The intriguingly named Like Water for Chocolate is our latest book club choice. Written by first-time Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel, the novel follows the story of a young girl named Tita who longs to marry her beloved Pedro, but can never have him (because of her mother’s upholding of the family tradition of the youngest daughter not marrying but taking care of her mother until the day she dies). Pedro reluctantly marries Tita’s older sister Rosaura instead, but the thwarted lovers smoulder with passion and longing under the watchful eye of Mama Elena, the girls’ tyrannical mother.
Set against the background of the Mexican revolution at the turn-of-the-century, the book is divided into twelve sections tied to the months of the year. Each section begins with a Mexican recipe, prepared by Tita, who expresses her passion for Pedro through preparing delectable dishes. Tita’s strong emotions become part of her cooking and the result is food so delicious as to be an almost erotic experience for those who taste it.
I enjoyed this imaginative part novel/part cook book, although sometimes the characters of Pedro and Tita frustrated and annoyed me. To enjoy this novel, you have to suspend all sense of reality, and give yourself over to the magic realism created by Esquival. It is a quirky, creative, mystical fairy tale of a novel and if you are in the mood for that kind of thing, and I was, you will enjoy it.