What’s better than a good love story? How about a book about recipes? Or a book that takes you to a specific time or place in history? What about a book with magic and humor?
Like Water for Chocolate combines all of these amazing ideas into one fantastic novel! Set during the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900s, Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies tells the passionate love story of Pedro and Tita alongside traditional Mexican recipes.
Tita de la Garza, the youngest daughter of a harsh and demanding mother, loves to cook and finds comfort in familiar recipes from her childhood. According to family tradition, the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and take care of her aging mother until death. When Tita’s mother refuses to let Tita and Pedro marry because of this tradition, they begin a secret love affair filled with magic, tragedy and adventure.
“It was very pleasant to savor its aroma, for smells have the power to evoke the past, bringing back sounds and even other smells that have no match in the present.” —Laura Esquivel
Each chapter of the book features a traditional Mexican recipe, starting with one of Tita’s favorites—Christmas Sausage Rolls. The chapter begins with a list of ingredients and instructions on how to prepare the rolls. As we learn about the recipe, we also learn about Tita’s life. Each recipe connects to a time when she cooks that particular meal, like cooking Christmas Rolls on the day Pedro asks for her hand in marriage. All of the recipes sound amazingly delicious, and the author, Laura Esquivel, describes the food so well you can almost smell and taste it!
Along with tons of cooking, Esquivel also fills Tita’s story with magic. A lot of people describe this as “magical realism,” featured in a lot of Latin American literature, which feels like folk-tale or fairy-tale magic. The impossible happens every day in Tita’s world, like angry chickens turning into a tornado or Tita’s knitted shawl that becomes so huge that it covers the entire ranch. Tita’s cooking is also a form of magic, since her feelings and emotions can influence the meal. Like when Tita’s tears fall into a cake and the party guests all feel intense sadness and longing after eating it. Or when her happiness while preparing a meal causes intense euphoria for everyone who tastes it.
I love this book in so many ways. Esquivel creates a vivid setting with descriptions of Mexican life and traditional cooking. The book has a lot of humor without being silly, and the romance is sincere and sensual. Of course the magical elements make the story even more exciting, because literally anything can happen! This is a great book to read in a book club or alongside a friend, because there is so much to talk about and discuss! There’s also a movie version, which lets you experience even more of the amazing Mexican food.
Happy reading (and cooking)!
Experience the magic of Tita’s WorldCheck out Like Water for Chocolate!
Adina enjoys cooking and eating (mostly eating), ranting about books and watching movies with her friends. You can find her working at the West End branch or relaxing in her cozy apartment.