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Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 11, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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


“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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565129571
  • ASIN: B0078XOFYO
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,616,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Lanz on September 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is rich, part memoir, part cookbook, part travelogue, it is the story of Donia Bijan's journey from emigre to restaurateur, sincere and beautifully written. Her stories are similar to the stories I heard as a student at UCLA from Persian students and their parents who had to start again in a new country. She draws interesting pictures of her family, especially her parents, their marriage and life through good and bad times. Her collection of memories is sad, sweet, tart and as delicious as the mouth-watering recipes she includes. Her training at the Cordon Bleu is a rare look into the school's rigorous (and dangerous) training method in its final year with Madame Brassart, Julia Child's nemesis. This is a story about the things that appeal to all of us, travel, good food and love of family. It is a warm and lovely look at her life, the love she felt for her mother, and her ability to find a way to get what she wants out of life. Maman's Homesick Pie is not to be missed!
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
As a child growing up in pre-revolution Iran, Donia Bijan did not realize that the lavish lifestyle of her parents and her progressive education at an international school were not necessarily the norm. Her father, Dr. Bijan, and her mother, a midwife and nurse trained in Europe, owned a labor and delivery hospital and threw elaborate parties in their spare time. Down the road, children not afforded the same luxuries attended prayers with their parents and studied the Koran, creating fertile ground for the coming religious revolution.

While on vacation in Spain in the 1970s, the Bijans got the word that Aytollah Khomeini's followers were rising up against the Shah and bombing establishments they believed to represent the evil Western influence. The Bijans' home was seized and their assets frozen; they were now refugees unable to return to their homeland. With her older sisters already in college in the U.S., 16-year-old Donia is sent to a Michigan boarding school, and eventually the entire family tries to rebuild their lives in San Francisco.

Maman's Homesick Pie is Donia's chronicle of her life in Iran and the U.S., her studies at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and her work as a chef in San Francisco. In some ways, it is also an ode to her parents, whom she regretted leaving in Spain, and especially her mother, who had always inspired Donia with her cooking and her hospitality.

The memoir is peppered with Persian inspired recipes such as as the Purple Plum Skillet Tart and Roast Duck Legs with Dates. My personal favorite, and the only recipes I've had the chance to make so far, is the Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant - quite delicious!

Maman's Homesick Pie is a joy to read - and cook from - and will especially appeal to readers who enjoy learning about historical events and foreign cultures. The hilarious descriptions of the differences between Persian and American definitions of hospitality alone make this book worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my copy of Maman's Homesick Pie in the morning and could not put it down until I had finished every page. Even though it contains mouth watering recipes, it is far from being a cookbook. Warmly written from the heart, Ms. Bijan shares her memories of a child and her family, a family who later left and could not return to their beloved country, and then of a girl becoming a woman working hard to realize her professional and personal dreams. The book is alive with the sights, smells, and emotions that she experienced. It was honest, real, and very well-written. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Ms. Bijan through her work and hope that she will share more of her life, her memories, and her recipes in a future book!
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