Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

This magical realism classic (256 pages) was published in August of 2002 by Anchor. The book takes you to a timeless Mexican village. Melissa read Like Water for Chocolate and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Like Water for Chocolate

A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Laura Esquivel, Carol and Thomas Christenen (translators)

Food, love, and passion color this luscious family saga set in a Mexican border town around 1900. This intimate story of one family is played out against the dramatic backdrop of the Mexican Revolution.

Wistful and full of magic, the tale reads like a legend that’s been passed down through generations, and it centers on the forbidden love of Tita and Pedro. As the youngest daughter, it’s Tita’s fate to forsake love and to care for her domineering mother, Mama Elena, until her mother’s death.

But Tita and Pedro fall madly in love.

When Tita felt Pedro’s gaze on her, ‘she understood exactly how raw dough must feel when it comes into contact with boiling oil.’ To be close to her, Pedro marries Tita’s older sister, and no one’s life remains untouched by this flawed decision.

To Tita, food is life. Each chapter represents a month of the year, opening with a recipe that intertwines with the characters’ experiences. Tita spends her days in the kitchen, both her gift and her curse. The food she prepares is infused with deep emotion and magical powers. Her tears, bitterly wept into the batter of a wedding cake, induce a devastating sense of longing in the guests who take a bite. A delicate sauce made of rose petals inspires incendiary passions around the dinner table.

As the plot traces Tita and Pedro’s lifelong love, we see its impact on the rest of the family and the village, including Tita’s sisters, a kindly doctor, bouncing babies, and Mexican revolutionaries.

It’s an enchanting and sorrowful story of family obligation, the things that feed us, and a desire that cannot be extinguished.

The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can’t stop. — Laura Esquivel

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