“I LAHV YOU too mahch,” said the glamorous woman with the clinking bangles. She was my dad’s sister, my Aunt Mansoureh—known to all as Mali—and she beamed as she hugged me for the umpteenth time since she had arrived in Philadelphia from Iran. Because she barely spoke English and I didn’t speak Persian, we communicated with smiles. In the kitchen, the scents of freshly cut dill, caramelized onions and steeping saffron mingled into a spicy perfume. It was the late ’70s, before the 1979 Islamic revolution, and I was getting my first real taste of Persian culture. I was not yet 10 years old.
My dad had come to America in 1961, fresh out of medical school in Tehran, to do his residency at a hospital in Philadelphia. Leaving » Read more