The Frank Bruni Report

A fascinating op-ed by the very estimable Frank Bruni in yesterday’s NYT:

Mr. Bruni exposes the shenanigans, falsehoods, and pure silliness behind the scenes and in the front of the house when it comes to food.  Using Paula Deen’s belated admission of a diagnosis of diabetes, which was apparently told to her three years ago, Mr. Bruni goes on to fault food writers and chefs for promoting food that is high in sodium, fat, and calories.

It is so true.  The fast food folks get pilloried for their food, but any restaurant dining and so many cookbook recipes promote food that is simply unhealthy for you.

I’ve been writing about this for years.  Restaurants should be a treat and not a form of regular entertainment.  Salt, butter, cream, and routine use of animal fats at home create unnecessary risks.  The way I think of it: Writing about the pleasures of food without noting the risks is like having sex without a condom.  Well, not really, but you get the point.

Mr. Bruni notes that many chefs work out regularly, but that will have insufficient impact on the effects of sodium.  I’ll tell you this: One famous chef, who will go unnamed, told me that he does not eat the food he serves in his restaurant.  (He tastes it.)  Why not?  Unhealthy.  What does that tell you?  He is not alone.

I say: Cook at home, enjoy what you eat, and deal with life rather than its distractions.

One thought on “The Frank Bruni Report

  1. This is a really interesting column and worth hunting down. Equally interesting is the lack of informed commentary that follows it. Even on the pages of the NYT site, few of the comments rise above the level of talk radio. The question we [well, some of us, anyway] are left with at the end of the day is: Can we indulge our less-healthy food passions and still find a way to balance them thru generally healthy eating, exercise and all the factors that contribute to health.

    One commenter brought up a crucial point. In his pursuit of a healthier diet – he eventually settled on a low to moderate carb, high fiber diet; only complex carbs, and focused on portion control – he ran into contradictory information. Every study and claim about nutrition can be countered by a different study and claim, he said. “Information I’d taken as gospel (eight glasses of water; fat is evil) turned out to be either untrue or unproven. In the end, I had to make my own best guess as to what would work well, because there was no one answer.”

    Viewpoints on healthy eating can change as often as New England weather forecasts, or so it seems. So, can we expect chefs to cook healthy in their restaurants? There’s lots of healthy tasty food already available in certain restaurants. Just as few people select their automobile based purely on practical factors, so too do they choose their eateries for a host of ’emotional’ reasons. When they start making healthier choices, chefs will respond. But judging by the contents of shopping carts at the supermarket checkout line, I’m not overly hopeful. Oh sure, blame the food industry, the restaurant chefs, the TV chefs, the politicians who refuse to grapple with the obesity crisis. But in the end, if we have so little respect for ourselves, can we be surprised if we blame everyone else before we blame ourselves.

    That said, I appreciate when recipe writers (cookbooks, periodicals, blogs) include notes for healthier substitutions. Veteran cooks may know automatically what to substitute, but there are plenty of us fledgling kitchen enthusiasts still learning the fundamentals.

    Meanwhile, I will avidly pursue my high-carb, non-organic diet and seek someone who can speak to the topic with passion, authority and common sense. Any recommendations?

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