Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate is a love story set in Mexico, interspersed with recipes, related in unadorned, uncomplicated language. Yet when the ingredients are combined and simmer, subtle and unusual flavors emerge. On one level, this is the story of Tita, youngest daughter of the formidable matriarch Mama Elena who forbids Tita to marry her true love Pedro because tradition says that the youngest daughter must care for her mother until her death. When Pedro marries Tita's oldest sister in order to be near Tita, it begins a life-long conflict filled with passion, deception, anger, and pure love. Interwoven throughout the narrative are the recipes, which, like an ancient Greek chorus, provide an ongoing metaphorical commentary on the characters and their culture. Finally, there is the food itself that Tita creates as head cook on the family ranch, food so vibrant and sensual, so imbued with her feelings of longing, frustration, rebellion, or love, that it affects everyone who eats it. The story is told by Tita's grand-niece who follows in her footsteps, using her cookbook and continuing a tradition quite different from the one her great-grandmother tried to impose. The combination of all these elements, food, tradition, romance, and a good measure of the super natural thrown in, enlace to form a passionate narrative where ultimate love is the string that holds it all.
Tita was born and raised in the kitchen. It is in this realm where she burst in a tidal wave of tears from her mother?s womb; where she was destined to serve a long life of solitude and emptiness. However, it is here where she also learns the most important lessons about life from ...
... middle of paper ...
...last it broke loose, it was inextinguishable.
Love places itself as the most primary yet unexplainable element in the life of Tita. Love made her feel loneliness, desperation, and anxiety. It induced her with a new way of transmitting herself: through food. Love made her suffer from bounded traditions yet it also made her triumphant after opposing cultural forces and renewing them. It made her manifest supernatural events that hold no explication, yet flourished powerfully and erotically. Love gave her a hope, a reason to cry, a reason to live, a reason to be complete. Of greatest significance, it gave her passion in bondage and in death, all created from a firestorm of desire too long held within.
Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. Trans. Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen. Toronto: Random House of Canada Limited, 1992.
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