Students from the Hotel and Culinary Management programs were unable to travel to Asia for field placement this year due to the Sars epidemic; instead, they got a flavour of Jamaica. Jamaican cookery defies set definition, for the simple reason that over the years as new people from varying cultures arrived on the island they introduced foods, spices and cooking styles brought from their homelands.  One of the pleasures of eating in Jamaica is sampling the spice rich local cuisine.  Jamaica not only caters for local cuisine but also provides a wide variety of international dishes available in most hotels and restaurants. 

Virtually anywhere on the island you will pass by roadside stalls selling ‘jerk’ pork and chicken served with the traditional rice and peas.  Alongside there you will often find Patties, a Jamaican pastry filled with savoury meat, the origins of which seem to be in debate.  Some would claim they are a direct descendant of Cornish pastries, while others say the name is derived from the French ‘pate’, since the meat is finely ground.

Most Jamaican hotels offer guests a chance to taste local temptations like mackerel ‘run-down’, escoveitched fish served with festival bread, cow’s foot, or curried goat and the national dish ackee with codfish.  However, basic roadside restaurants are atmospheric places to sample simple Jamaican dishes not found on most hotel menus such as ‘bammie’ a toasted, pancake-flat spongy bread made from cassava, mannish water, a soup (said to be an aphrodisiac) made from tripe and offal, and rice and peas (kidney beans), the island staple, seasoned with onions and coconut milk. 

Students also went scuba diving, played cricket and soccer with the locals as well as visited Nigril, Ocho Rios, Dunn River Falls, and travelled through some underground caves.  The two years of banquets, gourmet dinners and fund raising were well worth the effort for 2 weeks of sunshine in Jamaica.