After the long-time owner of an Iranian specialty goods shop in my small town passed away, his children sold the business – a huge loss to our community. I had spent many an afternoon there with my grandmother, purchasing roasted nuts by the pound, perusing Iranian pop CDs and nagging her to buy me a box of ice cream sandwiches stuffed with rose-pistachio ice cream.
The shop owner’s death got me thinking about the other local specialty shops and their quickly aging owners – what would happen to their delicacies once they meet their maker?
Their children, like my family, are part of a diluted reality of Persian culture, growing thinner and thinner with each passing generation, who take with them the ancient traditions, recipes, and ridiculous home remedies; the domestic-born pace the aisles of CVS looking for a cure for stomach aches, when all they have to do is drink tea with saffron rock candy.
With the latest immigrants dying and their children assimilating, that saffron rock candy is an endangered species. Its survival depends on the people of a nuclear Iran and US Immigration Services, who are rarely seen cooperating with each other.
While the diplomatic relations between the US and Iran, or lack thereof, are part of a much larger issue of national security and polarizing politics, they will also determine the survival of an ancient culture outside of its home. If no new immigrants from Iran settle in the United States, if trade with Iran ceases to exist, if the unpredictable danger of the motherland continues to bar Iranian-Americans from connecting to their roots, most people in the world will be unaffected. For people like me, life as we know it will not be known by our descendants.
Forty years from now, when my stomach hurts, will I have to drive to CVS?
Illustration By: Samiran Sarkar / Shutterstock