Let me now serve you the food of your enemy

Art in public space can function as a catalyst for discussions on broader issues. An excellent example of that is Conflict Kitchen, a street food joint in Pittsburgh that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with. The food is wrapped in a paper covered with facts about the country (Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Afghanistan, etc), its government, culture and the way the U.S. perceives it. Every month, a new country takes center stage. This way of selling food in the street provides a informal forum for conversations that might not normally take place between people who would otherwise probably never stop to talk to each other.

Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities in relation to current geopolitical events. Operating seven days a week in the middle of the city, Conflict Kitchen uses the social relations of food and economic exchange to engage the general public in discussions about countries, cultures, and people that they might know little about outside of the polarizing rhetoric of governmental politics and the narrow lens of media headlines. In addition, the restaurant creates a constantly changing site for ethnic diversity in the post-industrial city of Pittsburgh, as it has presented the only Iranian, Afghan, Venezuelan, North Korean and Palestinian restaurants the city has ever seen.

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