Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Frank Bruni gives me a funny feeling in my tummy. Hunger, for the most part, but also something else: humor. Yes, when I read FB's delightful little column, I can't help but chuckle - sometimes at his wit, and many other times at his adorable, overblown use of language. He looks like a guy who works in IT, but I prefer to think of him as an erstwhile Lord Byron, poetic craftsman and hedonist with a passion for luxury and a taste for heartbreak, by day stuffing his gullet with the finest game, by night scribbling away by oil lamp in his tattered finery and making love to keep trim. I've decided to present you with a Bruniism of the Week, every week, starting tomorrow. And to give you a taste of the joys to come, I present the all-time highlight of Bruni’s career so far: his review of Del Posto (NYT, 03/01/06). He opens alliteratively:
"Much has been said about the marble, mahogany and millions of dollars..."
But the real gems are the extended metaphors:

“They have crumpled page after page of the script that made their previous ventures so beloved and written a new libretto, emphasizing refined notes over rustic ones…”
Poetry! So, what mouth-watering melodies play on the strings of our tongues at Del Posto? To begin with, lettuce. “The arugula here makes arugula at many other restaurants seem like iceberg in drag”. Splendid, splendid. Next, the “inventive and delicate” cauliflower sformato ("a puck of ethereal custard”), and the “luxurious and earthy” ravioli “paired with pigeon and myrtle”. I love this image. Bruni entertains in a reclining position on a brocade divan, plucking daintily from a plate of pigeon and myrtle, fresh-picked that day on the moors. He spears one such berry on the prong of his fork and examines it, addressing all present: “Ethereal, are they not? A perfect sphere, like a tiny universe…” Bruni is so melancholy in the fall.

Next, Bruni describes spaghetti with crab and peppers as “fiery and populist”. While I know what he means, I tend to prefer a social realist lunch, accompanied by a romanesque beverage. Though I can’t help but be tempted by the “precious, rococo tangents” he describes next. What sort of rococo tangents, you ask, you naughty child? I’ll tell you! But you must promise not to tattle. Alright, here:

"Mr. Batali's love of offal finds expression in pici, a sort of fat Tuscan spaghetti, with coxcombs, chicken livers, duck testicles and, for conventional decadence, black truffles. Less predictably, agnolotti of veal, pancetta, chicken, mortadella and Parmesan are served slightly crunchy and unsauced, to be plucked and eaten with your fingers."

Less predictably? Less predictable than your average old cockscomb-chicken-liver-duck-balls offal stew?! What could be less predictable than DUCK BALL STEW? The answer is: Pasta served as finger food. That's right! Haha! You eat it with your hands?! Bruni, you enchanting scoundrel! Duck ball fricassee is so baroque.

The sliver of ethereal icing on the cake are Bruni's thoughts on valet parking:

“Valet parking may seem molto suburban, but I suppose it’s a welcome convenience
for diners with cars.”
You can’t see me, but I’m nodding sagely.
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you the Bruniism of the Week. And if once a week isn’t enough, you can read his blog.

Molto suburban,



notjesslane said...

Have you read the bruni digest??


Andrea said...

Not until everyone told me about it in response to this post! It just goes to show you the universal, irresistable appeal of THE BRUNI.