Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece

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List of Illustrations

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p. vi

Recipes

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. viii-x

At every book signing for The Search for a Chili Queen, someone in the audience asked, “When is the novel coming out?”
My writing has typically been for teachers and young people. So, when I shared that question with my former editor at TCU Press, Susan Petty, she mentioned the Chaparral series of historical fiction for young adults. I had studied the people, their times, and their city...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-6

It all began on the plaza that never slept—my favorite place in the whole of the city. In daytime, most people on San Antonio’s Plaza de Armas, Military Plaza, were selling or shopping. After sundown, they came to have a good time.
From dusk to dawn, the plaza shimmered with the flickering light of dozens of kerosene lamps dotting the chili stands. I loved...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 7-12

Martha’s stand was crowded, raucous with cowboys, soldiers, and heavily muscled men. Their large hands were sun stained, roughened by work. Dotted among them were men of means in white shirts under suit jackets. And next to them were women in styles I had seen in the Butterick pattern...

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Chapter 3 [includes Frijoles and Pipitorias con Nueces recipes]

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pp. 13-20

We had been working all night, with little to show for it. We have just enough customers to keep the stand going, I thought. Martha makes more, a lot more. We can, too.
Among the market vendors who arrived before sunrise were a few family friends who regularly ate breakfast at our stand. A small man— with a dark, deeply wrinkled...

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Chapter 4 [includes Café recipe]

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pp. 21-26

I practiced making cigarettes until I got faster and better at it. Papá inspected each one, feeling its length and judging its quality. He selected five.
“Bueno. I think these are good enough to sell, Lupita.” He rummaged around in his toolbox and pulled out a tin that had once contained chocolate. “They will keep their shape in this. See how nice they look lined...

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Chapter 5 [includes Salsa de Chiles recipe]

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pp. 27-34

Por lo tanto, usted cree que me puede ayudar. So, you think you can help me?” Josefa huffed, her tone incredulous, her language formal. I braced myself because I had asked her to tighten my corset. I usually kept the corset laced in back. That made it easy to put on. All I had to do was fasten it in front with its hook and eye closures. But the...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 35-40

We followed Mamá indoors. She motioned us to sit on the bed and opened the trunk. Reaching down into its depths she drew out the rebozo, gently unfolding its length. She draped the colorful garment over her shoulders, turning this way and that, making the garment dance. Its delicate fringes skirted the dirt...

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Chapter 7 [includes Chili and Hot Chocolate recipes]

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pp. 41-48

He had thrown a shoe.
Lo llevaré. I will take him,” I heard Papá tell Mamá. “José will go with me.”
“I need him to help carry firewood and lift my cook pots,” Mamá said. “Take Lupita instead.”
Tiene trabajo que hacer aqui. She has work to do here.”
Puede esperar. It can wait. Take her with you. She wants to know your...

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Chapter 8 [includes Enchiladas recipe]

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pp. 49-55

At about six the next evening, Tom O’Malley arrived. Josefa’s cheeks flushed as he kissed her hand. She held it in his for a long moment before inviting him to meet Mamá and Papá, who appeared stiff by comparison to the easygoing Mr. O’Malley. I saw them exchange questioning glances. Josefa was completely absorbed with...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 56-61

Hola, Lupe. Tu estás ocupado esta noche. You are busy tonight.”
“Oh, Elena. Estoy muy contento de verte. Necesito ayuda. I need help.”
“Of course. Anything. What can I do?”
I wanted to hug her. Elena Hernández was my neighbor. She befriended me soon after we arrived in San Antonio. She was fun to be with, blessed with an effervescent personality. When she smiled, her large...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 62-70

I lit a candle to Our Lady of Guadalupe at our altarcito, our home altar, and after Sunday Mass I knelt before her likeness at San Fernando. I bore her name and felt a special bond to her. I silently prayed, asking Our Lady to bless me, to help me earn the title of chili queen.
After Mass, we went home to prepare Sunday dinner, always a...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 71-77

By morning, the drive was eight miles off course. Every man worked to hold the herd, pushing all night. Flashes of lightning keep them moving. At sunup, it had gotten bitterly cold, but the rain had let up some. The crew drove the cattle back to the camping area, slogging through water the whole way. The ground was...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 78-85

Manuel Lopez had been parking his mule team on the corner of South Laredo and Arsenal Streets for many years more than we had been in San Antonio. I found him straddling one of the rear animals in his six-mule team.
“Hola, Lupe. It has been a long time since I saw you.”
“Buenos dias, señor...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 86-95

