Arroz con pollo (Rice with Chicken)

It is amazing how food is tied to memories and can take you to another time and place. When I think of arroz con pollo, I am reminded of my abuelita. From the time I was in elementary school to being in college, I can fondly remember my grandmother cooking arroz con pollo. Often times any extra my grandmother made she would let us take home to eat for dinner.

“Once my grandmother received the dementia diagnosis in 2014 and wasn’t safe to cook anymore, I no longer had arroz con pollo on a regular basis.”

As a home health physical therapist, I often serve Spanish speaking patients from different countries including Mexico, Central American, Caribbean, and South American countries. My Nicaraguan patient after our visit one particular day says Kelly you need to put on some weight you look too skinny. Don’t worry I’ll make you something for next week on our next visit. The visit next week comes and my patient after our visit says here, I wanted to thank you for all you do for me and she gives me some arroz con pollo. Under my face shield and mask, I smiled and said thank you. I felt such intense emotion as I headed to my car with the Tupperware of arroz con pollo in hand. I sat in my car thinking about the last time I had arroz con pollo with my abuelita. As a physical therapist, patients do leave a mark on your life and vice versa. Leaving your emotions at work can be difficult at times. On this particularly rough work day, I got to end the work day eating arroz con pollo. With mixed emotions of bittersweet sadness and joy, I enjoyed arroz con pollo in my car with my plastic fork. Then headed home from work thinking fondly of abuelita and that maybe she is watching over me on this particular day.

Storyteller Kelly is a physical therapist born and raised in San Francisco and in Millbrae and the proud granddaughter of Elba and Carlos Castrillo.

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