Frank Bruni is the latest prominent food critic to reveal that he has been diagnosed with the painful disease called gout. Once called the disease of kings, gout afflicts six million Americans and can be triggered by over-indulging in red meat, other fatty foods (including salmon and shrimp) and alcohol. The gout is forcing quite a change in Bruni's usual diet, he blogs today for the New York Times in a post called Red Meat Blues.
I can offer a report from the front lines of carnivorous cutback, and from a person to whom meat, glorious meat, wasn’t just one of the food groups (in collaboration with dairy) but the grand emperor of them all, more commanding, more regal, more deserving of — I don’t know — half of my caloric intake on a normal day? Two-thirds on a special one? It’s a family thing. When my father, my siblings and I grill steaks, it’s sometimes a porterhouse per person. When we sit down to a big breakfast, we go through strips of bacon as if they were so many shoestring fries.
In early November I was told to stop this. And to drink much, much less. And, while I was at it, to severely limit shrimp, scallops, salmon and other fatty fish to boot. You want a list of my favorite foods? Go to any Web site that instructs the gout sufferer about what to beware of. Almost all of them are there.
A cruel joke, this. But also an interesting test: just how attached, really, are we to the components of our diet that we think we can’t live happily without? Just how endurable is their banishment? Thanks to gout, I’ve been finding out.
Since his early 20s, he writes, doctors who gave him blood test results would say routinely, “You have a tendency toward gout.” They were right. Sounds like for him, drinking is as hard to cut down on as over-eating.
Photo: Justin Maxon/New York Times