I will go with you and Mr. Meyer on Sunday,” Josefa said as we were preparing for another night on the plaza.
“Papá has asked you?”
Josefa nodded. “Mamá cannot. The house will be full of family on Sunday afternoon. Papá says we can take the trolley. He will pay my fare. I am happy to do this for you, little sister.”
Soon after we got set up, Josefa...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 96-102

Three thousand head of cattle, four hundred horses, one hundred saddle horses, fifteen men in all, and only three six-shooters in the outfit,” I began my story. Peter had come to hear me. So had nine others now seated around our tables. Elena was serving. Mamá was patting out and grilling tortillas. Josefa had once again...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 103-109

José has left us for a cattle drive,” I explained to Peter the next night. Peter sipped hot chocolate, lowered the cup to its saucer, and looked intently at me with his striking eyes.
“He is very young. Your father agreed?”
I nodded. “Yes. It is what José wants to do. He is good with horses.”
“Cattle drives will soon be a thing of the...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 110-115

An advantage to working nights is that I rarely felt summer heat. The hottest days usually transformed into pleasant evenings. But on this mid-August Sunday afternoon, there was no relief. Even the cotton bodice I had was long sleeved and high necked, as fashion and modesty required. I spot bathed after midday dinner, then rubbed...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 116-121

By the time we returned home, most of our family had left. Mamá and Papá were visiting with Elena’s parents. Peter thanked me for a fine time, bid us goodbye, and went next door to thank our parents before departing. The house was empty and I saw my...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 122-128

In mid-September, when temperatures were beginning to ease, the gambler who had been on Main Plaza the Sunday Antonio first showed off his filly arranged the match race. He offered to double Antonio’s money if la Reina could beat a three-year-old colt named el Soldado.
“Are you sure this is a fair match?” I asked Antonio when he told me...

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Chapter 19 [includes Atole recipe]

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pp. 129-137

Lupe, tengo que hablar contigo. Lupe, I must talk with you,” Josefa said. “Privately.” There was urgency in her voice. Worry in her eyes.
Tan pronto que llegamos a casa. As soon as we get home,” I told her. “The coming rain will close us down soon. We will have plenty of time to talk at home.”
Threatening skies had emptied the plaza early this night. We had no business. We packed in haste as dark billowing clouds formed. We arrived...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 138-146

My family exchanged presents on January 6, the Epiphany, when the three kings bearing gifts for the baby Jesus arrived in Bethlehem. All through the holidays, I handled the package Peter had left with me, wondering what type of book he thought I needed. Many times, I was tempted to peek under the...

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Chapter 21 [includes Chiles en Vinagre recipe]

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pp. 147-157

I lay awake at night thinking of him. He dominated my dreams, and when I woke he was still heavy on my mind. I would rush by Mr. Kotula’s store to avoid seeing him, although I yearned to. I wondered if I would ever be able to enjoy San Pedro Springs Park again. Memories of him were in all the places we had been together. I knew by...

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Chapter 22 [includes Chile Rellena de Chicharos recipe]

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pp. 158-166

The very next day, Elena and I bought some poblanos from the produce vendors on the plaza. We selected them carefully for roasting—medium size, with dark skins and nice flat sides. The most time-consuming part was peeling their skins after roasting. But Mamá and señora Hernández gave us helpful...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 167-171

Estás muy pensativa. You are deep in thought, Lupe,” Papa said as he sat down near me.
“I was going over our accounts.”
“And? What have you found?”
I smiled at him. “Much to be happy about, Papá. We are making money. Each week, our income goes up a little more. Customers are returning, and they are bringing friends. Our chile relleno variations are the reason. Each...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 172-177

Josefa’s baby came the following spring. Papá read her letter to Mamá and me.

My Dear Parents and Sister,
He is here. My baby boy arrived at 2 a.m. on the first of June. We are both well. Gilberto is happy to have a son. We will christen the baby in a few weeks at the church in town. Gilberto’s family and my godparents are making arrangements for the celebration. I wish
...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 178-186

Where? Where do you want this to go?” Antonio asked.
I looked at the diagram I had drawn of the front room of our house on the inside cover of my account book. Then I surveyed the empty room itself. Papá was moving one of the tables that he and señor Hernández had built with lumber purchased from our profits. We...

Further Acknowledgments & Notes for Readers

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pp. 187-188

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About the Author

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pp. 189-190

Marian L. Martinello has enjoyed a forty-year career as a public school teacher in New York and California and a university professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Florida, and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), receiving several teaching awards and earning distinction as a Minnie Stevens Piper...