Today I am reviewing Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Maman’s Homesick Pie is a memoir written by the well known chef, Donia Bijan. Beautifully written, it tells the story of Bijan’s Iranian family, who had to flee Iran during the revolution of 1978 and eventually settled in California. Both of Bijan’s parents were in medicine. Her father was a well respected doctor who founded a hospital and her mother was a nurse who worked at his side. They were sophisticated, well-educated and loved food. Her father would immediately search for new markets when they traveled, declining restaurant food and filling their hotel rooms with fresh fruit and cheeses. Her mother loved cooking and creating meals for her family and friends as well as the hospital patients. Food is the running theme throughout this memoir. It is while on vacation in Majorca that the Bijans hear about the revolution and realize they can no longer return to their beloved country.
Bijan writes movingly about this drastic change in their lives and how each of her parents cope with this wrenching loss in very different ways. Her mother enthusiastically embraces the American culture, yet her father cannot. And Donia finds herself coping with being a girl from Iran when anti-Iranian sentiment in this country is very high. Through it all, Donia gains inspiration and support from her beloved mother, eventually making the decision to enroll in Le Cordon Bleu to study to be a chef. The cooking lessons given to her so many years before by her mother, the reverence for food instilled in her by her parents, the scents and flavors of Persian and French cuisine – all of it contributes to a singular focus on learning from and apprenticing under as many chefs as possible so that she can master her craft.
There’s so much more to this memoir: love of family, eventual understanding of and compassion for a father’s fears, finding one’s way in a new country, loss of a homeland and detailed descriptions of life in Iran before the revolution. Bijan is a wonderful writer. She lovingly writes about food – the textures, the smells, the creation of a meal – with beautifully chosen words.
I really loved this book. It’s a wonderful read.
I am giving away 2 copies of Maman’s Homesick Pie. Just leave a comment and I will pick two names on Saturday evening.
About the author:
Donia Bijan 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. She now divides her days between raising her son, teaching and writing.