A Pittsburgh kitchen tackles cuisine and culture in an unusual way.
Conflict Kitchen is a take-out shop that only serves food from countries the United States is in conflict with. The storefront appeared almost overnight, slapped between a nightclub and a waffle shop. The vibrant blue and yellow sign beckoned in both English and Farsi, causing motorists to stop in the middle of the street, leap out of their cars and proclaim, “Finally! Iranian takeout food in Pittsburgh!” The brainchild of John Peña, Jon Rubin, and Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen (124 S. Highland Ave. in Pittsburgh, Pa.) uses food as a starting point for dialogue about the people, ideas and cultures of nations with whom the United States government is in conflict. We all get hungry, the thinking goes, so why not use lunch as a meeting point? We probably have more in common with our neighbors than just our appetite. Every few months, the kitchen staff serves up a different cuisine from a non-Western nation. First up was the Iranian Kubideh, seasoned beef packed in freshly baked flatbread with fresh herbs. Each “sandwich” was served in a specially designed wrapper, printed with facts and trivia about Iran—from pop-culture to more complex issues. Kubideh is an Iranian minced meat kabab (ours is a patty) made from ground lamb, beef or chicken, often mixed with parsley and chopped onions.
Kubideh is an Iranian minced meat kabab (ours is a patty) made from ground lamb, beef or chicken, often mixed with parsley and chopped onions.