Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family Review
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A great grandfather who, as part of an innocent barter deal, received the recipe that made it possible for the world to order a pastrami on rye.

A grandfather who became a demolition expert and was heralded as “the greatest wrecker of all time,” according to E.B. White.

An uncle, the first to combine scallions and cream cheese.

And her own father, the inventor of the six-color retractable pen and pencil set as well as the double-sided cigarette lighter.

And that’s just the male side of the family.

Patricia Volk’s Stuffed, Adventures of a Restaurant Family is a highly entertaining look at what constitutes a family of overachievers. While busy discovering, creating and inventing, they also ran more than a dozen New York restaurants over several generations.

Volk prepares the vignettes in this book with amazing insight, then serves them up with wit and humor. While exposing the eccentricities of her family, she brings out the charm but also does not try to hide the darker side. She lets us in on the endearing qualities of a grandfather who finds loopholes in his convictions so as to allow him to eat liverwurst, then brings to light the fact that this same man routinely beat his son.

Patricia Volk, not to be outdone by her family, has herself done something quite remarkable. Along with some of the finest prose I’ve read in a long while, she has found a way to tell her family’s story without apologies, bitterness or sugar-coating, and she does it with humor and honesty. This is rare in today’s memoir-glutted market.

Read brilliantly by Barbara Rosenblat, this book was meant to be heard. I’m sure the print version, with its inclusion of many family recipes, is a wonderful addition to anyone’s library but listening to Rosenblat’s rendering of Volk’s work is not to be missed. Each character becomes distinct, each accent and nuance. You’ll swear you’re in The Big Apple just sitting down to coffee and a bagel.

Stuffed is a scrumptious meal you will hate to see come to an end. Available on both CD and cassette in its unabridged version—8.5 hours.

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