Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen

Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen

by Donia Bijan


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Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan

For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. In 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran threatened their safety, they fled to California’s Bay Area, where the familiar flavors of Bijan’s mother’s cooking formed a bridge to the life they left behind. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.

From the Persian world of her youth to the American life she embraced as a teenager to her years at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (studying under the infamous Madame Brassart) to apprenticeships in France’s three-star kitchens and finally back to San Francisco, where she opened her own celebrated bistro, Bijan evokes a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures and cuisines. And she shares thirty inspired recipes from her childhood (Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant and Orange Cardamom Cookies), her French training (Ratatouille with Black Olives and Fried Bread and Purple Plum Skillet Tart), and her cooking career (Roast Duck Legs with Dates and Warm Lentil Salad and Rose Petal Ice Cream).

An exhilarating, heartfelt memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie is also a reminder of the women who encourage us to shine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565129573
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 10/11/2011
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 354,038
Product dimensions: 8.42(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Donia Bijan is the author of the novel The Last Days of Café Leila and the memoir Maman’s Homesick Pie. She graduated from UC Berkeley and Le Cordon Bleu. After presiding over many of San Francisco's acclaimed restaurants and earning awards for her French-inspired cuisine, in 1994 she opened her own restaurant, L'amie Donia, in Palo Alto. Since closing her restaurant, she divides her days between teaching and writing.

Read an Excerpt

Maman's Homesick Pie

By Donia Bijan


Copyright © 2011 Donia Bijan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-56512-957-3

Chapter One

THE TEHRAN OF my childhood was cosmopolitan and multicultural, bearing little resemblance to our Western notion of contemporary Iran—that of a fearful nation beneath the glare of clerics and Revolutionary Guards. I was born in a hospital built brick by brick by my father. Fresh out of medical school, he combined a loan with all of his savings to buy land in undeveloped Tehran and open his own hospital. He was a sought-after obstetrician and knew that if he built the hospital, the patients would come. And they did. At all hours of the night, frantic husbands would pound on the iron gate while their pregnant wives howled in the darkness, waiting for Doktor to rush out in his robe and slippers to let them in.

My mother, a registered nurse and midwife schooled in England, had returned home to Tehran in 1952. Some years earlier, in 1945, just as the war ended, my grandparents had sent their eighteen-year-old daughter to England. She flew to London from a one-room airport speaking only two words of English: good and hello. My grandfather had arranged for an escort to meet her upon her arrival. My mother thought the taxi driver who held the car door open and greeted her, Hello, love, need a lift? was her escort. She got the hello part and hopped in the back, expecting him to know where to go. He didn't, so she directed him: Good hotel! The cabby wasn't taking any chances, so he dropped her off at the Grosvenor House.

My mother could not tell this story without throwing her head back to laugh out loud. In her first twenty-four hours away from home, Britain welcomed her in pomp and glory. Imagine her awe when the bellboy opened the door to a room with gilded mirrors and dark wood paneling, the downy duvet and tasseled cushions, the bathtub with gold fixtures. After studying a room-service menu on the bedside table, she pointed to the ice cream from the pictured items. And here she would stop to lick her lips before continuing her story:

My dears, I opened the door to find a young man in a tuxedo and white gloves holding a silver tray upon which sat a tall crystal goblet with three perfect balls of vanilla ice cream, and a ladyfinger perched on top. He said, Good evening, ma'am. I said, Hello. He marched inside, snapped open a starched white place mat, set my ice cream down with a small glass of water, a napkin, and a tall spoon. Then he turned and asked me if I cared for breakfast the next morning. I said, Good. He bowed and left. Oh, that was the best ice cream I've ever had!

The next morning, there was a knock on the door, and a silver trolley was wheeled in. Apparently the war had not depleted the Grosvenor House of their supply of eggs, sausages, butter, toast, and marmalade. Bewildered, she lifted up the silver domes one by one and ate her first English breakfast. Good!

After checking with every hotel in London, her escort tracked her down. She got the call from the desk and was soon counting out a stack of pounds from an envelope her father had carefully pinned inside her coat pocket. After that day, there wouldn't be any more ice cream and marmalade. The boardinghouse where she was to stay at her nursing school rationed their staples; sugar, butter, and eggs were luxuries.

What my mother left out of her stories from this period in her life was the homesickness she must have carried around like a stone in her stomach. After growing up with the affection and endearments that my grandmother wove even into her reproaches, my mother was now met with the stiff upper lip of her British matron overseer. For the first six months, my mother struggled with English, memorizing her nursing textbooks without understanding a word. Matron would rap her knuckles on the door when she saw the band of light in the dim dormitory hallway: Lights out! My mother learned to place a rolled-up towel under the door and read by candlelight. Once a week, she watched her classmates wash their hair in the sink. She had never done this, being used to baths, her mother scrubbing her back and combing out the tangled curls. When Matron gave her a bottle of shampoo, she had no idea what it was—she had always washed her hair with big cakes of soap. So she learned to fill the sink with water that ran cold and shampoo her hair—a task made far more difficult by her thick locks, which never quite dried in the damp air.

Slowly the memorized texts, Matron's commands, and the chatter by the fire in the common room began to make sense. She started stringing words together to make sentences, and English found a way into her speech. And in the meantime she mastered sink baths, learned to make her sugar and tea ration last through the week, figured out how to start a proper fire, and began to knit hats and tea cozies.

The girl from Iran was a quick study. She may not have known it then, but she was predisposed to the British brand of feminism, self-reliant and matter-of-fact, which had taken root in her. In Iran, despite her father's mild protest, she had walked every morning to tennis courts and swimming pools miles from her home. Not wanting the whole town gossiping about his daughter alone in the streets, he required that she be accompanied by one of her brothers. To this day, my uncle complains about how she used to shake him out of sleep at five thirty and stick a toothbrush in his mouth: Wake up! Wake up! Brush your teeth! Wash your face! I'm going to be late! She dragged him half-asleep and whimpering through dark streets for the hour-and-a-half walk across town, cutting off his slightest whine with, Nonsense! A bit of fresh air and a brisk walk never killed anyone!

Once she could speak the language, she didn't hesitate to find ways to do what she wanted to do in England, like learning to drive and acquiring her driver's license, and cycling all over Europe on her school holidays, oblivious to the fleets of men who followed her. She boasted of one suitor who inquired about her favorite flower, then went to Holland to bring her a small, exquisite bouquet of lily of the valley. She dismissed him simply as daft. On a very tight budget, she managed to satisfy her passion for classical music by skipping meals to attend concerts, swaying in the standing room. I doubt she would have sat down even if she'd had orchestra seats. Years later, at the symphony in Tehran, I watched her perched on the very edge of her seat while my father's chin sunk further into his chest. How can you possibly sleep through Beethoven? she chided him.

As a child I used to stare at the black-and-white photos from her years in England: A slim girl in a fitted white nurse's smock, a dark wool cape clasped with a metal brooch at the base of her long neck, and dark curls tucked beneath a white cap. Resting her hands on the bicycle handlebars, she is beaming. In other photos with classmates, turning to the camera, she is the only one smiling, compensating for the joylessness of the others. She would never squander this abundance of liberty.

She returned home seven years later, a stunning woman who spoke the Queen's English, listened to classical music turned up very loud on her little hi-fi, smoked Winston cigarettes, kept a bust of Beethoven on her dresser, and carried a British driver's license in her purse. Soon after her return, she was working in a university hospital when she ran into my father in the elevator. He stood behind her, inches away from the slender curve of her shoulders, her dark hair gathered in a braided bun under her crisp nursing cap. My father was smitten. My mother soon charmed him with her no-nonsense disposition, her rapid one-two step down the hospital corridors, and her cool indifference to men. Within days he was knocking on my grandfather's door, asking for her hand.

The usual custom in Iran requires a suitor to send his parents to make a formal request for marriage, khastegari. My father, however, was never one to abide by custom. He considered himself independent of convention. Besides, if he had confided in his family and friends that he planned to ask for my mother's hand, they would have mocked his rash judgment and discouraged him from pursuing a girl from a family so far out of his league. But my grandfather, wary of another suitor he did not approve of, hovering in the wings, received my father kindly. He was invited to dinner and encouraged to bring his family elders.

Not wanting his family to speak on his behalf, since his father had passed away and his mother lived in northern Iran, he arrived without elders, dapper in a gray tailor-made suit and polished black patent leather shoes, a white satin handkerchief in his breast pocket. His trim mustache and sparkling blue eyes under the awning of thick eyebrows gave the impression of amusement. He charmed my grandmother, who was warm and lovely and an excellent cook. She, in turn, prepared a feast, as she often did for guests, and made one of his favorite dishes, mirza ghasemi, a rich eggplant appetizer she served with yogurt and fresh herbs. My grandparents welcomed his confidence, and my mother's youngest brother quickly fell under his spell, leaving only my mother's heart to conquer.

My mother found him terribly handsome with his bright blue eyes, uncommon for an Iranian, and she admired his mad independence from custom. She had grown impatient with her childhood sweetheart, who was afraid of her father and had postponed a proposal indefinitely. My father's persistence, and the courageous plans he had drawn up for their future to work as a team, disarmed her. I imagine he conjured images of precocious sons with blue eyes, a hospital where they would live and work side by side, and a garden with mulberry trees for his children to climb. Not long after the dinner with my grandparents, he called one afternoon to get her final answer to his proposal. My mother hesitated a moment too long and he took her silence as a yes. Within minutes, the doorbell rang and a young boy he had dispatched carried in a magnificent bouquet of white lilies and roses so large that his knees buckled under its weight. Years later, whenever my mother and father argued, she would always remind him that she had never actually said yes. My grandparents made elaborate wedding plans, booking the Officers' Club, ordering a seven-tiered wedding cake, buying new suits for my uncles. While the guest list soared to over a thousand, my mother found herself caught in a whirlwind with very little say. So when she went for the final fitting of her wedding dress, she insisted on just one thing, to wear her nursing cap under her veil.

By the time the hospital was built in 1960, my parents were teamed up, working feverishly delivering babies, and had two daughters of their own. The Bijan Hospital was a four-story building at the end of a nameless dirt road. When the street was finally paved, the city named it after my father. Years later, a Sheraton was built down the street, and slowly this road that butted up against a barren landscape became a coveted address.

It was on the penthouse floor of the Bijan Hospital that my sisters and I grew up. I was born three stories below, in the same operating room where many of my cousins and friends were delivered—a room my father urged us to visit. He had great hopes that we would be inspired to follow his path, but I was terrified by the wailing of women in labor.

In the penthouse, our bedrooms were side by side along a white corridor with bleached terrazzo floors and fluorescent lights. At the far end of the corridor was our living and dining room. We didn't find it odd that muffled moans and the smell of formaldehyde would drift through the vents, but my friends who came to play would gawk at the patients walking the grounds of our home in their hospital gowns. At the urging of my mother, the patients even joined us for cake at our birthday parties. One friend was eventually forbidden to come to our house because his mother worried he might catch something.

The nurses doubled as our babysitters. Nurse Aghdas was our favorite, a quasi Mary Poppins with a chipped front tooth. She organized relay races in the corridors, dressed us up as doctors and nurses, taught us first aid, and dispensed bandages and cough lozenges with abandon. And when, at thirteen, I decided to pluck my eyebrows without my mother's consent, she supplied me with the pair of tweezers that I still use today, although she bore my mother's wrath for the gift.

