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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.