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Conflict Kitchen

Only serves food from countries with which the United States is in conflict

Our Current Focus is on the Food,
Culture and Politics of Iran



Event: Guest Instagrammer: Farzane Ghadyanloo

Over the next two weeks, “Farzane Ghadyanloo“, an Iranian photographer, will take over our Instagram account. #group #school #girls #autumn #tree #blue #uniform #street #iran #كرج A photo posted by Farzane Ghadyanloo (@farzaneghadyanloo) on Nov 29, 2015 at 9:06am PST     CK: Tell us… MORE >


Event: Russian Lunch Hour

When: December 8th Noon-1:30p

Where: 4130 Posvar Hall, 4th floor (across the street from Conflict Kitchen)

Join us for a informal lunch and discussion about life and current events in Russia. A limited number of Russian lunches will be available for purchase at the event. The discussion is free and open to the public. With special guests: Marsha Shisman.  A native of… MORE >

Ordinary day in Tehran- on a bus

Event: Guest Instagrammer: Around Tehran

Over the next two weeks, “Around Tehran”, an anonymous Iranian instagrammer, will take over our Instagram account. Maybe he was taking my photo. | 22 Oct ’15 | iPhone 6 | #aroundtehran #thr #myaroundtehran_tabiyatbridge A photo posted by Happening Around Tehran (@aroundtehran) on Oct 22, 2015… MORE >


Event: The Lunch Hour (Iran)

When: Nov. 17 noon-1:30pm

Where: 4130 Posvar Hall (across the street from Conflict Kitchen)

Join us Nov. 17 for an informal lunch discussion about current events in Iran and Iranian life in PGH Nov. 17 noon-1:30pm at 4130 Posvar Hall, 4th floor (across the street from Conflict Kitchen) Pick up lunch at Conflict Kitchen and head over and join… MORE >


Event: Guest Instagrammer: CK Co-Director Jon Rubin in Iran

When: May 23rd - June 3rd, 2015

Over the next two weeks Jon Rubin, co-founder of Conflict Kitchen,  will be taking over our Instagram account while he travels in Iran. Guest Instagrammer Jon Rubin – man carrying freshly baked #Barbari bread from the nearby bakery. #Tehran #Iran A photo posted by Conflict… MORE >


Event: The Iranian Speech (Printed Edition)

We asked Iranians all over the world to write part of a speech they would like U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver. These parts were compiled into a final speech which was delivered by a Obama look-alike in the plaza outside of Conflict Kitchen in… MORE >


Event: The Iranian Speech

When: June 19, 22, 25 2013

Where: Conflict Kitchen (Schenley Plaza)

We asked Iranians all over the world to write part of a speech they would like U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver. These parts were compiled into a final speech which was delivered by a Obama look-alike in the plaza outside of Conflict Kitchen in… MORE >


Event: The Foreigner

When: Every Wednesday noon-2pm

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Through simple mobile technology Pittsburgh citizen Elise Walton will be a human avatar for Sohrab Kashani, a 24-year-old man who is currently living in Iran. You can have lunch and speak to Sohraba through the body of Elise at the Conflict Kitchen every Wednesday from… MORE >

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Event: The Iranian Speech (solicitation)

When: Upcoming

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Dear Iranian friends, We would like to ask you to write part of a speech that you would like Barack Obama to deliver. We will be assembling these into an upcoming publication that will be distributed to thousands of our American customers at Conflict Kitchen… MORE >


Event: Live Skype Meal Between Pittsburgh and Tehran

When: June 5, 10:00am Pittsburgh, USA 6:30pm Tehran, IRAN 2010

Where: The Waffle Shop, Pittsburgh/ Sazmanab Project, Tehran

The Conflict Kitchen held its first public event, a meal held simultaneously in Pittsburgh and Tehran, where diners in both cities sat around long tables that were joined via webcam: an international dinner party. Each city prepared the same exact recipes and shared food and… MORE >


Event: Pittsburgh’s first Persian Cultural Festival

When: October, 2, 2010

Where: Conflict Kitchen and the Shadow Lounge

WHERE: Waffle Shop (next to Conflict Kitchen) & AVA Lounge 124 and 126 S. Highland Ave. Pittsburgh, PA WHEN: Saturday, October 2nd, from 6pm to Midnight. SCHEDULE: 6:00-7:00pm: Movie screening – Persian-style brewed Tea and snacks served 7:00-8:30pm: Dinner – A menu consisting of fabulous… MORE >


