Pangea offers world fare for UA students' taste buds
Kevin Brost / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Asian themed decor surrounds Pangea as part of their new “world fair”, a passport oriented event where students try to eat at all the different continents which rotate accordingly every 2 weeks. Various student groups put up decorations and play their culture’s music when the restaurant reflects their continent.
Chinese lanterns, the smell of Asian cuisine in the air and students having their names printed in calligraphy were all part of the Asian Continent portion of on-campus restaurant Pangea’s World Fair over the past two weeks.
Now, the walls of Pangea, located in the Student Union Memorial Center, are bare as no UA groups have stepped up to provide the atmosphere for the South American destination of Pangea’s World Four.
As part of an effort to engage students this semester, the Arizona Student Unions is offering a chance for students to travel around the world with food at Pangea. Students can pick up a passport for the event that will be stamped each time they eat the world cuisine of a particular destination. If a student eats at all eight destinations, they may be entered to win more than $500 in prizes.
To engage students further, Arizona Student Unions is attempting to have ethnic and cultural groups from the UA provide the atmosphere at Pangea with decorations, music, booths, performances and events. For the Asian Continent, the Chinese Culture Club and the Confucius Institute from the UA provided the atmosphere for the restaurant. The South America destination lasts until Feb. 15 and the Western Europe destination begins on Feb. 18.
The Arizona Student Unions was able to connect with the Chinese groups to have them help out with the help of Noelle Sallaz, the international student adviser. Late last semester, the Arizona Student Unions provided an e-mail for Sallaz to send out to her listserv to try to get in touch with cultural group leaders, according to Todd Millay, marketing manager for Arizona Student Unions.
“We got some response, but not as much as we were hoping for,” Millay said. “We are now working with ASUA to help us connect better to those student groups.”
Aside from getting student groups engaged, the passport stamp system offers students a chance to win prizes. Although the first two destinations have passed, Pangea might stamp the past two destinations on the passport since some students are just hearing about the new concept, Millay said.
More than $500 worth of meal plan money is available as prizes, with a grand prize of $250. To enter their passports into the raffle, students must have all the destinations stamped. If students win and they don’t have a meal plan, Millay said that the Arizona Student Unions would give them a meal plan card with their winnings.
“I think it’s great that the university is trying to bring different cultures because everything is usually the same, and it’s nice to mix things up,” said Kelsey Olesen, a junior studying anthropology and creative writing.
The idea of the world fare was in place last semester, but this year it was modified to increase student engagement.
Last semester, recipes were switched daily; one day the restaurant would serve Indian cuisine, another Asian and another European. This semester, each theme is in place for two weeks so that students know what to expect and so there is consistency for the operators and kitchen staff.
“If you did something a little off the first day, you can’t make adjustments and get better because you are already changing for the next menu,” Millay said, “and the students couldn’t count on what they could kind of get for a while.”
No recipes will be repeated this semester, so students still have new things to try. Recipes are planned two weeks in advance, according to Jennifer Larsen, Pangea supervisor.
“It’s very popular [among students],” Larsen said. “The Asian was kind of neat because we cooked most of it up here a la [minute], and it was a little more showy. It’s doing very well.”
Cultured and well-traveled student union chefs picked the recipes this semester, but next semester, as long as student groups are engaged in Pangea, they could be the ones choosing what Pangea serves, Millay said.
“I think that would be great for the fall,” Millay said. “If we can get through the semester and I can get students to engage and participate here, then next semester we can let them have a say [in the recipes]. I think that would be fun for them to do, to be engaged in the food process.”