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chili queen coverChili Queen: Mi historia

by Marian L. Martinello

200 pages, 6 x 9 • Paper $22.95
ISBN 978-0-87565-613-7


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“It happened on the plaza that never slept—my favorite place in the whole of the city,” writes Lupe Pérez, to begin her memoir.


A mix of historical fact, vintage photos and maps, recipes, music, folklore, and south Texan culture, Lupe’s story offers an eyewitness account of life on Military Plaza in San Antonio during the 1880s.


Facing the impending failure of her family’s chili stand, Lupe is certain she can improve profits. But her older sister and hostess, Josefa, resists Lupe’s arguments—until Tom O’Malley, an itinerant vaudeville actor, arrives. By default, Lupe becomes Chili Queen, but each new venture presents new challenges for the struggling chili stand.


Peter Meyer comes to town from the Hill Country to pursue his dream of becoming a shopkeeper. Despite their cultural differences, he and Lupe are drawn to one another by more than romantic feelings. They share a common entrepreneurial dream, and Peter helps Lupe grow in her business savvy.


Just as business improves, word spreads of a new city hall on the plaza and the subsequent eviction of all chili stands. Where will they go? What will they do? The choice is Lupe’s to make. And her response is bold.

  • "With carefully researched details, Martinello brings to life nineteenth century San Antonio as she tells the story of Lupe, a young girl determined to achieve her dreams. The story offers a rare and engaging look into the largely unknown world of the Chili Queens."
    —Miriam Martinez, UTSA professor of reading instruction and children's literature
  • "Chili Queen: Mi historia is a captivating and historically authentic account of the life of a San Antonio Chili Queen told through the eyes of 17-year-old Guadalupe Pérez, one of the most delightful characters I’ve come across in historical fiction."
    —Cynthia Leal Massey, author of Death of a Texas Ranger, A True Story of Murder & Vengeance on the Texas Frontier
  • "You can feel Lupe's excitement . . . and almost taste the enchiladas, chocolate and poblanos as she develops her entrepreneurial ideas. Lupe takes you with her as she tests recipes, tells her stories, and flirts with love. The young Chili Queen serves you a slice of San Antonio history while she entertains you with her story."
    —Mimi Quintanilla, consultant and former executive director of the Witte Museum and consultant to city of San Antonio
  • "Chili Queen is a journey into the soul of old San Antonio as it grows before our eyes from a frontier town into a city. Rich in historical and cultural details -- backed up with fascinating photographs and documents -- we even get actual (and very tasty) recipes! Martinello's Lupita is a feisty charmer with her wealth of stories and her entrepreneurial spirit. History comes alive here, con savor!"
    —Bryce Milligan, author of Brigid’s Cloak and With the Wind, Kevin Dolan