Like Water for Chocolate (1989)

by Laura Esquivel

According to de la Garza family tradition, the youngest daughter is supposed to remain unmarried to care for her mother until death. Not only is Tita, the last of three daughters, denied marriage to her love Pedro, her tyrannical mother wants Pedro to marry Tita's older sister Rosaura. Pedro goes along to stay close to Tita.

How will Tita grapple with her feelings? Why, in the kitchen. She has a gift for cooking wonderful foods through which her emotions are somehow transmitted. She cried as she made Rosaura and Pedro's wedding cake, and when guests at the wedding took a bite, they started sobbing over lost love. 

Each chapter of Like Water for Chocolate, the first novel by Mexican screenwriter Laura Esquivel, begins with a recipe that Tita prepares in the course of the unfolding plot. In the tradition of Latin American magical realism, food prepared by Tita is more than just a meal. Esquivel blends realism with fantasy as skillfully as she merge recipes into a love story. 

Set during the early 20th century, the time of the Mexican Revolution, the novel portrays a very real picture of the restricted expectations of Mexican women. Tita's suffering is poignant but she remains true to her love and finally they are inseparable.

The story is narrated by Tita's great-niece, who believes Tita "will go on living as long as there is someone who cooks her recipes."


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