decorate, as with parsley or other ornamental foods
Cinnamon, enough to
let sit in a liquid to extract a flavor or to cleanse
1. In a saucepan, heat coconut milk until it comes to a boil. Muddle a bunch of lemon verbena leaves and vanilla beans and add to the heated coconut milk. Let
let sit in a liquid to extract a flavor or to cleanse
2. After fifteen minutes, mix the
infused coconut milk, salt, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir the mixture until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Let the combined ingredients come to a boil and keep stirring until the mixture begins getting pudding thick.
I wasn’t able to buy her more than three new outfits for daycare, but I’m glad I
splurged on this one.
She can’t remember what made that day different—if my pops, Julio, had been late in arriving on one of his yearly visits from San Juan, or if it’d been a time she’d gotten
reprimanded at work for taking too long on someone’s measurements—but this particular day she didn’t turn the radio on and she wasn’t her usual self at the stove.
small porch or set of steps at the front entrance of a house
’Buela says she just stepped out onto the
stoop to clear her head, and when she came back ten minutes later I had pulled the step stool to the stove, had a bunch of spices on the counter, and had my small arm halfway into the pot, stirring.
burn to charcoal
All that to say, nothing
charred. In fact, when ’Buela tasted it (whatever “it” was) she says it was the best thing she’d ever eaten.
inborn or existing naturally
My aunt Sarah says it’s in our blood, an
innate need to tell a story through food.
of or serving to provide incentive or stimulus to action
Ms. Fuentes has been my advisor since my first day at Schomburg Charter, and her classroom has never changed. Lady still has the same
motivational sign above her door: You’re the Author of Your Own Life Story.
full of trivial conversation
Ms. Fuentes stops mid-shade-fussing to side-eye me. “You’re always so
loquacious. It’s refreshing to have a student who believes in something other than monosyllables.”
disturb the composure of
My silence doesn’t
faze Ms. Fuentes at all. “I have a surprise for you when the bell rings—a class I think you would love.”
stylish and modern in an unconventional way
It wasn’t only that my feet ached and I cooked the
funkiest meals (they were still so good they’d make you twerk something, but definitely off the wall: macaroni jalapeño burgers and Caribbean jerk lamb tacos).
an integrated course of academic studies
She said switching me midyear into a new school would be a hard adjustment, and that since the program had a decelerated
curriculum it would affect my graduating on time.
have an influence upon
She said switching me midyear into a new school would be a hard adjustment, and that since the program had a decelerated curriculum it would
affect my graduating on time.
being of crucial importance
I know she called ’Buela beforehand to discuss it, and they must have come up with a plan, because ’Buela was quick to chime in, saying my staying at Schomburg Charter would be “
pivotal for my retention and matriculation.”
the act of keeping something
I know she called ’Buela beforehand to discuss it, and they must have come up with a plan, because ’Buela was quick to chime in, saying my staying at Schomburg Charter would be “pivotal for my
retention and matriculation.”
admission to a group, especially a college or university
I know she called ’Buela beforehand to discuss it, and they must have come up with a plan, because ’Buela was quick to chime in, saying my staying at Schomburg Charter would be “pivotal for my retention and
a course that the student can select from among alternatives
“The first announcement is that there are going to be changes to the schedule. In August some new faculty members were hired, and needless to say, it has affected class schedules. There are new
elective courses being offered for seniors, and I’m going to pass around the new course listing. The second announcement is about a new student.”
of or relating to or used in cooking
I wave to Ms. Fuentes on my way out, looking at the long list of electives. The old favorites are still there: Photography, Creative Writing, Woodshop, Dance. And there, tucked at the bottom of the list:
Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion.
devote fully to
I wave to Ms. Fuentes on my way out, looking at the long list of electives. The old favorites are still there: Photography, Creative Writing, Woodshop, Dance. And there, tucked at the bottom of the list: Culinary Arts: Spain
a spicy relish usually made with fruit, vinegar, and spices
If they put a little
chutney on the bread, or a nice garlic spread and toasted it, this sandwich would be bomb.
one who suffers for the sake of principle
martyr thing you do when you want something but convince yourself you can’t have it because of Babygirl, or ’Buela.”
of or relating to fabrics or fabric making
Schomburg has offered immersion classes before. A pre-Columbian history class that took students to an archeological site in Mexico, a fashion design class that took students on a tour of old
textile mills in New England.
a sudden sharp feeling
And sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the
pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t.
the kinship relation between an individual and progenitors
Aunt Sarah has shared some baby pictures of my mother and her as children, and I like to think I can see that
lineage in her button nose, the seashell of her ears.
distort or make false by mutilation or addition
I nod at Babygirl as she
garbles out a summary of the choo-choo trains book.
a shelf that projects from the wall above fireplace
’Buela dusts off the family photos on the
feel bitter or indignant about
Although ’Buela never said anything to make me feel ashamed, I always wonder if she thinks I’m fast. If she secretly
resents me for Babygirl.
subject to sharply varying moods
I hold my hands up in surrender. Did I mention that my sous chef is
smother or suppress
I pause. Not sure what she means by “a little late” and not sure I want to find out. “Yeah, I guess. That was a long time ago. These days, I don’t need anyone to
stifle my creativity.”
a necessary commodity for which demand is constant
I started playing around with the
staples of the house: rice, beans, plantains, and chicken.
a banana tree bearing hanging clusters of edible angular greenish starchy fruits; tropics and subtropics
I started playing around with the staples of the house: rice, beans,
plantains, and chicken.
having an illustrious reputation; respected
I expected her to mention the magnet school with the most
prestigious culinary arts program in the city.
the art and practice of preparing and eating good food
I’d already done some googling in the library and knew it was the best school around, with restaurant-management classes and
gastronomies—all kinds of fancy courses.
tending to persuade or interest by forcefulness of argument
Ms. Fuentes says the topic should be “
compelling,” but how am I supposed to know what compels a college admissions person?
to or in a foreign country
She moves closer to me. “You’ve talked so much in Advisory about how you love to cook. I think taking this class and traveling
abroad will be an amazing opportunity.”
the quality of conforming to rules of propriety and morality
He doesn’t even have the
decency to pretend he’s not all in my business.
a person who meddles in the affairs of others
I was so nervous about a
busybody neighbor seeing me bring a boy home that we went all the way to his house in Mount Airy while his parents were at work.
something added to complete or embellish or make perfect
I plated them with no
accompaniment and I ate and ate until there was nothing left on my plate but a smear of oil.
showing faith in magic and ignorance of the laws of nature
I didn’t know what kind of future I would be handing down to my daughter by pressing a name on her from the past. ’Buela raised me pretty
superstitious about things like that.