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Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Instalments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies.

By Laura Ezquivel

1989

A national bestseller and already a classic contemporary novel, Like Water for Chocolate recaptures the nostalgic idealized view of rural Mexico at the beginning of the Revolution. The novel has all the right elements of a timeless bittersweet love tale.

The story follows the life of Tita the youngest of three sisters: Rosaura the eldest is selfish and spoiled, Gertrudis is adventurous and uninhibited and Tita the youngest. The story portrays the increasingly challenged retrograde traditions regarding women’s duties.

The sisters must unquestionably obey Mama Elena who insist in forbidding Tita to ever marry and devote her life to look after her mother until her death as it was customary.

Tita is a vivacious girl with an uncanny culinary talent and since she never bonded with her mother, she seeks refuge in Nacha an elderly woman who cooks and looks after the girls.

Nacha teaches Tita the secrets of culinary alchemy and how to infuse her very soul into the dishes to transform them into sublime masterworks.

Tita’s life is pretty uneventful until she falls in love with the doctor’s son Pedro.When the doctor visits Mama Elena to ask for the hand of Tita for his son he is offered in return the hand of Rosaura. They both accept the deal and Pedro’s plan is to do whatever it takes to stay close to Tita, his true love.

Tita deeply resents this decision but all the same embarks in a dangerous love triangle that will bring great grief to all.

Nacha’s death, Rosaura’s wedding and the rise of the Revolution bring many changes into the sisters’ lives, revealing the true personalities and faiths of them.

Food and moreover the preparation and enjoyment of it becomes the most eloquent and powerful language through which Tita express her hopes, love, passion and even grief.

The novel is written in an old fashioned format of “instalments” as many novels used to be published and sold at low prices. Each instalment contains several recipes which have an essential role in the development of the story.

Over the years I have cooked many of the recipes presented in the novel, all of them classic Mexican home cooking staples with some seasonal highlights.

pet4Without any doubt the masterpiece is the recipe to prepare quails in rose petals’ sauce (click here to see the recipe) a dish that materializes the tender love and deep passion that Tita has for Pedro.

This dish awakens secret desires along with many unpredictable effects on those who eat it.

I have read this novel and watched the film adaptation many times, this truly is a must read, watch and cook love story!

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