Like Water for Chocolate
Mystic realism novel by Laura Esquivel
Like Water for Chocolate is a book that truly gives me goosebumps simply thinking about it.
How many novels have I read in my relatively long life? Is it hundreds or maybe thousands? I'm not sure but in this long life of reading there have only been three books that, when I've read the last page, I have turned back to the beginning and started again.
Like Water for Chocolate was one of them.
It's only recently that I have realized that all three fall into the mystical realism genre - that fascinating technique that some authors use to mingle reality and fantasy together in order to weave their magic, to create an atmosphere and to create a novel that is forever remembered.
This novel is about love but that's not all. It's also about death, relationships between women, tradition, memories, nurturing, haunting and ... food.
I see that I haven't described it well but I'm not an author. Laura Esquivel is and it is impossible for me to describe this immense book with my own humble attempts at writing. I hope that you'll read and enjoy it. When the book begins we are introduced to Tita. The setting is a ranch in Mexico where she lives with her mother and her two sisters; Tita is the youngest child and is a teenager when the story begins. The first part of the book is set in the time of the Mexican revolution.
Food, love and hatred
Tita is the cook of the family. She is assisted by the family's elderly servant, Nancha. Food is more than mere nourishment in this book. Tita's emotions and feelings make their way into the meals and delights that she creates for her family and these have positive - and negative - effects. Each chapter begins with a recipe but the recipes and food are largely symbolic and tied in with Tita's emotions and desires.
Pedro and Tita
Tita is still a teenager when she falls in love with Pedro. Her feelings are reciprocated and he asks Tita's mother, Mama Elena, if he can marry his love. Mama Elena refuses. She tells him that it is a tradition in their family that the youngest daughter remains unmarried so that she can look after the family and take care of her mother in her old age.
She is adamant.
She suggests that if Pedro really loves Tita, he should marry Tita's elder sister Rosaura, in order to remain close to the girl he loves. Rosaura has had no success in attracting a husband. Because of his love for Tita, Pedro agrees.
I can't praise this novel highly enough. I'd love to tell you just how incredible it is but that would mean that I'd be creating a spoiler. The ending of this book is one of the most wonderful things I have ever read. The whole book though, it simply a pleasure to read on absolutely every page.
Tita's love and passion enters the foods she creates. The wedding cake she makes causes all the guests to weep in despair about their own lost loves.
She makes a dish with so much passion that her other sister, Gertrudis, is powerfully affected and runs off with the first man she sees - a revolutionary soldier.
Pedro too is strongly affected by the meals Tita creates.They are now living under the same roof, and still passionate about each other despite Pedro's loveless marriage.
I'm not going to write a full synopsis of this book because I know that I can't do it justice. I don't have the ability to weave the magic that Laura Esquivel does. I can't describe the cruelty that Mama Elena imposes on the couple or her reasons for it.
Twenty years pass. Tita and Pedro still feel the same way about each other and eventually, Pedro is free when his wife Rosaura dies. At last, they are free to consummate a love that has endured for many years.Or are they?
Like Water for Chocolate was made into a beautiful film
Quail in rose petal sauce.
This is just one scene from this fabulous film.
It shows how her love for Pedro infused everything she cooked. The family, especially her mother and her younger sister Gertrudis were - to use a current phrase - 'turned on' by the love she had instilled into the meal.
Her other sister, Pedro's wife, couldn't accept it as it was a culinary celebration of love - something she was denied.What this clip doesn't show is that Gertrudis also had to leave the table as the meal had made her full of desire. She went to the outside shower - to either cool off or, how can I put this, help herself to satisfy her longing. Rebel soldiers appeared and Gertrudis, still naked, was scooped up by their virile leader onto his symbolic lusty stallion ....you HAVE to watch this film!
All photographs from stock.xchng.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson