Foreign correspondent Bruni (Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, 2002, etc.) faces a menu of challenges after taking a coveted job as the New York Times restaurant critic.
Growing up eating the lavish meals cooked by his Italian mother, it was apparent early on that Bruni would be forever consumed by food. But the author didn't just love to eat; he was obsessed with it, tossing down triple helpings and throwing tantrums when his mother refused further offerings. “I had been a plump infant and was on my way to becoming an even plumper child,” he writes, “a ravenous machine determined to devour anything in its sights.” Self-conscious about his expanding midriff, the soon-to-be journalist's disorder manifested into bulimia by college in an on-again/off-again battle that would stay with him through his tenure as a Times White House correspondent and later during a post in Italy. When he received the offer to sacrifice his European spot to become the Times’ restaurant critic, Bruni was torn. Living in Italy was a lifelong dream fulfilled. More importantly, with his history of eating problems, could he maintain the healthy waistline he'd finally achieved when faced with plate after plate of New York’s finest cuisine? “This decision is insane,” he writes. “But it was also irresistible, even poetic, the kind of ultimate dare or dead reckoning that a good narrative called for.” Taking the job, Bruni eased into the critic game like a pro, masking his identity from keen restaurateurs whose staffs were on constant alert. Keeping a constant eye on the scale, he often donned hilarious disguises to outfox his subject’s purveyors, and hit the treadmill and Pilates classes to outrun his caloric demons.
A full dish of humor garnished with ample trimmings of self-examination.