Event: Google+ Hangout: Sanctions in Iran

When: December 18, 2012

Where: Online via Conflict Kitchen Google+

Discussion on the ramification for regular Iranians of the elevated U.S. (and international) sanctions on Iran. With: Sanaz Raji, University of Leeds Fari Bradley. @FariBrad. Radio Presenter/ Producer Six Pillars to Persia Sohrab Koshani, Artist and Director of Sazmanab Project Astria Suparak, Director Miller Gallery… MORE >


Event: Festival Belluard Bollwerk International

When: Summer 2011

Where: Friboug, Switzerland

We presented the Conflict Kitchen project this summer at the Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Friboug, Switzerland with our friends Iranian artist/curator Sohrab Kashani, director of Sazmanab Project, and Afghan filmmaker Hamed Alizideh, a member of Kabul-based CSFilms. We each presented the conditions that gave rise… MORE >

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Event: Political Salon with Trita Parsi and the World Affairs Council

When: May 23, 2012

Where: Conflict Kitchen

“Trapped in a Paradigm of Enmity? The Obama Administration’s Diplomacy with Iran” Dr. Trita Parsi is the Founder and President of the National Iranian American Council and author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran Policy analysts speculated whether President Obama’s… MORE >


Event: Tehran / Pittsburgh Youtube Mix

When: 11.30a, Saturday, July 10 Conflict Kitchen (Pittsburgh) and Sazmanab Project (Tehran) presented a live screening of videos curated directly from Youtube posts shot both in Tehran and Pittsburgh.  This back and forth format utilized the vast and idiosyncratic resources of YouTube to present first-person… MORE >


Event: Ellis School Visits Conflict Kitchen

When: December 8, 2010

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Conflict Kitchen played host to almost seventy students and teachers from Pittsburgh’s Ellis School on Wednesday, December 8. Conflict Kitchen co-creator Dawn Weleski presented the project and bolani filled with spinach, potato and leeks, and red lentils were served to the guests. Afghan-American Mohammed Sidky… MORE >


Event: Live Skype Meal 2: Tehran/Pittsburgh

When: November 2011

Where: Conflict Kitchen, Pittsburgh USA/Sazmanab Project, Tehran, Iran

The Conflict Kitchen and Sazmanab Project held the second annual live city to city dinner party. The meal, held simultaneously in Pittsburgh and Tehran, invited diners in both cities to sit around long tables that were joined via webcam to create an international dinner party…. MORE >


Event: Billboard Messages

When: Dec, 2011

Where: Rooftop

“Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside of Israel.” “Like a tragic comedy, the United States government’s actions have actually helped the Iranian Government and hurt the people of Iran.” For more images of other billboards you… MORE >

Creative Time Summit 2012

Event: Creative Time Summit: North and South Korea

When: October 1st, 2013

Where: NYC Judson Church

Presentation and meal for 250 people in Judson church. Those sitting on the right side of the table were served a traditional South Korean dish while those on the right side of the table were served a traditional North Korean dish. Depending on which side… MORE >



Our Food Wrappers Feature Interviews With Iranians
Living in Iran and the United States

The War in Syria

“It was ridiculous for people to think that you could overthrow the Syrian regime and assume that there would be democracy afterwards! There is so much chaos there. You know, democracy is not the top priority for everyone – only for certain intellectuals and the west. Issues of security and basic living standards must come first.”

“Iran’s relationship with Syria is complicated. At first, I was not okay with the Iranian government supporting Bashar Assad; however, now that ISIS has come into the picture, I think it’s better to create a deal between Assad and any non-extremist opposition.”

“I’m not surprised to see cooperation between the Syrian and Iranian governments. Bashar al-Assad is playing every card in his hand to stay in power and, in some ways, Iran’s government has been doing the same thing for the last twenty years. Obviously, the U.S. is not happy with Iran’s support of Syria, but, let’s be honest, U.S. involvement in Middle East regime changes has never produced good results.”

“ISIS, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, the craziest, most extreme terrorist groups fighting in Syria, have all been founded in and funded by Saudi Arabia. In my opinion, it’s an extremely poor decision for the U.S. to call a country like Saudi Arabia an ally.”

