WATCH | Food has become political at this popular Pittsburgh restaurant. "Conflict Kitchen" only serves cuisine from countries the United States is in conflict with. Hungry?
Conflict Kitchen began as an art project and was founded by Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, two professors from Carnegie Mellon University.
The restaurant rotates its menu each month highlighting a different country's cuisine. Past iterations had foods from Venezuela, Palestine, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cuba. "Each iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region."
She describes the Conflict Kitchen process and how each cuisine project begins.
This notion of food as a gateway to appreciating a culture has been reenforced before by culinary icon, author and travel host Anthony Bourdain.
"Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed pope mobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once."
Conflict Kitchen's take out wrapper is a first person perspective of life in those countries. This wrapper is about life in Palestine.
However, it seems "political cuisine" and telling the story of others can touch a nerve. In 2014, Conflict Kitchen shut down temporarily after receiving a death threat from someone upset with its Palestine's iteration.
Frequent customer, Nathanael Francesco Trimboli explains how Conflict Kitchen stacks up to other restaurants in Pittsburgh's burgeoning food scene.
The Cuban menu at Conflict Kitchen.
The Cuban take out wrapper.
After several years of operation, the curtains are closing on Conflict Kitchen. It's shutting down temporarily. Plans for the next phase are in motion and both, Dawn and Jon hope to bring the concept to other cities across America.