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(by Pacell McCobb)

I come from a big, loud, ethnic, and a-whole-lot-of-eating family. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to make us sound greedy, but ever since I can remember, our get-togethers have always been around food. My dad is from Florida, and my mother is from Panama. I was raised about 90 percent of the time with my mother and her family.

My mother is such a great cook, and I love her cooking. I know this love of food and cooking stems from my great-grandmother, who, I am told, would always cook extra just in case a stranger would pass by needing a meal, and they would come. I feel this kind of giving and being generous with food is something of my family’s trademark. Ever since I can remember, my mother has always cooked. When I was a kid, she started a routine of cooking Sunday meals. I loved this, because every Sunday my cousin, my little brother, and I would wait for her to cook, and when the meal was finally ready, we were so hungry we would eat until our heart’s content because she always cooked in large portions just like my great-grandmother.

As I got older, I remember sometimes taking this food from Sunday to school for lunch. When I heated it up, the wonderful aroma filled the lunch area. People would ask me what I was eating, and I’d say nonchalantly (because I was used to it), “Rice and beans, stew chicken, plantain.” Or “Arroz con pollo” (chicken and rice). Or “Chile con carne” (chili). it just depended on what she cooked.

When I went away to school, I missed her cooking, and I missed her. I remember for Mother’s Day, I was broke, and I didn’t have anything but my words, so I wrote her a poem. It said:

Working back to the bone more prone to caring about us her kids than her own

Self-sacrificing hardships struggles trials come her way

But despite that

Within her motivation elevation education emerges to the surface

She is my shero

Crazy insane as she wants to be if the place ain’t clean

Mentally free to see and accomplish the unexpected

Always respected on so many levels

Rebuking devils

Spirituality exudes from her

Intelligent beautiful all that and a bag of chips

She is my shero

Black bold loud attitudinal

Rice and peas, acki and codfish (ground food)

Bakes, arroz con pollo making cooking up a storm

More like a tsunami or a whirlwind

This ain’t the end it’s only the beginning

She is my shero

Always on the go never taking always giving never resting

In all her ways in all her days caring loving

Considerate compassionate sharing what she has with others

The third oldest of her sisters and brothers

God fearing

She is my shero

She can’t stop she won’t stop doing what she does best and that’s being

Selfless Selfless Selfless

Black skin supernatural when she gets ready to go out

This woman looks damn good

She is my shero

Can’t nobody do things like she do

She is my shero

Strong lioness you see

Because she truly is the queen of her jungle

Hear her roar when the place ain’t clean

I said hear her roar when the place ain’t clean

She is my shero

Getting things done doing it right the first time

Worry worth

When daddy left holding down the fort

Always trying to sort things out

Going to the grocery store talking about how she’s gonna be right back

But instead she comes out like ten hours later talking about there was a sale or long line

She is my shero

With God’s help handling things all on her own

And at the same time always checking to make sure we (her children) are okay

She is the epitome of the word mother

I love her

And you mommy are my shero

This is my mother in a nutshell. She has sacrificed so much as a single mother, the sole provider of our household when I was a kid. This is my relationship with her, and I adore this woman.


Pacell McCobb is a voice-over artist, writer, and singer who lives in Riverside, California. She can be found on Backstage.

Veronica Hart's Panamanian Arroz Con Pollo

4 lb. chicken thighs and legs

5 c. jasmine rice

16 oz. pitted Manzanilla olives

3 15-oz. cans Del Monte petipoa (canned peas and carrots), drained

4 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

5 yellow or white onions, peeled and chopped

2 habanero peppers, in small dice

1 1/2 c. soy sauce

1/2 c. corn oil

28-oz. can El Pato Mild Tomato Sauce

In a large pot of boiling water, cook chicken pieces until tender.

Remove chicken, and when cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones, and shred chicken. Set aside.

Wash rice until the water runs clear.

Place rice in pot along with cooked chicken and remaining ingredients.

Add water just to cover the rice, and cook until water has boiled away.

Stir rice, and add a little bit more water.

Cover and continue to simmer until rice is cooked, about 15 - 20 minutes.

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