Nuclear Power

“I don’t think a nuclear capable Iran is a threat to the U.S. or any country in the world. This is presented in the mainstream media as a scare tactic to enable Americans live in fear and justify any action against Iran. I don’t know whether Iran is developing nuclear power for weapons or energy. I am very concerned that the U.S. may go to war with Iran, which would be beneficial for both governments. The U.S. would benefit from the profit of the war, and the Iranian government would benefit by stabilizing its position among its own dissatisfied population.”

“Along with a number of Western countries whose atomic warheads are independently enough to evaporate the whole population of the world in a single moment, Iran should equally have the right to develop nuclear weapons, as well as nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

“I believe that the U.S. would never bargain its international reputation and popularity by attacking Iran, which is home to the most ancient civilization of the world.”

“Iran has been under U.S. sanctions for a lengthy period of time, long before the nuclear program. The nuclear issue, even though mishandled by the Iranian government, has became a symbol of self-reliance in the eyes of the Iranian people.”

“The negotiations in the past two years [2013 – 2015] have been the number one conversation topic among Iranians. We always start sentences by saying things like, “Inshallah, when the deal is reached, we can…” It just tells you how big of an impact it will have on our lives.”

“The average person here does not care about the nuclear power. I don’t know if it is necessary for Iran to have nuclear power. The only thing I know is that they spent a huge amount of money on this project, and if they drop it, the whole thing will be a failure.”


“Due to the Israeli government’s (mainly right-wing) policies, Israel is now a threat to the existence of Iran. I have always belonged to somewhere; had a country; a place to call home. It is really hard for me to talk about Israel or even judge its people, but I know for sure that I would do exactly what Netanyahu is doing if I were in power.”

“Actually, it’s difficult for me to believe that there is a country named Israel. I recognize Israel as a community that took the Palestinians’ land. Although, as a person who respects humanity, I would accept Israel as a country when Palestinians are allowed to have their own country.”

“Since the ‘79 revolution in Iran, there has been tension between Iran and Israel. To give you an idea about the scale of the problem, you should know that Israeli citizens are banned from entry to Iran and vice versa. The recent nuclear deal will give Iran more power and authority, and this is not what Israel wants to see. All the bombings in Gaza and the efforts of the Israeli government to start a war in Iran make the Israeli government less and less reliable.”

“So, now that the “Iranian threat” is controlled by international forces, hopefully we will see a day where Israel will give up its own nuclear weapons. Then we could imagine a safer and more peaceful future for the Middle East and, accordingly, the world!”

“Iran still has the largest concentration of Jews outside Israel in the Middle East – a neat fact to point out.”


“Generally, theocracy has the most important role in government. A Supreme Leader heads the government and is selected by a Guardian Council, a group of religious elite. A President is voted into office every four years and can serve up to two terms. The President’s decisions must be approved by the Supreme Leader. For the most part, Iranians, —and young and educated people, in particular—are highly skeptical of their government.”

“The election of Rouhani in 2013 should not be seen as an isolated incident. In 2009, I voted for Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who is a reformist, but he did not win after a suspicious vote count. Those who believed that there was vote tampering were harshly suppressed, beaten up or killed in the street. My brother and uncle went to prison. Four years later, I voted for Rouhani, as he sent a clear message to the system that the people wanted change and were fed up with the way the country was being governed.”

“In general, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’, a politically influential military group that also controls an estimated 20% of the Iranian economy, vision and mission does not overlap with those of the Iranian people. The people want the country to engage with the rest of the world and the IRGC does not. The IRGC has benefitted from the sanctions because while the private sector was shrinking, IRGC’s assets continued to rise.”


My personal favorite line is perhaps from Iranian poet Molana (‘Rumi’ in West): ‘Blessed is the gambler who has lost everything/except the desire to gamble once more’. The rhythm and alliteration are a marvel in Persian. This is used to describe a person who gives whatever they have to reach their goals despite all the hardships and failures.

All Persians are poets. They memorize poetry and quote it often. They consult Hafez every day to see what their fortune is. Sometimes it takes the form of a bird being released and a poetic fragment being given in exchange for some money.

Many poems have turned into common idioms that Iranians use in daily life without even knowing they were once poems.


