New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Hispanic Heritage Month: Arroz, chuletas, amarillos and a dash of love

When dining hall food gets tiring, I daydream about being in Puerto Rico watching my mother cook.
Max Van Hosen
Arroz con chuletas includes ingredients like rice, pork and plantains. (Illustration by Max Van Hosen)

I’m in my childhood bedroom, waking up from an after-school nap. The only thing that breaks me out of my groggy state is my grumbling stomach longing for food. In the kitchen, my mother lays out all of the ingredients for the meal she’s about to prepare: arroz (rice) with chuletas (pork chops) and amarillos (plantains). It’s my favorite Puerto Rican dish and one of the things I miss most about home.

My mother shuffles back and forth as she gets everything ready, with the latest Karol G song blasting from our Amazon Alexa. It’s mesmerizing seeing her do everything all at once, including talking on the phone with a friend as they update each other on the latest gossip.

I’ve daydreamed about my mom’s food ever since I moved to New York City — it’s the only distraction that helps me stomach NYU’s unseasoned dining hall food. I would give anything to sit across from my mother in our kitchen, just watching as she prepares dinner for me and my brother on a random weeknight.

I’ve always found it funny that my mother uses measuring cups when she cooks, because most Puerto Ricans always do everything a ojo, or by eye, just like my grandma. Cooking is like a second instinct for her. She never measures anything, and instead simply pours the amount that “looks good” for each ingredient. She knows what she’s doing — her food always ends up being lick-your-fingers good.

My mother’s love language is preparing food for others. This sort of runs in the family — my grandma is the same. Their way of loving you is feeding you. Each time I think of how food used to be back home in Puerto Rico, I am transported to different memories, each marked by immense love and care.

I am brought back to when I was 5 years old, and my grandma would set out food for me in a little bowl. If there’s any dish I am going to scrape to the last bit, it will always be one that my grandma has made.

I am brought back to the days after Hurricane Maria. My extended family had nowhere to stay since their houses had been completely flooded, so all 14 of us squeezed into my house. We gathered together each night to prepare dinner, and my house was filled with laughter along with the incredible smell of chuletas on the stove.

I am brought back to my last day in Puerto Rico before moving to New York City for college. My grandma had prepared arroz con chuletas y amarillos for all of us — my cousins, my aunts, my nieces, my parents and my brother. The sweet and salty explosion of flavors, balanced out by the cooling avocado slices served on the side were my last taste of home before packing everything up and leaving for bland dining hall pasta.

I miss the food, but more importantly, I miss the people who prepared it for me. I miss knowing that this food was made for me to enjoy. I miss my grandma giving me a plate with three times as much as would fit in my stomach. I miss my mother, dedicating the little time that was left in her day to feeding me.

The affection that goes into each Puerto Rican or Latinx interaction cannot be overstated. I jump at every opportunity to create bonds with people who speak Spanish here at NYU. I love forming relationships with the Spanish speakers in the dining halls — those little exchanges of “¿cómo estás?” never fail to make my day a little brighter. This connection is embodied in Puerto Rican food, where every bite feels like a warm embrace from a loved one. I can’t go a day without thinking about how much I miss food from home.

I would give anything to be around my mother, just watching as she cooks arroz con chuletas y amarillos. Not simply because of the excitement of getting to eat an incredibly delicious meal, but because I know she would be there sitting next to me.


Arroz con chuletas y amarillos

Cook time: 35 minutes

Servings: 4

Difficulty: Involves a lot of multitasking, but it’s doable if you’re patient!


Arroz (rice)


  • 4 cups white rice
  • 4½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt


  1. Bring a large pot with the water and vegetable oil to a boil.
  2. Rinse the rice thoroughly.
  3. Once the water starts to boil, add in the rice.
  4. Leave the rice on the stove until all the water evaporates.


Chuletas (pork chops)


  • 4 pork chops
  • Goya adobo seasoning
  • 1 packet of sazón Goya
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Using a fork, poke holes on each side of the pork chops.
  2. Rub a little bit of oil onto each side of the meat chops. This will make the seasoning stick.
  3. Cover the meat liberally with adobo and sazón on each side.
  4. With the stove on medium-high, pour vegetable oil into a deep pan.
  5. Once the oil heats up, place the chuletas in the pan. The oil should be level with the meat.
  6. Flip the chops over every few minutes for 20 minutes.
  7. Once the chops are golden on each side, remove them from the pan.


Amarillos (plantains)


  • 2 ripe plantains
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Cut the ripe plantains diagonally.
  2. Place the sliced plantains in a pan shallowly filled with oil.
  3. Once the oil heats up, place the plantains in the pan. Flip them every few minutes until they turn golden brown, then remove from the pan.


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