All the bedrooms opened to a long, narrow balcony that faced the hospital gardens. The first day of summer, we moved our beds to the balcony and slept there until the first day of fall. We hauled out the dining room table as well, allowing us to eat summer meals outside. I loved sleeping outdoors, where the sheets on my sunburned shoulders were cool from the night air, where we woke to the sound of Baba the gardener's hacking cough and the spray of his garden hose. I loved the hospital grounds, where I learned to swim in a shallow green pool by tiptoeing farther and farther along its kidney-shaped rim. In the winter when the pool froze, I begged my mother to allow me to go ice-skating, to no avail. Nevertheless, I sat on the edge to let my feet shuffle and glide, gathering the shaved ice with mittened hands for pretend ice cream cones. In spring I scooped up tadpoles in jam jars from its green, murky mush. In early summer, when the pool was drained to be cleaned, Baba hopped in, wearing tall rubber boots. I watched and counted the strokes of his deck brush, listening to the back-and-forth scrape, scrape. It would take him all day to scrub the walls, and by early evening he would climb out, throw a hose over the side, and turn it on full blast. The slow rise and sound of the water continued through my bedtime. I would wake up and lean over the balcony to be the first to see it in the morning light, longing to go for a swim, annoyed by the one or two leaves that already marred its sparkling surface. When my father took the training wheels off my bike, it was around that pool that I rode, with him running alongside.

My father managed to balance his work and family life. The hospital grounds provided us with endless hours of exploration and entertainment. Coming home one day from visiting a patient, he had seen a peddler beating his donkey with a stick. He stopped to reason with the man, but offering to buy the donkey seemed to be the only way to stop the man from abusing it. So he gave him directions to the hospital and drove away, pleased with himself for rescuing the animal and providing his children with a pet that they could ride and feed and whose mane they could braid with their mother's knitting yarn. That afternoon, Baba opened the gate to find the peddler and his battered donkey asking for my father. Baba explained that Doktor was not a veterinarian, but agreed to call him. By then my father had laid the groundwork for introducing my mother to our new pet: I couldn't very well stand by and watch an innocent beast beaten, could I? After paying the peddler, Baba pulled the donkey by the rope around its neck to the garden, where my father lined us up for our surprise. No sooner had Baba shut the gate than the donkey jerked back on the makeshift bridle and snapped at his arm, then turned and bucked, knocking Baba, a lean, six-foot-three man, to the ground. Those two never got along after that. In fact, none of us could go near the ornery animal. My father had rescued him too late. Can I have a horse instead? I asked my mother that night. Thus he became my father's pet and was simply named Khar, which means "donkey" in Farsi. For weeks, my father stopped at the greengrocer for wilted heads of lettuce for Khar, prompting satire on social inequality in the local paper by a columnist who had overheard their exchange. The article began, Ah, to be the pampered ass of Dr. Bijan, with a daily menu of butter lettuce hearts and sugar beet tops, hand-selected by the good doctor himself, and so on. My mother had had enough. She donated Khar to a park, where the groundskeeper managed to put a saddle on him and offer rides to children for a nickel. A few weeks later, we got a tamer pet: a big black poodle named Sasha. And in winter, my mother knitted him a red turtleneck.


