German Things Hossein Believes Iran Invented

I left Iran as a few months old little Nilofar. But lucky for me, my dad Hossein never stopped reminding me about how the glorious Persian Empire made many of the things we know and love — even things that might not seem Iranian on first glance.


Growing up, my mom always made me “she-nee-zel” (say it out loud like a Persian). Chicken breast with egg, coated with flour and breadcrumbs, then pan-fried. When out for Persian food at a restaurant in Vancouver I asked my mom why “she-nee-zel” wasn’t on the menu.

“Nilofar, come on azizam. It’s schnitzel. And you know it’s German,” Roya said, giving me a mean side eye.

I’ve never been more shocked in my life.

Was I lied to this whole time?


Literally spoon fed lies in the shape of “she-nee-zel?” I shared this newfound revelation with Baba Hossein who, thankfully, cleared this up for me.

“Dad, did YOU know that ‘she-nee-zel’ is German?”

Who told you that rubbish?” asked a mildly angry Hossein, with his slight British accent left over from his university days in the UK.

“Mom, obviously.”

“Nilofar. Let’s think about this logically. What are Germans?”

“Uh… what?”

“Aryans baba! Aryans! Now tell me, what are Persians?”

“… Also Aryans?”

Smart girl. Now tell me, which Aryans were here first?” He asked as I stared at him blankly. “Us, Nilo joon. They’re Aryan, we’re Aryan…

We were here first so they took it from us!


Now, this isn’t the first gem of knowledge that Hossein has dropped on me. And it’s not the first time he’s used the old “which Aryans were here first” trick. Years before, Hossein revealed that another German treasure was in fact, you guessed it, Persian.

Flash back to 1998. ‘N SYNC dropped their debut album, big t-shirts worn over leggings wasn’t trendy like it is today, and I was adjusting to my first three years in Canada. It was just around Christmas and my parents decided to embrace our first Christmas in the western world.

I made one of the biggest mistakes of my 8-year old life by asking Hossein about Santa Claus.

“Baba joon, where did Santa Claus come from?”

Azizam, it came from Iran. You know that,” he replied.

“But everyone at school says…”

“EVERYONE AT SCHOOL IS WRONG,” he yelled in a totally inappropriate Persian dad manner as he cut me off. “Nilo joon listen closely. What are Germans?”


“No Nilo. Aryan. Just like Persians. You know who came first – Persians! Hundreds of years ago.

Just look at Hajji Firuz. He’s just like Santa Claus!

Red suit, dances around and brings cheer. Now, go away. It’s time for me to watch the BBC.”


What Baba Hossein failed to mention was that there were a few key differences between Santa Claus and Hajji Firuz.

Hajji Firuz is way skinnier than Santa, Hajji Firuz wears blackface (which I’m told is from chimney soot, but I’m not totally convinced) and our Persian homie dances around with a tambourine. Not really sure Hossein’s theory checks out on this one. But on the schnitzel/”she-nee-zel” debacle, I’ll give it to the old man.

I mean, we technically were the first Aryans there.

Final score: Germany 1, Hossein 1.






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