Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen has a global menu, with dishes from countries that have diplomatic problems with the U.S.
Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian Magazine
Submitted by Evergreene Digest Conributing Editor Lydia Howell
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Staffers are trained to both prepare food and discuss political issues with customers. Smithsonian Magazine / Ross Mantle
October 2013 | In an era when celebrity chefs and avant-garde gastronomes have seemingly exhausted every culinary concept, a takeout joint in Pittsburgh is making a stir with a unique menu: Conflict Kitchen only serves dishes from nations that the United States is at odds with. "This is a place on the street level where we can unpack politics together, using food as a storytelling device," said co-founder Jon Rubin, a Carnegie Mellon University art professor.
The eatery, located in the city's Schenley Plaza, defines conflict broadly as war, boycotts, embargoes, military clashes and diplomatic quarrels. As policy makers debated troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the specialty was bolani (savory turnovers stuffed with spinach, red lentils or potatoes). Amid concerns over Iran's nuclear program, there was kubideh (seasoned ground beef wrapped in flatbread). For the Persian theme, the restaurant staged dinner at a house nearby at which guests Skyped with people in Iran who were eating the same dishes.
Joseph Stromberg is an editorial assistant, reporter/science Blogger at Smithsonian Magazine.