Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Reivew - Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan

Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan

Part memoir, and part recipes, I was getting hungry while reading this book. The author's family fled from Iran to California in 1978, and she talked about the Persian food she grew up eating, the French food she learned cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and the fusion food (combining the two) she served in her own restaurant.

I am not familiar with either Persian or French cuisine, so it was interesting to read about recipes such as Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant, Orange Cardamom Cookies,  Roast Duck Legs with Dates and Warm Lentil Salad, and Rose Petal Ice Cream. She also mentioned persimmon and how Californians had no idea what they were missing out on with this wonderful fruit (they found lots of persimmons wasted from people's yards in California). I love persimmon! Though I grew up just eating it as a fruit, or as a dried fruit (you have to soak it first before eating it. I much prefer it fresh). I also knew about pomegranates, which the author also grew up eating, since I was a little kid (many years ago now :) so I was amazed how it'd become a buzz food here in the US in recent years. When she talked about Persian food, it actually reminded me a bit of Chinese food too. I was so glad I won a copy of this book, so now I didn't have to type up the recipes from the book!

But above all, this book really was a tribute to her mother. Her mother had such a big influence on her and you could tell between the lines their love for each other. Her mum was a remarkable woman,  and I was so touched by their stories that it made me missed my mother, who lives overseas, that I called her right away (I don't like talking on the phone much... so I don't call as frequently as I should... and my mum doesn't email.) It was a heartwarming story, though the author did not go into a lot of her own personal life, such as how she met her husband, or her relationship with her sisters. Hence why I thought this was written more in her mother's memory (she did dedicate it to both her parents. Her dad just did not get mentioned as much as the mother.) I liked her mother's thought on parenting:

She believed a parent's job was to provide love and security without staking any claims on a child's future, that children owned their dreams, their mishaps, their triumphs, and their failures. (p98)

I could also really identify with the quote below - like the author, I had lived in 3 different countries (her - Iran, US, France. Me - Hong Kong, Australia and US). I often have no idea how to answer the question, "where are you from?" because well, I call all three my homes. Do I really have to be exclusive and choose just one? 

Paris, San Francisco, Tehran, all claim a part of me. As I looked out the window on the plane home from Paris, I thought about how the ktichens where I was shaped belong to all these places, and yet none claim to be the center. I'll always negotiate that in-between culture. And I'll alwyas rely on the longing for these places, and I'll always be learning to move between them without falling through the gaps. (p203).
I recommend this book to those who like food, cooking, and like to learn about other culture!

4 / 5 .

Note - The book was originally borrowed from the library, though I'd also won a free copy from another blogger, Chocolate and Croissants.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.


  1. Awww sounds really sweet.
    I love books that remind me to value family.

    Where does your mum live?

    1. My mum flies between Aust and Hong Kong. I have one sister in Aust and one in HK. Since I came here in 2004, I had only seen my family in 2010.

  2. This so sounds like my kind of book! I absolutely want to read it. It's about food of course, but also about different cultures and living in them for a while (love the last quote!) and relationships. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. I think you'd like it! I didn't know a lot about Iranian/Persian culture or food at all, so it was an interesting read. I think you can also identify with the culture clash/adaptation/acclimation!