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Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate (original 1989; edition 1993)

by Laura Esquivel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,606184354 (3.85)429
Title:Like Water for Chocolate
Authors:Laura Esquivel
Info:Black Swan (1993), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Read in 2009
Tags:fiction, food, Mexico, women, romance, magical realism, magic, film tie-in, adapted for the screen

Work details

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (1989)

  1. 50
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (krizia_lazaro)
  2. 10
    The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry (ReadHanded)
    ReadHanded: Food, recipes, and magic realism
  3. 10
    Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai (MaidMeri)
    MaidMeri: Desai's book is a much, much lighter read, but like Esquivel's, full of trivial yet delightful details and sub-plots. Other similarities include cooking, being repressed by one's family and eccentric, strong female characters.
  4. 10
    Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende (rhigueras)
  5. 21
    Chocolat by Joanne Harris (infiniteletters)
  6. 00
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: A breathtakingly rich masterpiece following 7 generations of the Buendía family in a fictional Colombian town bursting with magical realism.
  7. 00
    The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (DetailMuse)
  8. 00
    The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (DetailMuse)
  9. 00
    Lovesick by Angeles Mastretta (chrisharpe)
  10. 00
    The Flamenco Academy: A Novel by Sarah Bird (persky)
  11. 00
    The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel (starfishian)
  12. 00
    Magic Spells by Christy Yorke (infiniteletters)
  13. 00
    The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (starfishian)
  14. 01
    Eva Luna by Isabel Allende (Becchanalia)
  15. 01
    Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan (Becchanalia)

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» See also 429 mentions

English (161)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (5)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (183)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
A unique take on a love story. Cooking surrounds the tales of Tita and Pedro and provides an anchor for this unusual tale. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Laura Esquivel uses the technique of magical realism liberally throughout the book, employing it at many points and in many ways in nearly every chapter. While I found some of these extraordinary incidents a bit showy and maybe even at times a bit clumsy, I was very keen on the improbable events surrounding her cooking and the other characters’ reaction to it.


The first supernatural scene in the novel sets the tone for the reader at once, preparing her for the novel's practice of portraying dreamlike events in such a way that the implausible seems plausible. At the very beginning of January when Tita is prematurely born to Mama Elena on the kitchen counter, she emerges in a deluge of her mother’s tears—tears that foreshadow events to come in Tita’s life. In fact, most of Tita’s life will be filled with tears: those shed for her life long inability to be with her true love, to those shed for the unexpected death of her mentor and confidante Nacha, her nephew Roberto, and eventually her own mother and sister. In my favorite image from the novel, Tita’s birth is followed by the puddles of tears drying to reveal ten pounds of salt which is then sensibly collected and used for future cooking. This matter-of-fact approach to fantastic events such as this imply that they are not at all out of the ordinary, but can in fact be commonly found occurring in anyone’s kitchen on any given day.

Another example of this technique occurs in February during the wedding of Pedro and Rosaura. Several examples of magical realism occur in this chapter, including Tita hallucinating and being blinded by a white light induced by the wedding cake; however, the main illustration involves the cake itself. While preparing the confection, Tita is so overcome with grief and longing for her love of Pedro, she cries and cries until the batter becomes soggy with her tears. Tita’s anguish manifests itself in the cake, and everyone who subsequently eats it is overcome with the same sense of longing that had befallen Tita earlier. Ultimately, all of those dining become physically ill, and in one memorable scene, Rosaura falls and soils her white dress in the collecting pools of vomit. I feel that the author at this point is using the dirty while dress as a metaphor that shows Rosaura is not innocent in this, and is at least partly responsible for Tita’s misery.

Yet another example of magical realism is Tita’s sister Gertrudis’ reaction to Tita’s quail in rose petal sauce that is prepared with roses that Pedro has purchased for her in congratulations of being named head chef at the ranch. Tita sends her passion through the food to Pedro, using her sister as a conduit, and Gertrudis is consequently overcome with a fiery lust. Gertrudis tries to cool off in the outside shower, but finds herself running naked across the lawn in order to make love on horseback (with some great difficulty I would imagine) with a soldier from the revolution. The forever lingering scent of the fresh flowers at the site of the shower could be interpreted in many ways, possibly even as a marker for the last place that Gertrudis’ innocence existed.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel very much, and while not necessarily Alejo Carpentier or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it is a solid representation of the magical realism form. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 27, 2016 |
Romantic, erotic and totally improbable, but still true. This is one of those books that assaults you on many levels - bringing you close to the immediate action by catering to several of your senses; the very real helps make the unreal palatable. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel - Good

A strange little book, part love story, part fantasy, part cookery book.

Tita is the youngest child of her widowed mother and family tradition says that she must remain single and care for her mother until she dies, but Tita has fallen in love with her soul mate Pedro. Forbidden to marry, he marries her sister to be close to her.

The book is divided into months: each month has a recipe for meal cooked for an event or celebration. As Tita cooks these meals, her feelings are imbued into the meals and passed on to those that eat it. That reminded me a little of "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" - I wonder if the author read it at all?

Now I know this must have been set in around the time of the turn of the last century, but I found some of it a tad irritating. Pedro seemed to get the best of both worlds (mind isn't that always the way for men?) whilst Tita the worst. I guess my lack of emotion/romance means that I can't empasise or understand the idea of finding a soul mate, so I don't get the central premise of the book and therefore the romance aspect of the book escapes me. I think I also wanted a different ending, but I can't expand upon that without giving it away.

Glad I read it, but I'm not sure I get why it appears on the various lists.

Listed in the 1001 books you must read before you die http://www.listology.com/list/1001-


Listed in the 102 Greatest Books by Women:

read ( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
OK book. I was pulled into the story, it was easy to read. I enjoyed the recipes being part of the story. The romance between Tita and Pedro seemed just physical. I was kinda rooting for a different ending. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laura Esquivelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christensen, CarolTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mendelaar, FrancineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pernu, SannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peteri, HarriëtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the table or to bed
You must come when you are bid.
First words
Take care to chop the onion fine.
"The truth! The truth! Look, Tita, the simple truth is that the truth does not exist; it all depends on a person's point of view."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The original Spanish title was “Como agua para chocolate”.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038542017X, Paperback)

Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in tum-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:28 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

With more than two million copies in print, this beloved novel has become a treasured part of America's literary memory. Now, for the first time, this "tall-tale, fairy-tale, soap opera romance, Mexican cookbook, and home-remedy handbook all rolled into one" (San Francisco Chronicle) is available in trade paper with the original art from the hardcover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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