The latest iteration of Conflict Kitchen marks a departure for the take-out venue, which serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Prior incarnations of the menu included balal from Iran, empanadas from Cuba and kimchi from North Korea. But this month, the Oakland eatery debuts its first North American cuisine with its Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, menu.
The conflict might not be “current” in the same sense as the others, but to Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen’s co-director, it’s an “eternal” conflict rooted deeply in the founding of the country, and worth exploring.
“There are 562 indigenous nations throughout the U.S., and they have their own separate language and culture and culinary histories,” says Weleski. “We wanted to be a part of that discussion and provide an outlet for that.”
The idea took off after a very successful short-run Haudenosaunee menu on last year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day, featuring many similar dishes to this year’s incarnation.
The Haudenosaunee menu, which will run through spring with seasonal changes, includes dishes like the already popular neogë’ wade’sgöndak, a “cranberry- and juniper-braised venison served with broiled potatoes”; gahgwahgi:’da:h, or fry bread; and the drop dumpling with fruit desert, o’hösda’ onyögwi’sä’.
“A lot about this menu is about tasting the potato, tasting the squash, tasting the corn, which is a huge departure from [previous] Iranian menu which [was] heavily flavored with herbs and spices,” says Weleski. “This is about tasting the elemental nature of the food.”
Correction: an earlier version of this piece falsely classified Hodinöhsö:ni’ as a member of the Iroquois. Hodinöhsö:ni’ is another spelling of Haudenosaunee, which is synonymous with Iroquois.