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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

UNC Asheville brings a taste of France to campus

Ellie Struble holding her France-shaped charcuterie board.
Ellie Struble holding her France-shaped charcuterie board.

On Tuesday, the Asheville Campus Entertainment group invited students to sample meats and cheeses with their Build-A-Board charcuterie event. ACE hosted the event on the bottom floor of the Highsmith Student Union building.

“I think people love charcuterie because of the combination of all the different flavors. It reminds me of the Tik-Tok trend Girl Dinner,” said Mackenzie Bower, ACE’s director for student engagement.

Charcuterie is a French word for the branch of cooking devoted to preparing primarily pork-based cured meats such as salami, sausages, ham and prosciutto.

“We also had options that were gluten free and vegan. Some healthy options like fruits and veggies paired well with savory items like cheeses and meats,” Bower said.

Bower said she found all the food at Aldis, and easily found a variety of fruit and vegetable based options for students who didn’t want to eat so much meat or pork.

“It’s a healthy option depending on what you put on your board. You can make a meal out of it. Charcuterie can be an appetizer, a snack, a whole meal or anything you want it to be,” said Alex Hollifield, co-director and associate director of leadership education and development at UNC Asheville.

Students had a range of meat and cheese options to choose from to make their plates. These included meats like salami, gouda and pepper jack, and cheese such as gouda, cheddar and mozzerella. ACE Special Events Coordinator Ettie Lyles said she wanted to include even more options for students.

“We had the typical stuff like salami pepperoni and summer sausage. We tried to stick just to the hard cheeses so we could avoid a big mess with stickier items like honey and brie cheese,” Lyles said.

According to Lyles, ACE wanted to do a Charcuterie event last semester but weren’t able to due to time constraints.

“People love food, and we thought we’d try a charcuterie event since we didn’t get the chance last semester,” Lyles said.

Ettie said she contacted Hollifield to help with the event, due to her experience and knowledge on making and serving charcuterie boards. Hollifield said she creates charcuterie boards for her friends and family in her spare time.

“During the pandemic when everyone was getting random food hobbies, I was drawn to charcuterie boards and started making them for my husband and our friends at home,” Hollifield said.

Hollifield was at Build-A-Board teaching students how to make more visually appealing boards and arrangements for their charcuterie.

“It started as a way I could feel more normal during such a challenging and uncertain time. It also let me channel some creativity into a hobby that’s almost like an artform,” Hollifield said.

The appeal of building their own board caught the attention of dozens of students who came to the Grotto and participated in the event. 

“I honestly didn’t know there was something happening. I just walked in, and there just so happened to be an event going on,” said Paul Ramsey, a 24-year-old Biology student.

Ramsey said he enjoys social events like Build-a-Board, because they encourage students to step out of their comfort zones when it comes to socializing. 

“Being a bit older, I can see for my younger peers that it’s not as easy for them to socialize. A setting like this where there’s a clear reason to be together helps a lot. During events like this I see more groups of people, rather than a bunch of people by themselves,” Ramsey said.

Apart from the social aspect, students were able to enjoy the event from a cultural perspective as well. Ellie Struble, a Senior at UNCA, said she enjoyed the event for its cultural roots in French cuisine.

“It’s around my 1-year anniversary since I studied abroad in France. Coming and having a charcuterie board with everyone here really sent me back to my days in France having food like that all the time,” Struble said.

Struble said she spent 4 months in Angé France, and views events like Build-A-Board as being important for herself and other students, because they help students engage and connect with one another.

“If another cultural event like this happens on campus, I encourage people to go. There are different tastes, people and experiences to be had,” Struble said.

Struble said she encourages any student to branch out and study abroad in order to broaden their cultural horizons.

“After living in France, I just couldn’t say no to coming here today and having some fun making a charcuterie plate with everyone,” Struble said.

According to Ramsey, the only part of the event he didn’t like was that the food had to run out eventually.

“It’s been pretty good, free food is always a plus. The only thing I disliked was not being able to get as many second plates as I wanted but that’s understandable,” Ramsey said.

ACE is hosting a variety of events over the course of the semester, including a silent Disco on Feb. 3, and Proposals and Pizza on Feb. 6, where they will take student proposals and suggestions for events in the Fall. They encourage any and all students to come participate in upcoming events.

“I love goat cheese, crackers and cheese, pretty much any cheese. I’m just a big cheese gal, if I could bathe in goat cheese I would,” Bower said. 

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