Friday, June 25, 2010

Conflict Kitchen

Every other week or so, me and a couple of guys from work will cut the chains and go out to eat lunch. Mostly, it's a way for us to vent about our various departments or the current projects we're working on, but it's also a way to get out and try different places.

Usually we're so caught up in work that we don't think about it ahead of time. This results in us eating at chain-y type of places or old familiar haunts.

Well, last Friday I said "I got this one covered boys, but you have to willing to try something different." So we went off the grid to Conflict Kitchen in East Liberty.

Conflict Kitchen is an off-shoot project from the art/world cultures department of Carnegie Mellon University. It is staffed by artsy types of people from CMU and associated with the Waffle Shop next door (itself an interesting animal to observe). The premise is this: Every 4 months the menu will highlight a food item from a country that the United States is currently either at war with or in conflict with. (I know, I know...they could do this for 5 years easy).

The current country is Iran. The downside to this place is that there is only 1 item...the Kubideh sandwich. I thought there would be some rice or some tea that Iran is well known to enjoy, but no. The Kubideh is a "street sandwich" common thoroughout Iran. It is a spiced ground beef (curry, saffron, mint) with some onion wrapped in a homemade pita-esque shell. This is all served to you in a paper wrapper which gives you some reading material about the culture of Iran, its economy, religious beliefs, etc.

It is meant to be an awareness project, not a full scale restaurant. I get that, but some rice would be nice.

The sandwich itself was poked and prodded by my 3 other less-adventureous food companions this day. I dived right into it. To me, it was very similar to something you would get at Aladdin's or some other type of Middle Eastern restaurant in the city (Khalil's in Bloomfield, in particular). I enjoyed it, but there was a touch too much flour on the pita-like shell. I looked like the Dave Chappelle character, Tyrone Biggins the crackhead, after I was done before I wiped my mouth.

Supposedly the next 2 countries will be Afghanistan and North Korea. I am slightly curious what dish they will choose for North Korea. The Conflict Kitchen is something I recommend visiting (the facade will change as well every 4 months), but plan on getting something else to eat to fill your cake cruncher.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dale Berra's Stash,

    Thank you for featuring Conflict Kitchen in your article "Conflict Kitchen" on June 25th.

    We have recently launched a campaign on, a website that helps innovative projects get funding. We have had a successful launch with Kubideh Kitchen and have sparked many conversations about Iranian culture and politics. Now we need your help in making our next
    stage of Conflict Kitchen as successful as our last.

    In October, Kubideh Kitchen will go out of business and change identities in order to highlight and provoke discussion around Afghan culture. We would greatly appreciate if you wrote a follow-up
    blog post highlighting our Kickstarter pledge drive to help us reach our goal of $4,000 by the end of September. Donations will go towards the creation of our next iteration, Bolani Pazi, which will serve Afghan food wrapped in a custom-designed wrapper printed with Afghan perspectives and opinions. Your blog post will be featured in our newsletter and other marketing media.

    Here is a link to our page, which includes a video and blurb explaining our efforts:

    Thank you in for your continued support and interest.

    Dawn Weleski
    Conflict Kitchen