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Following Death Threat, Students Defend Food Stand that Celebrates Palestinian Culture

November 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Mary Hansen, YES! Magazine

Conflict Kitchen serves up food from countries in conflict with the United States.


In front of the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, students gather around metal tables and chairs next to a small, brightly colored building. It houses Conflict Kitchen, an unusual restaurant that features food from conflict zones. Employees in scrubs from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hustle by its counter to get lunch before rushing back to the hospital just blocks away.

Conflict Kitchen offers a rotating menu of traditional foods from countries the United States is in conflict with. The goal, says Jon Rubin, co-director of the takeout restaurant, is to encourage a different kind of dialogue about places like Iran, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, one that counters negative depictions of those places and their people.

“Food is the easiest way to enter into understanding, or look into another culture,” Rubin said. “Food has all the stories of a region, a people, a culture embedded in it. You are tasting these things before you even think about these things.”

That message seems to be getting through to the restaurant’s customers.

“When I first came to Pitt last year, they were serving Cuban food,” says University of Pittsburgh senior Hadeel Salameh. “I thought it was a really unique way to portray dialogue and coexistence on campus, and let people know about the ongoing struggles of others around the world, or people that we perceive as others.”

Salameh is the president of the University of Pittsburgh’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. When Conflict Kitchen started planning a Palestinian menu, she and other members of the group offered to support the effort in any way they could.

They served as taste testers, volunteered to be interviewed about Palestinian food, culture, and politics and to be featured on the food wrappers, and attended a couple of events hosted by Conflict Kitchen with others from Pittsburgh’s Palestinian community.

“For me, as a Palestinian, it has been a home away from home,” Salameh said. “It tastes like Palestine.”

So, when on November 7 Conflict Kitchen announced on its Facebook page that it was closing temporarily due …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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