Excerpted from Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan Copyright © 2011 by Donia Bijan. Excerpted by permission of ALGONQUIN BOOKS OF CHAPEL HILL. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Author's Note....................xi
Persian Cardamom Tea....................7
Orange Cardamom Cookies....................8
Chapter 1....................9
Pomegranate Granita....................26
Sour Cherry Upside-Down Cake....................28
Chapter 2....................31
Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant....................42
My Mother's Quince Marmalade....................45
Chapter 3....................47
My Mother's Bread Stuffing....................63
Persimmon Parfait....................66
Chapter 4....................69
Braised Chicken with Persian Plums....................81
Cinnamon Date Bars....................83
Chapter 5....................87
Sweet and Sour Grape Leaf Dolmas with Jeweled Rice....................100
Madame's Cocoa Pound Cake....................104
Chapter 6....................107
My Mother's Pot Roast....................118
Fava Bean Omelet....................121
Chapter 7....................125
Straw Potato and Muenster Galette....................140
Roast Rabbit with Whole Grain Mustard and Rosemary....................142
Chapter 8....................145
Ratatouille with Black Olives and Fried Bread....................156
Duck à l'Orange....................159
Chapter 9....................163
Potato Waffles with Crème Fraîche....................175
Salmon Gravlax with Meyer Lemon and Tarragon....................178
Chapter 10....................181
Purple Plum Skillet Tart....................197
Tomato Confit....................200
Chapter 11....................203
Roast Duck Legs with Dates and Warm Lentil Salad....................213
Rose Petal Ice Cream....................216
Chapter 12....................219
Roasted Stuffed Quince with Fennel Sausage and Currants....................226
Cardamom Honey Madeleines....................229
Chapter 13....................233
Rice Pudding....................237
Pistachio Brittle....................239
Chapter 14....................241
My Mother's Apple Pie....................245
Cherry Slushy....................249
Special Thanks....................251

What People are Saying About This

Firoozeh Dumas

“I can already feel the big heart in this story, the delicious recipes, and the story of an amazing woman whom we all wish we had known.” —Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi

From the Publisher

“Bijan discovers a way back to home and what it means to belong. A memoir both universal and intimate, anchored in history and lifted by the mysterious elements that only occur in a warm and inviting kitchen.” —Marsha Mehran, author of Pomegranate Soup

“I can already feel the big heart in this story, the delicious recipes, and the story of an amazing woman whom we all wish we had known.” —Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi
“Treat yourself to this delectable debut. Bijan recounts her journey from well-off Iranian schoolgirl to teenager in America taking refuge from her country’s upheaval to restaurateur and mom. But ultimately this memoir is a loving tribute to her mother, her heritage—and food. Pour yourself a cup of cardamom tea (recipe included), and indulge in this savory slice of life.” —Family Circle

“Chapter by chapter, Bijan recreates the memory-menu of her life, incorporating recipes for the dishes that most poignantly capture the past for her. By its heart-plucking end, this literary feast accomplishes what only the best meals do, bestowing not only a satisfying culinary experience but also a larger appreciation of life’s precious table.”—National Geographic Traveler

"I closed the book feeling like the author had just been sharing memories and recipes with her many friends of the world, and that I was now one of them."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

"In its profound understanding of how food connects us to the past and future and to the places and people we love, Maman's Homesick Pie gets to the very heart of why recipes and food—and the stories we tell about them—matter so much."—Literary Mama

"Maman's Homesick Pie is one of the best food memoirs I have read . . . The recipes at the end of each chapter add surprising depth to her story."—Largehearted Boy
“The push-pull of Ms. Bijan’s relationship with her parents during their grief as she came of age will feel familiar to many readers, but the details of Ms. Bijan’s life will not.”—The New York Review of Books

“A lyrical memoir by an acclaimed San Francisco chef.” —St. Petersburg Times

“The memoir smoothly combines stories of Bijan's childhood in Iran and transitions to life in America with pieces of her parents' lives, and the family's migrations after the loss of their homeland… They are the quietly compelling stories of an ordinary family dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Memories of family are inextricably linked to food — the smells, the flavors, the look and feel of a dish — and Bijan brings foods both mundane and exotic to life in the pages.”
–Wichita Eagle

“An elegant memoir.” –Hudson Valley News

“In Bijan’s skillful hands ... recipes become a storytelling medium, and Maman’s Homesick Pie is at once a compelling portrait of her remarkable Iranian parents, a chronicle of her culinary career from a stagiaire (an unpaid apprenticeship) in France to award-winning chef and restaurateur in Palo Alto, and a lavish taste of Persian culture and cuisine... A compelling, poignant and most delectable book.” —BookPage online

