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Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,504 ratings  ·  185 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
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Audiobook, 0 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,504 ratings  ·  185 reviews


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Rebecca
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) This is a family memoir first and a foodie memoir second. The chapters may be named after signature dishes, but each one is devoted to a different member of the extended Morgen’s restaurant dynasty of New York City Jews and designated by a featured family photograph. Within chapters the material is arranged in short vignettes, giving Volk a chance to dredge up everything she has heard or remembers about the Lithuanian great-grandfather who introduced pastrami to America, or the grandfather ...more
Paul
Nov 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 colorful...at 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 room...it was so annoying. this book is probably a hoot if you're a member of the author's family but for me, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Bibliolicious
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
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Jocelyn
Jul 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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.
Alison
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Book Concierge
I thought this memoir would be about running a restaurant, full of funny and perhaps poignant anecdotes. But it's really about love and family relationships. The chapters on her father are especially touching and memorable. I'm very glad I read this work.
Beth
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Selma
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Heidi
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bee
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, read-in-2015
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.
Maxwell Brogan

“The love from your family is life's greatest blessing.” Patricia Volk and her stories of her family really prove this quote from her grandmother's recipes to her grandfather's numerous injuries. My family may not be as big as hers, but my family is a big part of my life like hers.
One story of her family is when her brother lost his taste and loved his mother's eggs ”Her chopped egg is her brother's favorite food in the world… He says it up, pileing crackers high. Years later, when he’d when he
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Dree
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
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Sarah
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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 (Again)
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
David
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.
pianogal
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.
Beth
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Lain
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Natalie
Jun 13, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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.
Lori
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can't read this book without wanting a pastrami sandwich. Really good and funny.
Ryan
Aug 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Leslie
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to audio cd and loved it..probably because of the woman that read it to me !! Loved her voice.
Nicholle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trina
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Stuffed by Patricia Volk was one of those books I couldn't finish reading.

As a reader, if I am struggling with a novel, I try twice to give it a chance to wiggle its way into my heart. Stuffed is one of those novels that had the change and doesn't make the cut. The appeal to ead about a restaurant family includes the restaurant and less about the interpersonal relationships in a family.

I am a narrative reader, and in this book, the train of thought is a cataclysmic mess, with stream of conscious
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Luke Johnson
So I made mistake of thinking that with a subtitle of "Adventures of a Restaurant Family" what I would be getting would be a lot of behind the scenes daily life about a restaurant, a passion for food, oddball kitchen workers, stuff like that. What I actually got? Very little of that but lots and lots of stories about a Jewish family, who according to the author, is very famous but I've never heard of any of them. It was very confusing for me at times because one minute they are talking about how ...more
Bradford Robert
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bradford by: Albert A. Volk (deceased)
This is one of the few delightful books I have ever read (I have read a lot of very good books!). The writing style is beautiful; as smoothe as virgin olive oil.

It is the story of a highly idiosyncratic family which, although of some "means", seems also to be ethical. Item: Man who owned a building demolition company and who never sent an employee anywhere he would not himself go. Almost every page is something, for myself, very amusing and also incisive. Great sociology of everyday life.

These p
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Beth Gordon
I expected this to very different than it was. I expected lots of "scenes from a restaurant" - eccentric long-time customers, wacky situations that happened at the restaurant, etc.

This is basically a woman talking about her (mostly) older, eccentric relatives. We could probably all write our own memoir about that, so I was pretty disappointed by this memoir because I had way different expectations.
Janis
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Volk’s memoir is a funny, honest, warm, and moving profile of three generations of a New York restaurant family, ranging from the great-grandfather who introduced pastrami to New York to Aunt Ruthie (held hostage in her Bronx apartment, she fed her attacker, then told him, “When you go to prison, take out some books.”) to her beloved sister (made me wish I had one). A delight!
Jane
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a lot of reading. And felt like a lot of set up going through the various significant foodstuffs and family members. But the final two chapters are magnificent. They're jam packed full of emotion. And are beautiful.
Lorna McGlynn
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Related to this series of stories so much! Loved the family dynamics and the love/respect for every family member that oozed through each page. The recipes sounded great, too.
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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.

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