“The Baha’is are persecuted in Iran,” he said. “I couldn’t go to university or obtain work permits.”
Ms. Johnson, who grew up in New Jersey, embraced Persian cooking, culture and the Baha’i Faith, which she now follows.
“It was so exciting,” she said, “new holidays, new spices and new recipes.”
In 2020 for Valentine’s Day she made him a vegan version of khoresh gheymeh, an aromatic split-pea stew topped with Persian-style French fries.
“It was as tasty as my grandma’s cooking,” he said.
In March, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, he worked the front lines as an emergency medicine fellow at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull in Brooklyn. They both contracted the coronavirus, and while they quarantined together they did a lot of jigsaw puzzles, and grew closer. In August 2020, she took the leap and moved to his apartment in Williamsburg from the West Village.
“Florence is a bright and shining light that has always been there just waiting for me to be ready to meet her,” he said.