Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
Take-out/Fast-food restaurants are all over the country, but this one is particularly unique. They don’t serve milkshakes, fries, tacos, or burgers, but rather food from countries the U.S. is in conflict with. Conflict Kitchen is based out of Pittsburgh and was started by Jon Rubin, an assistant professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University. The idea was realized with Rubin’s collaboration with artists John Pena and Dawn Weleski.
Although Conflict Kitchen was started as an “experimental public artwork” and a competition to a local hot dog stand, the owners wanted to offer people more than just food. The restaurant first started with serving the food of Iran, in an effort to get Americans to look past geopolitical conflicts and focus on the culture and the humanity in the country.
The first iteration, Kubideh Kitchen, served kubideh, an Iranian sandwich of sorts and popular street food in Tehran. Kubideh is ground beef, sumac, parsley, basil, fresh mint and onion all wrapped in freshly baked barbari bread. The sandwich is then wrapped in paper that’s covered with information, opinions, and interviews with Iranians on all sorts of topics (Wrapper).
The mission of Conflict Kitchen is to spark open dialogue and appreciation for that which exists beyond what we see in the media. The team has even partnered with diners in Tehran for live online discussions and a meal! Check out info on that meal here: Live Skype Meal.
The second go around of Conflict Kitchen features the food of Afghanistan, through Bolani Pazi, an Afghan take-out restaurant that serves savory homemade turnovers filled with pumpkin, spinach, and lentils, or potatoes and leeks. The turnovers will be wrapped in paper with interviews of Afghans from both Afghanistan and the U.S (Wrapper).
Upcoming menus at the Conflict Kitchen could include foods from Venezuela or North Korea. What a concept – food for thought at its best! Here are some photos from the two iterations of Conflict Kitchen: Kubideh Kitchen & Bolani Pazi.