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Her black boots laced above her ankles. Her skin was talcum white. She ate without taking off her broad-brimmed hat and veil.

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If she caught you staring, the Black Widow would raise the veil and spit at you. Because it was only one block from my grandmother's apartment, we also ate at the Tip Toe Inn. When World War II was over, the day Uncle Bob got back from four and a half years on Saipan, that's where my grandparents took him for his first civilian meal.


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Four and a half years my grandmother wouldn't allow flowers in her apartment. Four and a half years my grandfather was retired from the restaurant business, refusing to buy black-market meat while his boy was overseas. Uncle Bob studied the menu.

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He ordered turkey with stuffing, then took in the scene. The Tip Toe Inn was busy. People ate there all the time. They came at three in the afternoon for dinner because you could get the same meal at lunchtime prices. It was the kind of place you heard people eat and saw people talk.

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Uncle Bob looked around. For four and a half years he'd lived in foxholes. And here were people eating and laughing at the Tip Toe Inn. Uncle Bob raised his water glass, then put it down. His shoulders shook. Tears hit the table. Without a word my grandparents rose from their seats, linked their arms through his, and walked him home. Since my mother knew how to cook only scrambled eggs and bacon, on Mattie's night off we'd eat at her mother's. I'd walk there straight from school and watch Lilly Brebner, the Jamaican housekeeper, singe quills off juicy nine-pound neutered roosters called capons on a gas stove.

Seated around Nana's table would be my great-grandparents; my grandfather; Nana's older sister, Aunt Gertie, and Gertie's son, Wally; her younger sister, Aunt Ruthie, and Aunt Ruthie's husband, Uncle Albert; her older brothers, Uncle Jerry and Uncle Al; Uncle Bob and Aunt Barbara; and since somebody had to be at the store, my mother and my sister and me, but not my father. At these meals my grandmother would force-feed my grandfather: "Eat, Herman, eat!

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Not another bite! The oyster of the capon, a clot of buttered toasted almonds from the string beans, the orphaned strawberry on the shortcake platter, a crimp of piecrust glossy with caramelized apple juice. You don't eat enough! A man like you! You work so hard! Just the end piece, darling? For me, Herman, please? My grandfather was being fattened. It was painful to watch. I worked up the courage to complain about it.


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He wants that food. He wouldn't eat it if she didn't do that. He would never give himself the best part. Not too long ago my sister and mother flew into town for the day. We planned to go to the Russian Tea Room for pelmeny Russia's tiny veal-filled answer to the wonton , then catch a matinee.


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I made the reservation for noon. When we got to the restaurant, the line was out the door. I pushed my way to the maitre d' and explained the situation. I reminded him we had a reservation.

She was wearing a black cape with batwings and a high collar. It was chic, but it threw her gorgeous face into ghoulish shadow and made her neck disappear. Patricia Volk's family, chronicled here from the turn of the century to now, leaves you speechless -- and laughing. In a series of vignettes remarkable for their humor and insight -- Publishers Weekly, Volk portrays a century in the life of a vibrant and eccentric New York family.

Each one of them is a piquant morsel of history. Grandfather Jacob was immortalized by E. White as the greatest wrecker of all time for his innovative approach to demolition. Grandfather Herman Morgen's last of 14 restaurants was a famous hangout in the heart of the colorful garment district until it closed in Above all, it's about how a real family functions. Thomas, The New York Observer "The message of Volk's loopy, generous memoir, Stuffed, is that there is no such thing as too much food or too much feeling.

Stuffed is just what a good restaurant meal should besoaked in atmosphere, full of strong flavors, handsome on the plate. In these gorgeous, generous pages. Show More Show Less.

Stuffed : adventures of a restaurant family

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