November 9, 2015, Washington, DC—A Pittsburgh restaurant has shifted its theme to Iranian culture and politics in response to the recent negotiations between the United States and Iran. Conflict Kitchen only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, currently concentrating on Iran. The delicious and authentic courses served by Conflict Kitchen are accompanied by interviews, performances, events, and discussions that engage the public with the culture and politics of the focus nation. Previous countries that Conflict Kitchen has represented have included Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Venezuela.
The reasonably-priced Iranian menu includes dishes like Kashk-e Bademjan: eggplant and whey dip with fried onion and dried mint, Khoresht-e Ghormeh Sabzi: a stew of lamb, fresh herbs, and kidney beans on steamed rice, Sholeh Zard: saffron rice pudding, and many others. The authenticity of the food comes from the restaurant’s collaboration with Iranians both in Iran and in the diaspora. The food is paired with events that together promote cultural understanding and teach patrons about the featured country and its people.
Conflict Kitchen has put on many different events revolving around Iranian culture and politics. Jon Rubin, co-founder of Conflict Kitchen, traveled to Iran earlier this year, and documented his journey on Conflict Kitchen’s Instagram. The restaurant also asked Iranians around the world to write parts of a speech that they would like to see President Obama deliver. These were then compiled into a coherent speech that was delivered by a Presidential look-a-like in the plaza in front of Conflict Kitchen. The restaurant previously put on a live Skype meal between people in Pittsburgh and in Tehran and it even held a Persian cultural festival. Furthermore, every Wednesday from 11AM-2PM, visitors can speak with 24-year-old Iranian Sohrab Kashani through the body of Elise Walton who uses technology to act as a human avatar for the young man who lives in Iran. These are just a few of the actions taken by Conflict Kitchen to increase cultural awareness and highlight issues affecting the Iranian community.
Conflict Kitchen also offers K-12 education workshops that can be specified for each group of students. These workshops include international cooking lessons, student avatars representing a real foreigner from the focus country, Skype calls, and interviews with representatives of the focus country. These workshops are designed to not only teach the students about the culture of the chosen country, but to also teach the students certain skill sets such as descriptive writing, performance, media literacy, decision making, critical thinking, research skills, and communication skills.
Conflict Kitchen is open seven days a week from 11AM to 7PM, providing Pittsburgh with the only Iranian restaurant it has ever known, and shedding light on ethnic diversity. It provides insights into Iran’s culture while engaging the public in discussions about important issues that patrons might know little about outside of the governmental rhetoric and polarizing media. The Conflict Kitchen project and mission have been praised by the Washington Post, BBC, and Al Jazeera, as well as in many other international press sources.
To learn more about Conflict Kitchen click here.