10 November 2012

Weekend Cooking: Memoir of the Sunday Brunch by Julia Pandl

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. More information at the welcome post.

Entry into the adult world for the Pandl children occurred on the day each one worked the Sunday brunch alongside Dad, George Pandl. For Julia, that fateful weekend came when she was twelve and was caught watching TV instead of doing something more useful, like playing outside or reading a book.

Most kids would have seen being put to work as cruel and unusual punishment, but Julia, the youngest of nine kids, knew her day was coming and accepted it with pouty grace.

Julia Pandl's Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is a tribute to her parents and to the family business, a restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It'd be safe to say her upbringing was a bit unorthodox (her father let her drive the car by age fourteen), but all those tough Sunday brunches brought her closer to her father and taught her valuable life lessons.

Most of Pandl's memoir focuses on her family life and relates stories about her parents, her place among her siblings, and working in the restaurant. I particularly liked her descriptions of the brunch service. It takes an enormous amount of hard work, and George accepted no excuses for being late or for poor workmanship.

I had to laugh at Pandl's descriptions of the food eaten at home. As she herself mentions, the cobbler's kids are always barefoot. In a like way, the Pandl kids were often subjected to out-of-date restaurant food Dad just could bear to throw away. I'm surprised no one died of food poisoning.

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is short, heart-felt memoir that is neither inspirational nor sentimental. Julia Pandl's family life was just different enough to make for interesting and sometimes funny stories, without verging into the realm of craziness. My only complaint is that I wish more of the book had been set in the Bayside restaurant.

Algonquin Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Executive Editor Chuck Adams's introductory letter, posted here on January 7, 2011.

Buy Memoir of the Sunday Brunch at an indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by Workman / Algonquin Books, November 13, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781616201722

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 11/10/12, 6:27 AM  

I used to eat at their restaurant! What I remember the most is that they would hang half oranges in the trees outside the restaurant windows to attract birds. It would be fun to read the book!

Uniflame 11/10/12, 6:42 AM  

Sounds like a fun short read inbetween heavier reads :)

jama 11/10/12, 7:01 AM  

Always interesting to learn more about the workings of a restaurant. Will add this to my TBR list. Thanks!

Tina 11/10/12, 7:03 AM  

Funny how hard work shapes a child's upbringing. Some of the most interesting memoirs, foodie wise, come from unconventional childhoods...Gabrielle Hamilton who wrote Blood, Bones and Butter comes to mind.
I will certainly be on the lookout for this one from my library.

jama 11/10/12, 7:42 AM  

Sorry, left the wrong link the first time.

caite 11/10/12, 7:53 AM  

how cool that rhapsodyinbooks ate there!!

I used to work in my family's bar when I was a kid...and a teenager..and an adult.
Maybe I should write a book!

Anonymous,  11/10/12, 8:38 AM  

Sounds fun! I worked in restaurants all through high school and college, so I know how crazy the lifestyle can be. I think I would enjoy this one.

Esme 11/10/12, 10:25 AM  

thanks for reviewing this-I have been wanting to read it.

Joy Weese Moll 11/10/12, 12:24 PM  

What an interesting way to grow up!

And, I definitely think caite should write a book!

Margot 11/10/12, 1:17 PM  

I like these kinds of memoirs. It's fun finding out how other people grew up, ate, worked, and so forth. I'll see if I can find this one.

Carole 11/10/12, 2:24 PM  

Thanks, it is always hard to know which memoirs are worth reading. I have linked in 2 things today - hope that is ok. Have a lovely week.

Linda 11/10/12, 4:26 PM  

I've seen this one around. It sounds great. I'm going to keep an eye out for it.

Laurie C 11/10/12, 4:54 PM  

Nice review! I've got my review of this scheduled to post soon! I was going to use it for a Weekend Cooking post too. Darn, you beat me to it! I enjoyed the book too, and agree that it would have been nice to hear more about the restaurant.

Heather S-G 11/10/12, 7:53 PM  

I have this book on my to-read stand! It's up next after the one I'm currently reading...can't wait, sounds good.

Teddyree 11/10/12, 11:17 PM  

Sounds good, I like foodie memoirs. This is my first time participating in Weekend Cooking, thanks for having me. I'm off to check out the other blogs :)

Charlie 11/11/12, 5:37 AM  

I like the sound of this, the work and family themes are appealing. I'm guessing the restaurant still exists?

Beth F 11/11/12, 6:57 AM  

@Charlie: Unfortunately, the restaurant closed just when the memoir was published.

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/11/12, 9:28 AM  

My husband and I owned two fast food restaurants, so this is a book I definitely must read.

Cecelia 11/11/12, 11:22 AM  

I love that their test of 'coming of age' was to help in the restaurant kitchen - it sounds like a unique read. I'm sure I'd love the descriptions of food and cooking!

Utpal Khot 11/11/12, 2:42 PM  


Julie P. 11/11/12, 7:43 PM  

I just got this one and might have to give it a try!

Heather 11/11/12, 10:08 PM  

I guess it's not the unusual to work in the family business. I used to help at my dad's garage typing bills and addressing envelopes.

Daryl 11/12/12, 8:18 AM  

no food this week but I did link back to you ...

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