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Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family
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Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  1,163 ratings  ·  162 reviews
In a restaurant family, you’re never just hungry—you’re starving to death. And you’re never full—you’re stuffed.
Patricia Volk’s family is as American (background: Austrian-Jewish) as “Rhapsody in Blue.” They came to these shores determined to make their mark; each of them is a piquant morsel of history. Great-grandfather Sussman Volk brought pastrami to the New World. Gra
Audio, 0 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2001)
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i know a lot of people -- including my wife -- love this book but i found it boring in the extreme and gave up halfway through. it's all bragging about her family (who are somewhat least to her), all snapshots, and absolutely no story. i find it amazing it got so many good reviews. i wanted to throw it across the was so annoying. this book is probably a hoot if you're a member of the author's family but for me, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

This book was a surprise for me. Though it is about a restaurant life and loosely organized by food topics, it is much more about family--the good, the bad and the ugly.

Though I sometimes lost track of the relationship of one particular person to her, I loved the deep sense of respect and affection she has for each eccentric member of her enormous family. The writing was beautiful. The story was sad in some places and "laugh out loud" hilariuos in others. I have a wonderful brother, have never
I couldn't stop reading this book. It's one of the best memoirs I've ever read--hilarious, full of memorable characters, and told in short vignettes woven into the longer narrative of the family's life so things never get boring. I highly recommend it.
Patricia Volk is like Woody Allen minus the trenchant humor. Her family of annoyingly kvetchy and insulting people is constantly displayed as "lovable," but you know that if you spent five minutes in the same room with any one of them someone would be murdered. Why she constantly parades before the reader this collection of obnoxious characters, most of whom insult her in the time-worn manner of hypercritical ethnic parents, is baffling. And, like one of those round-bottomed clown-faced punching ...more
Jul 05, 2007 Jocelyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like memoirs and/or NYC history
This was one of the few remaining books-on-CD left at the library after the summer vacation rush. Obviously, since this is a memoir, it focuses on the fabulous history of the Volk family all the way down to lost cousins, married-in aunts and uncles, hired help, etc. I started out apathetic, but ended up enjoying her portrayal of New York City during her childhood and actually getting attached to the quirky characters on her family tree. I was sorry when the CD ended.
Thank heavens for reviews. If I didn't read reviews about this book I may have been disappointed only because of what I thought I was going to get based on the title. The title of this book seems a bit deceiving. You think you are going to be reading about the life of a restaurant. That is not what this book is about although the restaurant business can be seen as the glue or thread that keeps this family together and you do get glimpses of what it was like to own a restaurant. It is about a fam ...more
Dec 15, 2007 Sarah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children of restaurant families
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to the audio book. It was ok, not because of the subject matter, which was very interesting in the beginning. During my teen years I worked in our family coffee shop so I completely related to so much of what she said. The problem was that the book was completely disjointed and there was no real linear progression. She has so many aunts and uncles that she kept describing both at young and old ages and I didn't know who was who and how old they were and, most importantly, how they fit ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Not terrible, but I honestly doubt I'd have stayed with it if I had it in print rather than audio. With the subtitle, I guess I thought there'd be more about time spent in the actual restaurants and the running thereof. For most of the book she devotes one chapter to each eccentric Jewish New York relative, mostly great-aunts and great-uncles but also parents, grandparents, sister, and beloved long-term housekeeper. Parts of it are pretty interesting and/or funny, but I think someone who is Jewi ...more
Trying to describe family members as they truly are, with all their quirks and foibles, while still respecting and loving them can be a tricky thing to balance but Patricia Volk manages to find the perfect mix of love and truth in her book about her Jewish family living in New York City. I adored this book! If I had the talent to write a family history this would be exactly the way I would want to do it. She skips from family member to family member, telling stories about their lives, all the wh ...more
Meh. I'm not sold on the idea that Volk's family was more fascinating than mine or yours. Once you cobble together the achievements of 4 sets of great grandparents, throw in a few Uncles-in-laws, write up some funny stuff your crazy aunt said, it seems that I could grab a random coworker and uncover a family history as rich and interesting as Volks. But she is a New Yorker, and I guess that is supposed to make it more interesting than if your family came from Minnesota or New Mexico.
Patricia Volk's memoir of her family and its 100-year history in the restaurant business is as much a history of New York as it is a recounting of her relatives. Touching, funny, sad, quirky -- this book has it all. Volk is a talented writer with the ability to create a vivid character on the page. I finished this book wishing I'd been part of their clan.
Oct 22, 2007 Beth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves to eat!
Lots of great stories about multiple generations of a Jewish immigrant family that ran restaurants in New York City from the turn of the twentieth century until the late 80s. Funny, touching, insightful--what you want in a memoir, plus lots of scenes of people eating amazing food, junk food, fancy food, mysterious food, etc.
I'm not even 1/2 way through this book and I already hate it. I thought there would be stories about growing up in the resteraunt business, but it is just incessant bragging about how funny/great her family is. Book is aimless and has no point, but a bunch of random family memories. I am not going to finish it.
Patricia Volk's story is uninspiring.

I listened to this book while painting chairs in my garage. It was perfect for that. If someone came in and interrupted, I did not need to pause the book. So what if I missed a paragraph or two? It was mere ramblings of Volk's life. Absolutely nothing earth shattering, no real drama, and the telling of it was mediocre, mundane.

