Cayman student finds recipe for success

Brings flavors of Cayman to Hungary

As a medical student in Hungary, Amber Martinez learned to cook her favorite Caymanian foods as a reminder of home.

Now, the 25-year-old is bringing those Caribbean flavors to a whole new audience.

Ms. Martinez is one of 50 international students, from 45 countries, whose recipes feature in the University of Pécs’s new multi-cultural cookbook, titled “50 Delicacies on Earth.”

While Hungary is typically known for its goulash, a rich beef and vegetable stew, Ms. Martinez says the vast body of international students at the university, in the relatively small city of Pécs, are bringing new ideas to the local culinary scene.

Students from as far afield as Jordan, Japan, Nigeria and Cameroon have contributed to the cookbook, which will go on sale across Hungary after a launch event at the university next month. She submitted her recipe in October last year and was selected to be part of the project.

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Ms. Martinez said the students were invited to cooking sessions with renowned Hungarian chef Lokodi Akos.

“I was able to cook it up with Chef Lokodi, and they took some pictures for the book,” she said.

“Whenever you work with someone who is an expert in their field, it can be intimidating, but he let me take the lead and he watched and assisted.”

Ms. Martinez, a former Cayman Prep and High School student, completed her International Baccalaureate in Canada and her undergraduate degree in Miami. She is in Hungary pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor.

She said she learned to cook Caymanian food to prevent homesickness.

“When I first wanted to cook rice and beans, I had to call my mum for assistance,” she said.

“Living so far away from home, I crave those foods to get those feelings from home.”

Given the choice, she said she might have made oxtail or salt beef, but not all the necessary ingredients are available in Pécs, so she opted for a favorite Caribbean staple, curry chicken, with a Caymanian twist.

Ms. Martinez said it was an interesting experience studying in Pécs. She said the growing international student body, currently numbering more than 4,000, helped make the city a vibrant place to be.

“It is becoming more diverse. We are starting to be able to get yams and plantains. It is a little taste of home,” she added.

Ms. Martinez will have the chance to cook her dish at a launch event for the book in March that is expected to attract 3,000 people.

She has three more years of study to complete her medical degree. She is also International Student Ambassador at the University of Pécs Medical School.

“I am extremely excited to represent both my country and the University in this capacity. As a student ambassador, I share firsthand experiences with prospective students, and give advice to newly accepted students as they prepare for their move to a new country,” she said.

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