A “wonderfully written memoir ... so well rendered ... Bijan writes movingly of her parents' accomplishments, their difficulty adjusting to their new home, and her own burgeoning love of food and cooking ... Like the perfect dessert, each chapter ends with recipes.”—Publishers Weekly

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Maman's Homesick Pie 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir to savor. It's a breath-taking account of a young woman who lived the life of a cherished and richly encompassed child of the world at large. I became spellbound by Donia Bijan's life story immediately, and found myself holding my breath as I grasped her book, not wanting to read it slowly, but speeding through its pages like a delicious crepe filled with Turkish coffee ice cream. While Ms Bijan's memoir is captivating in and of itself, her exotic recipes included at the end of chapters are both slightly tipped with the savory and screaming to be tried in one's own kitchen. I can hardly wait to try her Cardamom Honey Madeleines. Proustians everywhere know of his love affair with Madeleines to begin with, so her distinctive twist of cardamom with trying out farmers' market honeys makes this recipe irresistible to me. We have a great farmers' market in Naples. Not to mention that I have a fabulous Madeleine pan I've never used! What I found intriguing among so many things about this memoir is the tone of her literary "voice." I suppose I expected a lilting celebration of food and family...a "warm and inviting kitchen" experience as expressed on the cover review. Instead, Ms Bijan's telling of her past life as a refugee from revolutionary-torn Iran, to the shores of a hip and culturally shocking San Francisco, and an unimaginably glorious but difficult training in the bowels of kitchens in Paris, France, is somewhat maudlin. It's reflective. I found it a surprise, and a powerful memoir for that reason. Food, studying the art of food preparation and restauranteering isn't what's important in her memoir, it seems to me. What is important is the underlying story of trials, family obligations and examples of dedication to others, of loving and sharing gifts through food, of finding wholeness within the simplicity of homemade and close-to-home foods and ingredients that are discovered. Food was the life-blood of Donia's family. It is also the foundation of her heritage,where she is today, and where her son and future generations are going. It was significant to me that her mother was not only a central figure in Donia's learning the importance of food and cooking, but she was a strong role-model: a midwife, a women's liberation advocate, a tireless volunteer in wartime, a teacher, a woman of grace and celebration, a needlewoman, a mother and devoted wife. Her mother didn't show her the example of taking the easy road in life, of failing to show up and give ones best efforts. It's obvious in Donia's life. I highly recommend this book of many trips through a life that's magical and meaningful. There is much I've left out because there's so much in this memoir, beautifully told, never boring--quite the opposite--like a teatime set with Brussels lace on a silver tray holding lemon tea steeped in a china pot draped in a knitted cozy...side served with a plate of freshly baked cardamom Madeleines; this book will be in your hands until the last perfect word is read.
CookforGood More than 1 year ago
Persian cooks love surprises, tucking delightful tangy fillings in innocent looking dumplings enrobed in pale yogurt and sweetening tomato sauces with dried plums. Sophisticated and satisfying, Persian cuisine deserves a far greater audience. I hope Donia Bijan's sophisticated and satisfying memoir receives the broad audience it deserves as well. Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen provides surprises and unexpected depths. Bijan loves the idea of "making things, the alchemy of putting things together." She enriches each chapter with tempting recipes, so you can cook along with the story. Some of the most poignant writing deals with her desire to become a chef instead of a doctor, which her father found "preposterous." Part Ratatouille, part CNN, Maman's Homesick Pie looks at the challenges of growing up to be your true self and of representing your birth country in sometimes-hostile territory.
SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
