The book focuses on Bruni's early relationship with food, from its significance in his Italian-American family to its impact on his social life. When he was growing up in White Plains, New York, in the 1960s, food symbolized power and tradition, illustrated by his relatives' familial battles to create the most indulgent of holiday spreads. Bruni writes, "Mom treated our holiday visits as Make-A-Wish Foundation moments, only all the wishes involved eating," from his favorite chicken divan to homemade Egg McMuffins. Rendered beefy from these feasts, Bruni later laments his love of food, fervently chasing the "wondrous Xanadu of the willfully emaciated" with bulimia, doses of laxatives, and amphetamines. His issues—and his waistline—only grow larger from there.