Serving Up a Slice of Home from Across the World

May 24, 2021

When Carolina Klauck Novaes ’23, a second-year student from Porto Alegre, Brazil, originally applied to be a cultural attaché, she wanted to share a popular traditional drink from her home called Chimarrão, a caffeine-infused tea drink. With the Cultural Attaché program transitioning to an online format this year, Emily Perry, international student adviser in Grinnell’s Office of International Student Affairs (OISA), had to get creative and find new solutions for students to share their cultures through food and drink. 

Donnette Ellis, community relations coordinator, introduced Perry and Pagliai’s Pizza owner, Joey Pagliai, to collectively create Grinnell’s first Tastes of the World event. Planning began by connecting Grinnell College students with Pagliai to brainstorm the right ideas and ingredients needed for this project. Working with each student individually, Pagliai perfected the translation of the original dish to pizzas with advice and input from the students. Together they created three pizzas that served up a little slice of home -- from Brazil, India, and Thailand. 

Klauck Novaes, brought a sweeter dish to the table: the Romeu e Julieta, known for the inclusion of guava, a tropical fruit. “I discovered something new about the recipe that I shared, which was super interesting. The name of the dessert, Romeu e Julieta, was popularized in the 1960s when Mauricio de Souza, a famous Brazilian cartoonist, drew two of the main characters of Turma da Mônica as Romeo and Juliet for one guava company. It was fun to learn something new about a food that was already so familiar to me,” says Klauck Novaes. 

Guava Pizza
The Romeu e Julieta, known for the inclusion of guava, a tropical fruit.

Divyansh Singh ’23, a second-year student from Kolkata, India, with a strong passion for fusion cuisines, presented a chicken tikka masala pizza. Sun Yuvachitti ’24, a newly arrived first-year student from Bangkok, Thailand, was excited to experiment with the flavors represented in massaman chicken curry. Each option was sold as a medium frozen pizza and was available for pick-up from Pagliai’s on a Monday and by closing time on Wednesday, they were sold out of the global flavored pizzas! 

Those who purchased one or more of the pizzas had the opportunity to taste new flavors and learn a little bit more about the significance of those flavors from the students themselves through a virtual event. Students presented about their pizzas, inviting the community to learn more about the culture and history represented in each dish. 

Taste of the World Virtual Event
Divyansh, Carolina, and Sun talked about the significance of their pizza flavors through a virtual event.

Perry, says, “It was really helpful and insightful to think about how geography, traditions, impacts of colonialism, and many other factors influence each region and the food it is known for. This event allowed people to meet international Grinnellians and learn more about them and where they come from in a meaningful way. 

“This was a great opportunity to enjoy delicious flavors and think more deeply about how food reflects culture. We look forward to creating similar partnerships with restaurants and businesses in the community that help continue to foster cultural awareness and respect,” Perry adds. 

“When the Cultural Attaché program comes back to in-person,” Klauck Novaes says, “I still want to share Chimarrão with the Grinnell community. I would also love to send more Brazilian pizza recipes to Pagliai’s, but I also hope that other students from other countries can send their own flavors as well. I would love to try them all.” 

About the Cultural Attaché Program 

The OISA’s Cultural Attaché Program invites international students to share their culture and teach others about the home they love. It fosters positive connections between the campus and local community, and it allows area residents and students a more personal way to learn about the world. In addition to this collaboration with Pagliai’s, attachés have also presented virtually to students at the Fairview Elementary and Grinnell Middle Schools during spring 2021. 

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