It was sort of like having a chatterbox ramble on keeping me company while I painted so as not to get bored.

I have no problem reading
Jun 13, 2007 Natalie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Yorkers, foodies
Cute family memoir. I love NYC Jewish culture, this book really puts it out there. Also, like the food descriptions. Should eat before reading it for a long time or you'll end craving some strange things, like cucumber salad or fricassee.
I really wanted to like this, for obvious reasons.

I ended up feeling that this was a disjointed work that only tangentially mentioned her family's restaurant business, when I thought it would be the focus of the work.
If you aren't part of her family, this book should have no interest to you. I kept going on this book knowing that it had to get better. It didn't. A complete waste of time.
I listened to audio cd and loved it..probably because of the woman that read it to me !! Loved her voice.
You can't read this book without wanting a pastrami sandwich. Really good and funny.
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This loving and amusing compilation of character studies of Volk's immediate and extended family is knit together rather loosely but convincingly using food as its thread. Though Volk's parents were integral to her maternal grandfather's NYC restaurant, and much of their extended family was, at one time or another, employed by the various restaurants he founded within the city, the bulk of the book only marginally discuss the restaurant life.

Rather, each chapter mentions some sort of food item,
Feb 18, 2008 Esti rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: biography
The Author is brilliant, she's writing down her family journey (and herself) in a wonderful memoir. Every time she mentioned food (from liverwurst,spaetzle, sturgeon, cucumber salad to herseyettes) I get hungry (*smile*) made me wanting to have restaurant family too !!! Not to mention hidden Mattie's chocolate cake recipe inside the book, a little treasure, I will for sure give it a try.

Normally, I'm against spoiler but for this particular book I want to share my favorite part of the book with a
Julie Davis
#60 - 2010.

Picked this up at random at Half Price Books. I have a vague memory of having read it before but that may be inaccurate. You'd think from the name that this would be chock-full of life at a restaurant, whether from a childhood standpoint or adult looking back. Not so. Volk takes us into the lives of her quirky, fascinating relatives and gives us a look back at when individuality was to be expected of everyone. The restaurant was somewhat incidental and was presented as just another qu
I listened to this as an audiobook. Listening to a book, I'm recognizing, is a different experience for me than reading it; I'm curious as to whether my experience is better or worse through the listening. I definitely feel like it's spotty. I'm always sure there are sections I'm missing. This is confirmed when my ipod gets messed up and I'm trying to re-find my place audially and find that there are sections I never remember hearing before sandwiched between sections I know I've heard.
As for th
You would think that a book that claims to be about a restaurant family would have more in it about the actual restaurant. This book was simply a bragfest about the Volk family and how they were the best wreckers in NY, and how they brought pastrami to the New World...blah blah blah.If you want to read about restaurants, keep looking, b/c this one isn't it. If you want to read about the GREAT AND MIGHTY VOLKS, have at it.

But don't say I didn't warn you.
This was a very endearing book that made me laugh and cry and reminisce about a New York that no longer entirely exists. After reading it, I feel like part of the family. I learned about the book while listening to a New York Times Book Review podcast. They were discussing "Shocked," Ms. Volk's more recent memoir, which is more focused on her relationship with her mother. The linchpin in "Stuffed," is Volk's father, but the memoir is essentially a family history held together by food (kind of). ...more
Patricia Volk’s delicious memoir lets us into her big, crazy, loving, cheerful, infuriating and wonderful family, where you’re never just hungry–your starving to death, and you’re never just full–you’re stuffed. Volk’s family fed New York City for one hundred years, from 1888 when her great-grandfather introduced pastrami to America until 1988, when her father closed his garment center restaurant. All along, food was pretty much at the center of their lives. But as seductively as Volk evokes the ...more
This book is not about being in the restaurant business. Maybe 10 pages actually discuss the restaurant. Mostly it is a series of vignettes in chapter form (naming the chapters are food does not make for a food book!). Generally, each chapter is about a person. How great they are, how gorgeous, how clever, how nice or mean, how rich or poor, and how great the author herself is for being nice to said person.

A lot of bragging. The author brags about herself, her parents, her aunts/uncles, her mone
A very loving memoir by the daughter of a well known New York restaurant family. A few very difficult
family members are depicted with great understanding. Special relationship between two sisters
well described. Finished reading the book wishing I could have known the father, an unstoppable
man full of good will, energy, competence and humor.
I read this over the long Christmas weekend and it was a nice way to spend time thinking about family. While reading about all the quirky members of the author's family, I found myself recalling stories about and memories of my own family members--an aunt of some sort about whom all I can remember is the hugeness of her ankles; the grandfather who I met two times when he showed up unannounced and uninvited at my house; the family from upstate New York who have all separately moved to Florida. Th ...more
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December Book 1 4 Nov 07, 2009 10:44AM  
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Patricia Volk is the author of the memoir Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family and four works of fiction. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Bennington College, and has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Playboy. She lives in New York City.
More about Patricia Volk...

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“Sewing on a button, like avoiding eye contact on the subway, is a basic life skill. Along with How to Windex a Mirror and How to Make English Muffin Pizza, sewing on a button was taught in the seventh grade by Miss Almeida in home ec. But home ec isn't on New York school curricula anymore. Home ec has gone the way of health class, where we learned you COULD get it from a doorknob.” 2 likes
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