Study Guide

The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica Spanish

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As the title suggests, you need two things to make a Latin deli both Latin and a deli. Food? Check—see "Symbols: Food." Latin? Check—as in, check out all the Spanish vocabulary that this poem is rocking. Those words are there to remind us that, just like food, language plays a pivotal role to connecting us to our sense of home.

  • Line 17: It's interesting that the first word we get in Spanish is "dólares." The poem could have used "dollars," but instead we get the Spanish word to explain the Latin motivation for coming to the U.S. to make money and earn a better life. It also, in a way, hints at the trouble that accompanies this decision, since "dólares" is very close to the Spanish word for pains: "dolores."
  • Lines 18-19: These lines don't contain any actual Spanish, but they state outright why the Spanish language is so important to the deli's customers. It gives them a sense of home.
  • Lines 26-28: The Spanish words for these sweets are so evocative to the shoppers that they are, in this simile, like lost loves.
  • Line 30: You can order up your ham and cheese at the A&P. Or you can enjoy "jamón y queso," a totally different culinary experience. Not only is the packaging different, but the use of the Spanish words here reminds us that this food is taking folks back to their roots.

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