Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Enter through the kitchen

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Food is a need we can all agree on. No matter what our culinary tastes are, everyone needs something to chew on. Two kitchens have caught my eye lately, not only for their menu, but for the way they've elevated food into a form of diplomacy.

At San Francisco's Culture Kitchen, your class isn't taught by a celebrity Michelin chef. It's taught by immigrants whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. It could be easier to Google a recipe and check out the top hit for Vietnamese spring rolls, but these "master cooks" bring something more to the table.

Photo via Culture Kitchen
"That one thing that I really enjoyed, other than the fact Maria Lordes was so dynamic and engaging, she really brought the cuisine to life. I mean that in a sense that she was so eager to tell these stories as she was making the food. It just really transformed it into an experience that I would never have in a million years had in another place," writes Carly in the site's testimonial. 

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has the Conflict Kitchen, a take-out stand serving only food from countries the U.S. is currently in conflict with. The stand has been up since 2010 and changes menu every six months to highlight a new country. Your wrap also comes with a handy mini country guide that includes enlightening information like "Perception of US government" or "Perception of US citizens," which was culled from actual interviews. 

Conflict Kitchen's third iteration, La Cocina Arepas, serving Venezuelan arepas via Conflict Kitchen.
Nowadays, politicians are the de facto representatives of a country. Their talking heads often dehumanize conflict, but when you eat the food and hear/read the stories from the people themselves, you begin to see the person behind the nationality label. Cheers to that.


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