I truly love to read. When I find a good book, I want to share it with my friends.
It may have taken a few years, but I finally discovered (or was given) Like Water for Chocolate. I enjoyed the story so much, that I want to share it with you.
The story takes place on a ranch on the Texas/Mexico border in the late nineteenth century. Mama Elena is the widowed matriarch of the family. She has three daughters named Rosaura, Gertrudis, and Tita.
The story revolves around Tita, who as the youngest daughter, is sentenced to a life of service for her mother. Tita will never be able to marry or have children as she is bound to her mother's every wish and whim until the day Mama Elena dies.
What makes fifteen year-old Tita's situation more tragic is that she is deeply in love with a young man named Pedro. When Pedro comes to ask Mama Elena for permission to marry Tita, the matriarch says no. She offers Pedro seventeen year-old Rosaura instead. Pedro agrees to marry Rosaura, though only to be near Tita, his true love.
Like Water for Chocolate is the story of forbidden love between Tita and Pedro. Mama Elena knows the score and makes sure Pedro and Tita are never alone anywhere on the ranch. Tita is forced to stay in the kitchen and prepare the family's meals.
Laura Esquivel's book is billed as A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies. In my opinion, this format is brilliant and unlike anything I have ever seen before.
As stated, the story is divided into 12 sections (January, February, etc.). At the beginning of each chapter is a recipe derived from authentic Mexican cuisine. One way or another, each dish is featured in a month of the story. For example, the month of February features a Chabela Wedding Cake recipe. This happens to be the cake served at Pedro and Rosaura's wedding, and Tita is the one who makes the cake.
What is so amazing to me is how Ms. Equivel is able to create such sensuality in her descriptions of food. For example, in the month of March, Pedro gives Tita some roses. Mama Elena orders them to be destroyed. Tita decides to use the roses in a dish she is making for dinner. Though the whole family will feast, the Quail in Rose Petal Sauce is really for Pedro alone. However, somehow Gertrudis has intercepted the sexual energy between the two lovers and the dinner table. Esquivel describes the scene as such:
With that meal it seemed they had discovered a new system of communication, in which Tita was the transmitter, Pedro the receiver, and poor Gertrudis the medium, the conducting body through which the singular sexual message was passed.
Throughout the book, the food is described in such detail, that I could taste every flavor. As a reader you can't help but be affected by the sexual energy yourself. Romance authors should take note of the words Ms. Esquivel chooses. She conveys sensuality without all the raunchy sex that many authors elect to use in their books.
Ok, I know I keep talking about the sexual energy, but I swear there's more to the story. Like Water for Chocolate was originally written in Spanish. Carol and Thomas Christensen translated it in to English. In my opinion, their efforts are successful as many of the original Spanish nuances remain.
There is a bit of legendary storytelling in Like Water for Chocolate and you should appreciate that if you are to enjoy the book. For instance, after becoming all hot and bothered by eating the Quail in Rose Petal Sauce Gertrudis takes a shower to cool off. However, her body is hot and sizzling with desire and she sets the outdoor shower on fire, burning it to the ground. Another example is the quantity of Tita's tears, which are capable of creating streams of water that run down stairs.
I have read many, many books, After a while, they all start to look the same. Many of the characters and plots fuse together as one. I can honestly say that Like Water for Chocolate is worthy of praise because it stands alone. It is a unique, entertaining, passionate story. It is also the reason I keep reading and hunting for great books.
I highly recommend this book to my friends and fellow readers. It would make a good gift, though I am not sure men would enjoy the story as much as women would. Yes, I know there is a movie out there with the same title, but I urge you to read the book. There is magic woven throughout the tale, to which my descriptions can't do justice. Enjoy.