Super, super intriguing: a group of Pittsburgh artists started a food project selling foods from places that the US has historically been at odds with.
Conflict Kitchen uses food to bridge divide
They're currently serving kubidehs from Iran, encased in a wrapper printed with information about Iran, as well as personal views about Iran from both Pittsburg and Iran. The plan is to focus on Iran for 4 months, and then move on to Afghanistan.
Clearly this is a type of culinary diplomacy playing out on a citizen level, or perhaps a citizen diplomacy playing out on a culinary level. What's also interesting to note is that this is coming from an art angle, with an art professor at Carnegie Mellon University co-founding the project, and the university paying the rent for the space.
Apparently the word is spreading, with people interested in how this idea might be franchised. I, too, am intrigued by how this idea might be expanded beyond an "art" project, or an academic venture, as well as the attendant questions that would accompany such an expansion. For instance, how to incorporate a sense of "cultural authenticity"? The current project drew upon the founders' personal connections in Iran, as well as the input of an Iranian-born professor at Carnegie Mellon. Are such personal connections "enough" to imbue a sense of authenticity? How might future attempts to capture "authenticity", lacking preexisting personal connections, shape iterations of the project?
Or do such questions muddle the process? Perhaps this model should be taken for what it is and what it might achieve in its limited realm, its potential to inspire others beyond its direct influence notwithstanding, rather than trying to scale it up or politicize it. Though it still nonetheless raises the question, will this actually have an impact on people's perceptions of, in this case, Iran?
Of course, others might also say, so long as the food is good, does it matter?