Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Conflict Kitchen": Gastrodiplomacy in Action

This past weekend, I happened to be in Pittsburgh for a brief stop-over on a much longer roadtrip. We spent the morning in the University of Pittsburgh's fascinating Cathedral of Learning, where we toured some of the 25+ "Nationality Rooms" (which probably deserve a separate post of their own, but for the time, I'll just direct you to their virtual gallery - check it out!).

Yes, there was even an "Armenian Room". Pretty impressive, I should say...

Soon after, however, we were in need of a lunch. So, as we were strolling down the park in search of open eateries, we stumbled upon Cocina Del Conflicto, or Conflict Kitchen. Intrigued, we rushed to find out what it was all about, and surely enough, we discovered what must be the best gastrodiplomacy project ever to have existed!

The Conflict Kitchen was established in 2010 by a professor (!!) and his former student, who already co-owned a Waffle Shop. Apparently, the idea was born from an initial plan to open up a restaurant serving cuisine that was not available in Pittsburgh. Then, they decided to rotate the menu, offering street food from countries that the US is in conflict with. Iran was first, followed by Afghanistan, Venezuela, and now - Cuba.