(Photo by Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93)

Radical hospitality

Notes from the free-food line.

There was a line. A long line—about 30 people long—to get into the opening of Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, the new exhibit at the Smart Museum. I have never stood in line to attend an art opening before—and certainly not in Hyde Park on a Wednesday night.

Luckily one of the exhibits was parked outside. Michael Rakowitz’s Enemy Kitchen food truck was serving regional Iraqi cuisine on paper replicas of Saddam Hussein’s china, along with bottles of Pepsi. There was a line for that too, but it was shorter. And the food was free.

As I reached the front, the person just ahead of me got the last Pepsi. “Aww, man,” I jokingly complained.

The server handed me a plate with a stuffed grape leaf, hummus and bread, and some kind of meat/bread thing with a little flourish of sauce on top.

“Hey,” he called to another server in the truck. “Where are those two Pepsis we put aside for ourselves?”

The other guy searched for a minute, then brought them out.

“Oh, I can't do that,” I said. “I can't take your Pepsi.”

“Why not?” he said. “If you don't, I'll just give it to someone else.”

So I took it.

Then I stood outside the Smart, eating Iraqi food and drinking Pepsi in the February rain, waiting for enough people to come out so that I could go in without breaking the fire regulations.

Radical hospitality, indeed.