1. What a wonderful, thoughtful article about a really fascinating place. I love the concept of the restaurant, and the dialogue it inspires.

    “Sometimes people are made uncomfortable by something someone else has to say, regardless of who is saying it, but that’s the point. It’s okay to ask those uncomfortable questions, and we should be safe to speak our uncomfortable perspectives, regardless of what they are. That’s art.”


    1. Thank you, Paige! One thing that I feel keeps well-meaning people from talking is their fear of saying the wrong thing, of insulting someone, or asking a question for which they should already have an answer. But that isn’t what moves us forward, and neither is shutting that person out of the conversation entirely.

  2. Thank you for writing about this place. You made me want to go there and experience it in person. “Food builds bridges and keeps us all alive.” That’s the truth. Love the concept of this restaurant.

    1. Natalie, if you are ever in Pittsburgh, look me up and we can go together. They will be doing Cuba again next, to pick up where they left off, and then likely a nation or region in Africa.

  3. Possibly my favorite lines in the whole piece: Left or right, we have suctioned ourselves into vacuum chambers of like-minded storytellers. Research at University of Michigan proved that once we do interact with opposing points, whether opinion or absolute fact, as a culture we use that information to further validate our own — often incorrect — points. As this article from Boston.com points out, when “misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs.” Facts do little to warm us, but a steaming bowl of maftoul and a personal narrative hopefully can.
    I understand the complex grey area between art and politics here, and I say that the very fact that what they are doing with the Palestinian angle right now makes me a bit uncomfortable is my first indication that I need to take notice. If I lived closer, I’d shell out seven singles and pull up a chair. Powerful stuff, thank you.

    1. Thanks for those kind words, Deborah, and especially for letting this piece resonate with you. A lot of times good art— whether it’s poetry, music, a movie, or an installation project such as this— makes us uncomfortable as our brain struggles to realign our old way of seeing the world with the new vision that’s been presented. Not necessarily to change our view point, but to bring in additional information. I think that art is great for that ability, as if it has a secret code for getting past our conscious protective gates.

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