Many Iranians like to eat bread hot. Seeing long lines of people in front of bakeries at 7 in the morning before work or around 6-7 in the afternoon just before dinner is not uncommon.

We have a saying in Farsi, “Nuun Juun-eh” which means bread is life, or bread is soul. Most Persians are really averse to ever wasting or throwing away bread.  If all else fails, the parents ask the children to take the stale bread outside and break it into little bits and sprinkle it for the birds. Even at the civic level, bread is heavily subsidized by the government. Not having enough bread is considered a horrible way to live, and so the whole country makes sure everyone has enough bread for every meal.


The whole appearance of young urban Tehranis is just like a big mockery of the regime’s dress code. The government can’t stop this age group from dressing the way it likes.  To be fair, I have to admit at least in Tehran, the government has become much more tolerant towards people’s appearance in the last decade.  In Tehran’s markets these days, even ‘chador,’ the regime-preferred dress for women, which is supposed to cover the body and hide its curves, has now found its own sexy design in see-through, tight-at-hips styles.



Ethnically, Persians are Indo-European, descending from European tribes who trekked from Europe, around the Caspian Sea and down onto the Iranian plateau, several thousands of years ago. Iranians pride themselves in their nation’s historical achievements, having been a highly developed civilization even before the Greeks came onto the world stage.

Persian is now synonymous with Iranian, even though there are other ethnicities in Iran besides Persian.



Iran is an Islamic country, so Iranians are not allowed to consume alcohol. Therefore, tea has a social role similar to that of alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

Let me tell you one interesting expression used by many people at least in Tehran. When someone tries to befriend you prematurely, you can say ‘Chayi nakhorde mikhad ba ma nushabe bokhore’ meaning ‘We haven’t even had tea together yet, and he wants us to drink a coke?!’.

When you have guests visiting your home, you immediately offer them tea. It is part of the ritual of welcoming a visitor. In fact, tea is always ready to serve, piping hot in a samovar, all day long. The boiling water adds humidity to the air and the smell of the tea permanently resides in the home. Maybe if Iran had a climate to grow coffee, we would be a coffee culture.  It’s a tea climate.  The best Persian tea is a good black darjeeling tea which is brewed for about 45 minutes and then served with a spoon of honey.

Nowruz (New Year)

We always receive new shoes on Nowruz, and we also put them on immediately and run to the bathroom with the new shoes on. The tradition goes that if you wear your new shoes in the house, to the bathroom, then you will get even more new shoes soon. We don’t ever wear shoes in a house ordinarily, as in a Japanese household, so wearing these brand-new shoes and walking on the Persian carpets feels illegal and intoxicating in a fun way.

 Every family grows greens in advance of the new year in preparation.  During the last days of the new year, you make a wish and tie greens together.  There is a song that comes with it that I can’t remember.  Green is symbol of life out of earth.  During the new year, you say,  “My greenness (spring) to you, my yellowness (fall) to me,” which means I wish the best for you.


Perceptions of Americans

“Unfortunately, most Americans are ignorant in global political matters and get most of their news from the mainstream media, so their opinions about Iran and Iranians are distorted by the media. Most Americans who I have encountered think that Iranians are ugly, aggressive, violent, uncivilized terrorists and Islamists.”

“Iranians like Americans but they hate American government. So far, what I have experienced suggests that Americans like Iranians too, but that they dislike the Islamic Republic’s establishment.”

“Obama was hated a couple years ago because he imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Iranian people, but now he is loved for [the 2015 nuclear] deal. U.S. lawmakers talk about the promotion of human rights, and yet they violate Iranians’ basic human rights by sanctioning them. And some of them even talk about bombing us! It’s really hypocritical.”

“Materialism is American, and I’d rather not have in my country. Also, I want my people to have social and political awareness, not like the majority of Americans—at war with Iran for years without even knowing where it is located!”

“I have a kid, and if one day he asks me about the U.S. and its relationship with Iran, I would explain to him that U.S. diplomacy has caused a lot of damage to our country. Americans are like all other people in the world, and we should not blame them because of their government’s acts.”

“I’ve never talked to an American before, but based on what I get from Hollywood and other media, American people are not very educated. Sure, there are many elite and noble people there, but compared to their population, I’d say they’re mostly not educated. Therefore, they have no idea what exactly is going on outside their country.”

