 7 out of 10 stars.  One of those stars goes directly to his lovable grandma who does not have a full grasp of the English language and tries to explain a recipe by saying you "brown the pork nice nice".

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