Day of Honey

A Memoir of Food, Love, and War

Day of Honey

A luminous portrait of life in the Middle East, Day of Honey weaves history, cuisine, and firsthand reporting into a fearless, intimate exploration of everyday survival.

In the fall of 2003, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. Over the next six years, while living in Baghdad and Beirut, she broke bread with Shiites and Sunnis, warlords and refugees, matriarchs and mullahs. Day of Honey is her memoir of the hunger for food and friendship—a communion that feeds the soul as much as the body in times of war.

Reporting from occupied Baghdad, Ciezadlo longs for normal married life. She finds it in Beirut, her husband’s hometown, a city slowly recovering from years of civil war. But just as the young couple settles into a new home, the bloodshed they escaped in Iraq spreads to Lebanon and reawakens the terrible specter of sectarian violence. In lucid, fiercely intelligent prose, Ciezadlo uses food and the rituals of eating to illuminate a vibrant Middle East that most Americans never see. We get to know people like Roaa, a determined young Kurdish woman who dreams of exploring the world, only to see her life under occupation become confined to the kitchen; Abu Rifaat, a Baghdad book lover who spends his days eavesdropping in the ancient city’s legendary cafés; Salama al-Khafaji, a soft-spoken dentist who eludes assassins to become Iraq’s most popular female politician; and Umm Hassane, Ciezadlo’s sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, who teaches her to cook rare family recipes—which are included in a mouthwatering appendix of Middle Eastern comfort food. As bombs destroy her new family’s ancestral home and militias invade her Beirut neighborhood, Ciezadlo illuminates the human cost of war with an extraordinary ability to anchor the rhythms of daily life in a larger political and historical context. From forbidden Baghdad book clubs to the oldest recipes in the world, Ciezadlo takes us inside the Middle East at a historic moment when hope and fear collide. Day of Honey is a brave and compassionate portrait of civilian life during wartime—a moving testament to the power of love and generosity to transcend the misery of war.
  • Free Press | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416584223 | 
  • February 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Day of Honey includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Annia Ciezadlo. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In the fall of 2003, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. Determined to make a life and a career in the Middle East with her new Lebanese husband, Annia spent the next six years in Beirut and Baghdad, cooking and eating with Shiites and Sunnis, refugees and warlords, matriarchs and mullahs. It is from these meals that Annia discovers what she calls a “shadow war”—a hidden conflict that slowly destroys lives, divides families, and poisons daily life. In war zones, the precious ordinariness of cooking takes on new meaning. From hurried meals accompanied by gunfire to lavish family feasts, Annia discovers that civilians use food to feed the soul as much as the body in times of war.


  1. Day of Honey opens with an introduction, titled “The Siege,” that takes place soon after 9/11 in New York City. Why do you think Annia begins her memoir here, with a taxi ride down Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue? How does this
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Articles About This Book


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About the Author

Annia Ciezadlo
Photo by Mohamad Bazzi

Annia Ciezadlo

Annia Ciezadlo received her M.A. in journalism from New York University in 2000. In late 2003, she left New York for Baghdad, where she worked for The Christian Science Monitor. She has also written about culture, politics, and the Middle East for The New Republic, The Nation, The Washington Post, the National Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Observer, and Lebanon's Daily Star. Annia lives somewhere between New York and Beirut, with her husband, the journalist Mohamad Bazzi.