The Green Movement

“I think the current green movement actually started not last year but at least 15 years ago, which is now in its final stages. It is a movement consisting of worker’s, women’s, students’ and middle class’s fractions that intend is to bring change in Iran. Of course, everybody’s idea of change is different: some may want to change the Ahmadinejad government only and some may want to change the whole Islamic system. I don’t know who the leaders are. I don’t think Mousavi or Karroubi are considered true leaders who would organize the movement’s actions.”

“I appreciate Mr. Mousavi’s efforts to democratize Iran and reform within the frameworks of Islamic Republic government. Western governments who frequently proved their hostility towards the Iranian people had better not invest in people like Mr. Mousavi who, I’m sure, would retreat from all of their claims and pledges if elected.”

“Average people who are fed up with theocracy and oppressions of the past 31 years of Islamic regime are fighting alongside the green movement, but their goal is for democracy. Under a climate of conflict, people came out to show their anger and discontent about the regime and all theocratic followers, including the green movement leaders. People chanted their own slogans and shook the pillars of the Islamic regime.”


“The younger generations are defying what the government wants them to believe. In fact, they are directly opposing the regime. In their basements they play Persian and Western musics banned in public. They read banned books and pass them on. Defying the regime’s propaganda is an honor for Iranian baby-boomers.”

“70% of Iranians are under 30 because religious leaders encouraged high birth rates after the revolution, primarily in the hopes of training a loyal group of youths and instilling them with the “values” of the revolution.”

“The government has tried to indoctrinate this new population from very early age. However, with the advent of technology, the youth of Iran have not accepted the government’s ideology and are increasingly opposing it, a trend that I think that will continue.”

Women’s Rights

“Iranian women have made some progress in the last 30 years. Their number is higher among university students; there are female parliament members and cabinet ministers. There are female CEO’s and directors. However, women by and large are still considered second-class citizens with no equal rights to men. But there is a big women’s movement in Iran that is trying to change the situation, and this movement and its members are being harassed by the government all the time.”

“Women are a critical part of the work force, just as in America. The difference probably is that Iranian women have to do more than American women because they are, to some extent, still expected to cook and clean and manage the home’s well being. Hence they almost always fulfill a double role in Iranian culture.”

“In contrast to the United States, it is illegal for women to have abortions, even under the most perilous and crucial situations.”

1979 Revolution

“The Iranian revolution was the result of most people’s strong disapproval of the then shah (king) of Iran and his way of leading the country, kowtowing to foreign powers, lavishly spending state money on himself and his family, and seemingly forgetting about the ‘ordinary’ Iranian. As a result, a host of different political factions banded together with the objective of ousting the shah. This demand for change, spearheaded by Ayatollah Khomeini, ended up bringing something completely different than what most people expected their future government to be.”

“The Iranian Revolution was a popular upheaval in response to the growing influence of foreign states on the domestic policies of Iran’s former U.S.-backed Shah, increasing poverty, gradual disappearance of religious fundamentals from the society, and social discrimination. After the revolution, the U.S. subsequently encouraged the late dictator Saddam Hussein to wage a lethal war against Iran in which at least 350,000 Iranians (including my uncle) lost their lives.”

“I can definitely say the Iranian Revolution was a reactionary step backward in our history. People went crazy and at the end and put all their trust on a theocratic fascist regime based on guardianship of the Islamic Jurists.”

Additional Resources

United States Institute of Peace: The Iran Primer

“The Iran Primer” brings together 50 top experts—Western and Iranian—in comprehensive but concise overviews of Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program.

The Guardian’s Iran Coverage

The UK Guardian’s Iran coverage is rigorous and thorough and generally better than all other British or American sources

Reel Press: History of Iran & USA in 10 min (video)

This video presents a brief history of Iran and America’s relations and the facts that have led to this political gridlock.

Cultural Intelligence for Military Operations: Iran

Produced by the US Marine corps this is a fascinating unclassified analysis posted on the site (which has a very informative section on Iran)

Library of Congress Country Studies: Iran

An intelligent and comprehensive sociological summaries of Iranian history, culture and politics

The Office of the Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei’s Website

Of particular interest here is the FAQ section where Khamenei answers many questions on Sharia laws.