If you're ever in Pittsburgh, you must swing by Conflict Kitchen for lunch—as I wrote in the December/January issue (and online here) it is an artist-run take-out window in Pittsburgh, selling street food solely from countries the United States is in conflict with, in three-month rotations. Artist and professor Jon Rubin, who founded the project last year, recently wrote me to say they'd shuttered the Kitchen's first iteration—Kudideh Kitchen, selling Iranian sandwiches—and reopened as Bolani Pazi, an Afghan take-out restaurant that serves a savory homemade afghan turnover filled with either pumpkin, spinach, lentils, or potatoes and leeks.
I asked Rubin to tell me a bit about Conflict Kitchen's latest incarnation. "We chose Afghanistan for our current iteration as it neighbors Iran and is obviously the site of direct military engagement with elements within the country," he wrote in an email. "Also we felt that our customer base had an introduction to the culture and sociopolitcal dynamics of Iran and we wanted to be able to contrast this information by looking at one of their direct neighbors. Obviously there are many historical and contemporary links between the countries, but the stories of daily life and the nature of the U.S. involvement are very different in each country."
"The response has been great, very similar to the Iranian version. Local Afghans here in the city have been very supportive and we are collaborating with several of them when we bring in school groups. We recently had a live Skype event with 10 Afghan filmmakers. We each prepared Bolani, theirs fried, ours grilled, and watched and discussed some of the documentry films that they had produced about daily life in the Kabul an the provinces."
What's next for Conflict Kitchen? "We plan on focusing on North Korea next, then most likely Venezuela."