Chapters 16–22

When a land developer unveils plans to raze a local eatery, thirteen-year-old Arturo must prove how important his family's restaurant is to his community.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. backfire
    return with an undesired effect
    I’d admitted I liked a girl, and it totally backfired.
  2. imbecile
    a person of subnormal intelligence
    Martin was an imbecile.
  3. plague
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    She was probably avoiding me like I had the plague or something.
  4. outskirts
    area relatively far from the center, as of a city or town
    Bicycle Bill sat on the outskirts of the growing crowd.
  5. embrace
    take up the cause of someone and use it as one's own
    “It takes courage to embrace change,” Wilfrido continued.
  6. confine
    restrict or limit
    My family gathered closer together, confined to our patio.
  7. prodigy
    an unusually gifted or intelligent person
    Enrique was a prodigy at Palm High, left to attend a top art school in Paris, and returned to his hometown to open a gallery.
  8. prospect
    belief about the future
    Do you think Chuchi isn’t beaming at the prospect of a whole new flock of business once my building goes up?
  9. preside
    act as executive officer
    Do you think the commissioner isn’t jumping for joy, knowing by the time elections come around, he will have presided over the biggest economic growth this town has ever seen?
  10. allegiance
    the act of binding yourself to a course of action
    You think because people go to your restaurant that they owe you some kind of allegiance?
  11. sneer
    smile contemptuously
    “Family is a competition where the strongest gets the inheritance. That is how success is taught.” Wilfrido sneered, then drew in close.
  12. sustain
    lengthen or extend in duration or space
    “‘But not to profit from the people, from the work created and sustained through their spirit,”’ Bicycle Bill chimed in as he walked to the foot of the stage.
  13. propaganda
    information that is spread to promote some cause
    “Whatever the quote, this is my festival, and I have done nothing wrong by placing a bid on this property. And you have intruded and handed out propaganda when I explicitly told you not to. Now, get this boy out of my sight!”
  14. explicitly
    in a clearly expressed manner
    “Whatever the quote, this is my festival, and I have done nothing wrong by placing a bid on this property. And you have intruded and handed out propaganda when I explicitly told you not to. Now, get this boy out of my sight!”
  15. coif
    the arrangement of the hair
    Wilfrido checked his coif and slithered out of the cell like the snake he was.
  16. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    Aunt Tuti lunged at him, but Officer Rogelio held her hack while Wilfrido adjusted his suit and sauntered away.
  17. cultivate
    foster the growth of
    I cultivate a white rose...
  18. conform
    be similar, be in line with
    She got the recliner secondhand, so it wasn’t covered in plastic, which meant it had conformed to her shape.
  19. curdle
    go bad or sour
    I imagined Abuela saying people act like that because their centers are mixed incorrectly—like a sauce that curdles from overheating.
  20. thermostat
    a regulator for automatically regulating temperature
    Before I started writing, I went to the thermostat and blasted the AC to sixty-five degrees.
  21. principal
    main or most important
    “Mami made me the principal owner of this restaurant, and I am going to do what is best for this family.”
  22. parish
    a local church community
    “She was a beacon in this community and this parish,” Father Samuel said.
  23. intimate
    marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity
    We didn’t invite more people to stay because my mom wanted to keep it small and intimate.
  24. behalf
    as the agent of or on someone's part
    Aunt Tuti spoke first, and then I was supposed to say a few words on behalf of the grandkids.
  25. reference
    the act of consulting
    “Hang on,” I said, checking my phone for reference. I typed the address of La Cocina and added historical to the search. Nothing came up.
  26. ancestor
    someone from whom you are descended
    Then I typed Merritt family and José Marti, since the Merritts’ ancestors practically founded this town, and a few hits popped up about the late 1800s.
  27. prompt
    serve as the inciting cause of
    Every time my parents told this story, they each had their version of how it went down. And it often prompted playful bickering.
  28. bicker
    argue over petty things
    Every time my parents told this story, they each had their version of how it went down. And it often prompted playful bickering.
  29. momentarily
    for an instant
    I popped my head out momentarily while my mom tapped my leg.
  30. insistent
    repetitive and persistent
    “I told her I wasn’t sure if you wanted to cook or that you were even ready yet. But you know your abuela—stubborn and insistent.”
  31. departed
    someone who is no longer alive
    “Un crespón,” she said, tying it around one of the handles. “It’s how businesses remember the departed.”
  32. dictate
    say out loud for the purpose of recording
    We got back into the car, and Mom motioned for me to take out the notepad and pencil she always kept in the glove compartment, so I could take notes as she dictated the menu.
  33. humble
    low or inferior in station or quality
    “Doña Veronica was the first restaurant who picked our humble farm over the larger chains. The gratitude we have for her can never he repaid.”
  34. publicity
    a message issued in behalf of some product or cause or idea
    “You don’t live in this neighborhood. Plus, I know you only want to come as a publicity stunt.”
  35. julienne
    cut into long thin strips
    “That’s chayóte, Arturo. We’re going to sauté it, but you need to julienne it first. Do the same thing with the carrots, and make sure to wash the onion with cold water before you cube it. Then go into the walk-in and pull out the veal stock. It needs to get to room temperature to make the broth for the oxtail.”
  36. stock
    liquid in which meat, bones, or vegetables are simmered
    “That’s chayóte, Arturo. We’re going to sauté it, but you need to julienne it first. Do the same thing with the carrots, and make sure to wash the onion with cold water before you cube it. Then go into the walk-in and pull out the veal stock. It needs to get to room temperature to make the broth for the oxtail.”
  37. intimidating
    discouraging through fear
    “Yes,” I said, because a five-foot-five-inch lady with a butcher knife the size of her forearm was very intimidating.
  38. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    My mom moved frantically around the kitchen, prepping and chopping and smelling the cazuelas starting to bubble on the burners.
  39. sieve
    a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material
    She went over to the lobster stock and poured it through a sieve to sift the chunky bits out and pour only liquid into the pot.
  40. paella
    saffron-flavored dish of rice with shellfish and chicken
    The pot steamed slightly. My mom asked me to grab the fish and clams and mussels out of the walk-in to make seafood paella.
Created on July 16, 2018 (updated July 23, 2018)

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