Highlighted as one of the main novels of the 20th century by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the work of the Mexican author Laura Esquivel, Como agua para chocolate or in english Like water for Chocolate, is a pink novel that, combined with magical realism, tells us a passionate melted love story with culinary art.
Summary and Synopsis
Our story is set in Mexico, exactly in Piedras Negras, during the time of the Mexican Revolution, a political state that is sublime reflected in the character of the characters.
The story of the protagonist Tita, the youngest of three sisters, is followed. She cried from birth and the only thing that calmed her was the smell of soup. Therefore, as he grows older, he develops incredible culinary skills, always with Nacha, the cook.
Then, in the prime of her adolescence at the age of 15, Tita falls hopelessly in love with Pedro, who feels the same way about her. However, when he goes to ask Tita’s mother for his hand, she denies it and instead offers him that of his older sister, Rosaura. The mother considers that because Tita is the youngest, she must take care of her forever. So Pedro accepts just to be able to be close to Tita.
In time, Pedro and Rosaura conceive a son, but Rosaura cannot take care of him since she is very ill. The wet nurse dies and the one who takes care of the child is Tita.
Plus the mother suspected that Tita and Pedro were seeing each other so she decided to send them to the city. While there, the boy dies and this causes deep despair in Tita, being sent to Dr. John’s ranch to be treated.
There, she becomes the head of the cooks and finds a way to free herself from her yoke and to express her feelings through the kitchen and with her food she implied everything that her soul kept. She released all the feelings of pain caused by her mother, sister, and new husband.
Tita, after Nacha gave her a secret for the kitchen, cooks quails in a rose petal sauce (flowers that Pedro had given her), releasing an aphrodisiac effect in the food in which Tita, Gertrudis (the sister) would fall deeply middle) and Pedro.
Between the first two, sexual tension becomes completely evident, which they only share with their eyes and complement each other with food. While Gertrudis is kidnapped by a general and runs away with him, naked, only to end up working dishonestly.
After this, Nacha dies and when Gertrudis leaves, Tita is completely alone.
In the book, food is one of the most powerful elements, since it reflects implicitly important feelings and actions that are not noticed with the naked eye, deeply affecting the characters’ intentions.
The story that occurred in Como agua para chocolate is related by the daughter of Esperanza and Alex, who is involved with the recipes she acquires from her great-aunt in an old recipe book that was saved from a burial.
Genre: Pink novel
This novel, published in 1989, broke to some degree with the standards of the typical “romantic” or “pink” novel, while continuing to fulfill its main characteristics, which are that the center of the plot revolves around the romance story of two characters who desperately fight for his love and for him to succeed in the end.
However, it is also classified in the sub-genre of magical realism novel, since it manages to combine magical elements in the work without the magic being seen with the naked eye, intertwining them with the historical moment that Mexico was going through and with the country’s own customs.
- Tita: Main character. She is obliged to take care of her parents because she is the youngest. He has a special culinary ability where he can make you feel from the deepest sadness to the greatest desire through his food. She is in love with Pedro and fights all her life for his love.
- Pedro: When he meets Tita, he immediately falls in love with her. He tries to ask for her hand, but he must marry Rosaura. Father of Roberto and Esperanza.
- mother Elena: mother of Rosaura, Gertrudis and Tita. A tyrannical and unfair mother. In a selfish way, he does not allow Tita to marry Pedro so that he can take care of her in his old age.
- Rosaura: Tita’s sister and there has always been a rivalry between them. She tries to lean on her mother to mistreat Tita and does dramatic scenes to get her husband’s attention which obviously shows more interest to Tita.
- Gertrudis: sister of Tita and Rosaura. She unleashes her wishes after trying one of Tita’s meals. It attracts with its scent a general and he “kidnaps” it. Then he works in a brothel and later joins the war.
- Nacha: the family cook and who teaches Tita all her recipes. Basically she is the mother figure and confidant of Tita in the story until her death.
- John Brown: He is a widowed doctor with a son. He falls head over heels in love with Tita and helps her get through her depression. However, Tita is not able to reciprocate. He dies from the bite of a snake that links him to his indigenous ancestors.
- Esperanza: she is the daughter of Pedro and Rosaura. Who was going to be forced to remain single so that the tradition could continue, plus Tita intervenes so that this does not happen and marries Alex Brown. He is the one who tells the story.
- Alex Brown: He has always loved Esperanza and then they get married. Later they move to the United States.
This book contains prose that could be called violently emotional. It is the analysis of a society that is determined to revolutionize itself without losing sight of love.
Much has been speculated that the main characters, especially Mama Elena and her daughters, represent on a smaller scale the historical event through which she was going through. In other words, a revolution within the revolution.
The mother representing the role of the oppressors of rights and the prevailing machismo, while the daughters represent the social classes that desperately seek a way of freedom and of living.
Phrases from the book
“The bad thing about crying when you chop onions is not just crying, but sometimes you start, like someone says, itches, and you can no longer stop.”
“But what is decency? Deny everything you really want? “
“Necessity is the mother of all inventions and all postures.”
“Each person has to discover what their detonators are in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul with energy.”