Bruni Versus Foer: Food, Family, Sex

Photo: AP, Getty Images

“We’re both writing in some ways about the same thing,” former Times critic Frank Bruni said last night during a debate with meat-questioning author Jonathan Safran Foer at the JCC. “We’re both writing about eating food in an affluent country.” And they both love talking about their grandmas! “Particularly my relationship with my grandmother, food is what she did,” said Foer. “We didn’t read books with her, we didn’t watch movies with her, we didn’t play chess with her, we ate.” Grandma Foer now makes vegetarian matzo-ball soup, but Grandma Bruni is not as accommodating. “If I had told my grandmother that I wanted her to make me a vegetarian meal, … I would have had a bocci ball thrown at my head,” said her grandson. “The one time she didn’t speak to me for days was when I told her I was on a no-carbohydrate diet.”

The talk then took a philosophical turn for the weird. “Why does taste become exempt from all the other ethical rules we apply to all of our other senses?” Foer wondered. “It would not be right to slaughter an animal because of the way it looks. It would not be right to slaughter an animal because of the way it sounds. And of course we think that people who have sex with animals … Sex is a much more profound craving and sensory experience than food.”

“You didn’t grow up in my family,” Bruni retorted. And instead of leaving it there, Foer walked us right into a creepy thought loop that we’re still trying to escape: “Why? What’s sex like in your family?”

Bruni Versus Foer: Food, Family, Sex