“The Last Days of Café Leila will engage all of your senses. This is the poignantly told story of a family and of the brilliant and beautiful culture of Persia, diminished but not destroyed. It is also a triumphant portrait of a woman making her way from apology to full-throated song.”
—Elizabeth J. Church, author of The Atomic Weight of Love
"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."
"As a chef, Bijan is known for blending the cultures and cuisines of the places she’s called home: Iran, France, and America. She does the same in her wonderfully written memoir, sharing memories of her childhood in Iran that are so well rendered, readers will easily envision her father making a simple, sumptuous salad or her mother offering bites of delicious seasonal cheeses. Her parents, well-respected founders of a busy obstetric hospital, were named as infidels during the Islamic revolution, so the family fled to California in 1978. Bijan writes movingly of her parents’ accomplishments, their difficulty adjusting to their new home, and her own burgeoning love of food and cooking. What began in her parents’ kitchen in Iran continued in America, and took her to Paris and the famed Cordon Bleu school. After apprenticeships in France and California, Bijan was chef at a high-end San Francisco hotel and had her own well-reviewed bistro for a decade. Like the perfect dessert, each chapter ends with recipes, from a pomegranate granita she savored in Iran to cardamom honey madeleines evocative of France."
"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
"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."
“Within the captivating setting of a postrevolutionary Iran, Donia Bijan brings to life a family torn apart by loss, tragedy, and distance, whose abiding connections refuse to die. A sensitively conceived, beautifully written story.”
—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter
“Treat yourself to this delectable debut. Bijan recounts her journey from 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.”
“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.”
“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.”