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

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,301 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
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 g ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2001)
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Rebecca Foster
(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
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
Nov 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
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....

Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 05, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
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
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoirs, ebook
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.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I listened to audio cd and loved it..probably because of the woman that read it to me !! Loved her voice.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
You can't read this book without wanting a pastrami sandwich. Really good and funny.
Aug 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
given the title I thought it would deal more with the restaurant side of her family but that entered into it very little. still, she seems to have had an interesting family & it was a good read
Lorna McGlynn
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Nancy Wieme
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
As I said to my sister while trying to describe this book... it is NOTHING like our family, it is EVERYTHING like our family. What a joy to read!!
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Julie Davis
Jun 23, 2010 rated it liked it
#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
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December Book 1 5 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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