Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories about a new restaurant concept.

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Tom Bodett, Amy Dickinson, and Charlie Pierce. And here again is your host, at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

NATALIE MOLDOVER: Hi, this is Natalie Moldover. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

SAGAL: Hey, Salt Lake City, one of my favorite places. We have at least one exile here.



SAGAL: And what do you like to do in Salt Lake because it's awfully beautiful there?

MOLDOVER: We hike a lot. We try to spend a lot of time outdoors when it's warm, like now.

SAGAL: Yeah, that's good.

MOLDOVER: And, yeah, lots of festivals come through. So we try to catch which ones we can outside.

SAGAL: Right. Well, welcome to the show, Natalie. It is great to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction.

MOLDOVER: All right.

SAGAL: Carl, what is Natalie's topic?

KASELL: Waiter.

SAGAL: When it comes to restaurants, pretty much everything's been done. There's a restaurant in Japan that serves dirt. There's even a magical place here in America where you can bottomless bowls of bread and salad.


SAGAL: But this week we read about a restaurant concept that as far as we know is completely new. Guess the real eatery, you'll win Carl's voice on your answering machine or voicemail, whatever you've got. Ready to play?

MOLDOVER: Alrighty, yes.

SAGAL: First let's hear from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: In Pittsburgh, the country's most livable city, Conflict Kitchen, a local takeout restaurant, specializes in cuisine from the various countries with which the United States is or has been in one sort of conflict or another. And no, the coffee stand is not called the Christiane Amanpour.


PIERCE: This month, Conflict Kitchen is specializing in Cuban conflict foods. And no, one pork dish is not called the Bay of Pigs.


PIERCE: It also is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh to serve Iranian, Afghan and Venezuelan food. Unfortunately, given the events of the day, it looks like in the very the menu will be expanding.

SAGAL: Conflict Kitchen of Pittsburgh, serving the cuisine of our nation's enemies.


SAGAL: Your next story of a new world in dining comes from Amy Dickinson.

AMY DICKINSON: Ben Shickle(ph) of Natick, Massachusetts, first got the idea for his new restaurant when his cat left a little present outside his front door. It was a little rabbit, still warm, he recalled. Basically, I ate it. So I started thinking how cool is it to eat an animal hunted and killed by another animal. I don't know, it felt manly and recycley at the same time.


DICKINSON: Within six months, Ben had opened his eatery in Natick. At first he called it What the Cat Dragged In.


DICKINSON: But then he expanded the idea, and now it's called Hunt and Peck. here's what's on tonight's menu: duck caught by a falcon in Maine; a salmon snagged by a grizzly bear in Washington state and a goat squeezed to death, but not swallowed, by a boa constrictor.


DICKINSON: But it's not just meat on the menu. To go with the entrees they serve a nice berry compote coughed up by songbirds.


DICKINSON: And pesto featuring walnuts, hand-picked, washed in a stream and stored in the cheeks of local chipmunks.


SAGAL: Hunt and Peck of Natick, Mass, which serves cycle-of-life cuisine, if you will. Your last story of rethinking the restaurant comes from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: Mark Guthrie's(ph) mother was a terrible cook. He grew up thinking spaghetti came in hardened balls, a vegetables wasn't cooked until you could squeeze it between the tines of your fork, and chocolate chip cookies had to be smoldering when you pulled them from the oven.

But later in life, Guthrie has come to realize that as a result of growing up with bad food, he's been able to eat almost anything and enjoy it. Since his mother passed away, he's found that awful food has become something of a comfort, and he took a chance that others might feel the same way. Welcome to Stop Complaining and Eat, the hottest new addition to San Francisco's restaurant scene.


BODETT: Foodies and anti-foodies alike are lining up for the familiar tastes of their childhoods: pasta wads with tuna fish; twice-boiled vegetables; reheated meatloaf; and the Friday dinner special blackened salmon patties, and the black is not about the seasoning.


BODETT: Everything is served with pitchers of two-percent milk and tubs of margarine. The desserts include mom's smoking-hot cookies, chewy Jell-O cubes and melted Sara Lee ice cream cake. As one happy patron reported, it's so awful it makes me cry.



SAGAL: All right. Natalie, let's put it this way. I'm feeling a little hungry, maybe, You could go to one of these restaurants. Is it, from Charlie, the Conflict Kitchen of Pittsburgh, PA, where they serve cuisine that you find in the nations we hate? From Amy Dickinson, Hunt and Peck of Natick, MA, where you can get food that was caught by other food. And from Tom Bodett, Stop complaining and Eat, the restaurant in San Francisco which is so bad it's good. Which of these is a real restaurant that we found out about this week?

MOLDOVER: I'll go with the Conflict Kitchen.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Conflict Kitchen, Charlie's story.


SAGAL: The audience approves. Well actually we were pleased enough to actually speak to one of these innovative restaurateurs on the phone.

JON RUBIN: Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that (unintelligible) food from countries that the United States is in conflict with.


SAGAL: That was Jon Rubin. He is in fact co-director of Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You were right, Charlie was telling the truth.



MOLDOVER: That's great.

SAGAL: You earned a point for him. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done.

MOLDOVER: Thanks, guys.

SAGAL: Thank you, thanks for calling.


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