Like Water For Chocolate is a fantasy-type love story. It teaches a lot about family life in Mexico, the country where it took place. The owner of the De la Garza ranch where the family lived was Mama Elena, who raised three daughters on her own because her husband had died. Tita, the youngest daughter and main character, was the youngest of the three and a wonderful cook. Tita was the narrator’s great-aunt, so the story took place in the earlier part of the 20th century. Tita spent most of her life in the kitchen putting together amazing recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the help from Nacha, the cook.
One day, Tita fell in love with a young man named Pedro. Pedro and his father came to the ranch to ask Mama Elena if Pedro could ask for Tita’s hand, but the rules in their family were that the youngest daughter could never get married. According to tradition, Tita would have to stay at home and take care of her mother until the day her mother died. This broke Tita and Pedro’s hearts. Mama Elena told Pedro he could marry Tita’s sister, Rosaura though, and he did just so he could be closer to Tita. He never felt any love for Rosaura.
Meanwhile, Tita stayed at home everyday, cooking and feeling depressed, and Mama Elena did not make things any better. She always yelled at Tita, and made Tita do everything for her. Tita could hardly even talk to Pedro either because Mama Elena was constantly watching, and would yell at them every time they talked. Later, Pedro moved away with Rosaura and her other sister, Gertrudis, had run away with some man, and later became a prostitute. Nacha died, leaving only Mama Elena, Tita, and Chencha, the servant, left on the ranch. One day, Tita went insane because of her overly-strict mother, so her mother sent her with Dr. Brown, so he could take her to a mental institution. He was so in love with Tita that he never took her there. He took care of her in his house and they later planned to get married. Then, when he was gone on a little trip, Tita and Pedro met up, and got back together. When Dr. Brown came back, Tita told him the news about her and Pedro, and he told her to decide who she wanted. Obviously, she chose her long lost love, Pedro. So finally, Tita and Pedro got married, and even though Mama Elena would never talk to Tita again, she did not care. She finally got to be with the love of her life forever.
Like Water For Chocolate contained a lot of symbolism. Through her cooking, Tita had a lot of power. When Tita cooked food, she could make people’s feelings change. At Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding, the tears Tita cried into the wedding cake because of her lost love make everyone who ate the cake start vomiting, thinking about their lost loves. Also, because Tita could hardly be near Pedro when they were on the ranch, her cooking aroused Pedro, and at the kitchen table he could hardly control himself.
Each chapter of the book begins with one of Tita’s special recipes and how to prepare the recipe. Esquirel had a very unique way of dividing up the chapters. Every chapter is named with a different month of the year, so there are twelve chapters in all.
Like Water For Chocolate is definitely unlike any book that you have read before. It keeps you interested, making you never want to put the book down. You should definitely read this number-one bestseller in Mexico in 1990, that was translated into English for our reading enjoyment.