Putting down his fork

Frank Bruni recently relinquished his role as New York Times restaurant critic. Frank Bruni recently relinquished his role as New York Times restaurant critic. (Yanina Manolova/Associated Press)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / August 26, 2009

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After more than five years as The New York Times restaurant critic, Frank Bruni offered up his final review last week. His new book, “Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater,’’ explores his complex relationship with food. It has been a lifelong source of pleasure, but also pain: He struggled with his weight and, for a time, bulimia. We spoke with him recently by phone about eating, working, and leaving behind his anonymity.

Q. So, you are unveiled. How does it feel?

A. Liberating. I’m still getting used to it. It feels weird.

Q. Tell us about your new gig.

A. I’m going to work for the Sunday magazine as staff writer. I’ll continue to do some food. I’ll do some politics. It’s really wide open.

Q. Much of “Born Round’’ deals with your struggles with weight and bulimia. How would you define your current relationship with food?

A. The main thing is I don’t think about it nearly as much as I did in the past. I’m not obsessed with it. I’m constantly conscious of and attentive to some manner of portion control. I don’t get freaked out at the end of a day in which I’ve eaten quite a bit of food. In the old days, a really bad day would freak me out. I’d start a really rigid diet, which was an excuse to have one more heavy eating day. It was a cycle of indulgence or extreme denial. Now I eat at a healthy, steady pace.

Q. How do you think you’ll approach food now as a civilian?

A. I don’t know. It’s too new and fresh. Most of my life, I’ve eaten as a civilian. A lot of it, I ate badly or not in a very well managed way. I think I will make it a point to have a decent amount of food every day. I’m not going to fool myself the way I did in the past that I can set a caloric ceiling that’s low and maintain it. I’m going to try to avoid binges, which were my bane in the past, and keep exercising steadily as I’ve been doing now for 7 1/2 years.

Q. What will you miss about being the restaurant critic?

A. What I’ll miss most is the incredible privilege and thrill of being able to shout loudly and with an enormous megaphone about things that are wonderful. It’s a great feeling to stumble into a fantastic meal and tell the world about that. And I’m going to miss the expense account.