Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just Jennifer

Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan (Algonquin Books, October 2011)

As Bijan is cleaning out her mother’s house, she finds her mother’s recipe trove; this unleashes a flood of memories, magnified since as a chef, much of Bijan’s life revolves around food. Bijan and her family were living in Iran until 1978 when they fled to California during the revolution. Bijan’s father, a doctor, her mother, a nurse, started an obstetric hospital in Iran and made it their family’s home. Bijan’s mother saw that the heart of the hospital and family home was the kitchen, providing delicious, nutritious food for families and patients. In the U.S. her mother embraced American cooking and quickly took to customs such as Thanksgiving dinner, infusing her food with the spices and memories of her home country and her family’s time spent in France.

Bijan takes this all a step further, attending the Cordon Bleu in Paris, incorporating not only her experiences and memories, but her mother’s as well, in her cuisine and her restaurants. The result is a memoir of not one, but two vibrant women, and a culture rich in tradition that is not just being handed down and preserved to and by the next generation, but being woven into an entirely new tradition. Recipes filled with the flavors and scents from Bijan’s life growing up, her time in Paris and her family’s creations are included.

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