Dawn Weleski: Conflict Kitchen


Taboo Issue Topic: Politics
Words by Melaina Balbo Phipps
Photography by Conflict Kitchen

Pulling into a parking spot, I wasn’t surprised when my stomach started to growl. It was, after all, the first time I’d driven seven hours for Venezuelan food…okay, for any food, really. But I’d made the day-long trek to Pittsburgh from NYC to find Conflict Kitchen, and Venezuelan cuisine was what they’d be serving me.

At the takeout window Quinton, a native of Arkansas with a background in food and editing, pointed me to the Chivo al Coco con Mofongo (slow cooked goat with fried green banana mash), Jugo Naturale (a papaya), and, for dessert, some Besitos de Coco (“Coconut Kisses” or sweet coconut cookies—a bit like mini macaroons). While I waited, we talked about the food, the project, and the biggest surprise he’s encountered while being a Conflict Kitchen employee: “It’s amazing how many people just don’t read the news.”

My order ready, I collected a menagerie of colorful pamphlets offered to educate me—the diner—about hot-button issues in Venezuela: crime, oil, internal polarization, race/class, and the perception of the U.S. government and U.S. citizens.

And just like that I became part of the project.

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