Cardamom. What IS cardamom, and where do I buy it? This is one of the first questions to plague me as I read this memoir by Donia Bijan, an accomplished chef with a life story that is as fascinating as it is bittersweet. Initially, I hesitated before I began reading, as the last few memoirs I've read have been sort of "blah". And when I saw that this book contains recipes, I thought that was a cutesy gimmick, as I once read a mystery that had recipes enclosed, which annoyed me to no end (yes, I get easily annoyed). However, I curled up with it on a recent rainy day and couldn't put it down. It's lovely. Really. Bijan writes in a natural pace, and her stories brims with poignant details. It begins with the tragic death of her mother, and her task of going through her mother's objects. The task is dreary until she finds her mother's collection of recipes clipped from newspapers or on cards from friends. At this point, she finds the theme that ties her life to her mother's: food. As a chef, the recipe cards she finds are revealing because they show how her mother, exiled from Iran, tried to adapt to American life at a time when being from Iran was a cause for suspicion. Going back to the beginning, Bijan recounts her childhood experiences of living in the hospital that her father built. While he was a successful doctor in Iran (and devoted foodie on his own), her mother was head nurse and cook for the patients. Bijan and her sisters assisted their parents and were an active part of hospital life. The nature of food in that hospital was not simple of sustenance but of comfort; meals were designed to be shared, lingered over, and enjoyed as a communal activity. is it really $47 for a 2 ounce bottle? After her parents are exiled, Bijan goes to school in the US and later to Paris where she is trained at the Cordon Bleu. As she remains close to her mother, her relationship with her father is strained as he envisioned a future for her more prestigious than that of a chef. Bijan works in the field, rising to the top of San Francisco's cooking scene before deciding to return to France to work as an apprentice to hone her craft further. At all points of her story, food is always treated as a purposeful endeavor; the composition of a home-made meal the ultimate display of love and attentiveness. The recipes included are those that tie into each story, and there is nothing gimmicky about them. Several I have earmarked to try. But nothing tops the story itself-it is heartwarming and genuinely lovely to read. Definitely a feel-good story and I seriously think it would be a great gift for a foodie friend. It can't be denied that Bijan's life was one of privilege: her parents were wealthy and she pretty much was able to undertake whatever opportunities appealed to her. But her hard work and self-sacrifice keeps the reader from feeling that her life was an exception. But to illustrate, at one point she describes life in Paris where she is toiling under brutal teachers at Cordon Bleu: "Most evenings, on my way home, I would stop to buy half a baguette, then heard to the fromagerie for a wedge of cheese I had never tasted, and finally go to the produce stand for a single peach, or two figs, maybe a tomato." Maybe that is supposed to sound minimal, but being that it's Paris, PARIS (!!!!), it sounds impossibly elegant. In all seriousness, a fromagerie isn't exactly in the strip mall in town.
NWO13 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and didn't want it to end. It was steeped in details that made me feel like I was a part of the story. I laughed, I cried and savored each word as though it was the last bite of a favorite meal. I can hardly wait for her next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poignant memoir that shouldn't be missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book! Can't wait to try some of the recepies. The story flowed easily and was an enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is filled with great recipes and a truly homey feeling to it.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Maman's Homesick Pie is Donia Bijan's very personal memoir of being forced to leave her home in Iran as a teenager during the revolution in the 1970's. The story begins with her charming, quirky and busy childhood. Her parents built a hospital and almost singlehandedly ran it, doctoring, cooking, bandaging, and administering all while raising their family in an apartment on the top floor. It continues through her family's exhile to the US, her own struggles to become a chef and her mother and father's struggles to find a place for themselves in America. This is a lighthearted memoir despite touching on the Iranian Revolution and her father's emotional displacement. Donia and her mother comfort themselves and create homes around the food they remember and new dishes they invent. Everything is seen through the prism of food and the descriptions are lush and nostalgic. The recipes look both relatively simple and appealingly exotic. Maman's Homesick Pie will satisfy the many fans of food memoirs with its warmth, generosity, and lovely food writing.
ljari More than 1 year ago
delicious. Can't wait to try the recipes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long reviews are very boring. Please stop it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago