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Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water For Chocolate (original 1989; edition 1994)

by Laura Esquivel

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8,615186354 (3.86)429
Title:Like Water For Chocolate
Authors:Laura Esquivel
Info:Anchor (1994), Unknown Binding
Collections:no longer own, Read
Tags:Fiction, Cooking

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 (163)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (5)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (185)
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
3.5 stars. I liked Like Water for Chocolate, but didn't love it. I liked the style of telling the story in installment-like pieces, and the use of the recipes for each chapter was interesting - not just included at the beginning but woven into the part of the story told in each chapter - you don't even get the complete recipe until mid-way through the chapter. It depicted a series of female relationships in a family - the matriarch, the sisters and household help - which I liked, but it fell a little flat for me, as I didn't actually like any of the characters. The "magical realism" was ok, I guess, but I didn't actually think it was as well done as some I've read, so that fell somewhat flat for me also. So overall, an interesting read, but not a favourite. ( )
  LT_Ammar | Feb 10, 2016 |
5***** and a ❤

UPDATE: Sept 2013

On her death, Tita’s recipe book falls to her grandniece, who then relates the story of her extraordinary relative. The novel takes place in the early 1900s on a ranch in northern Mexico, near the Texas border. The youngest of three sisters, Tita is destined from birth to stay at home to care for her mother, denied the option of love and marriage and her own family. But her attraction to the son of a neighbor rancher, Pedro, will not be so easily dismissed.

The poetry of Esquivel's writing is extraordinary - and especially so in Spanish. The recipes are wonderful - if incomplete in their directions. Esquivel’s inclusion of elements of magical realism is seamless – as it should be. The appearance of ghosts or elements of fantastic imagery (e.g. the flood of tears) are related as fact and rather than interrupt the story, they further it. While many see this as a love story of "all-consuming passion," I see it as a story about longing - about wanting something so desperately that you are consumed by want. Tita had love with John but chose to follow longing for Pedro - to their mutual destruction.

I have read this book at least 5 times - once in Spanish. The date read I listed is the first book discussion group read; but I had read it previously, and I've read it again since. In May 2007 I re-read it for the book club that reads only Latino/Latina authors. The restaurant where we met replicated the December (final chapter) wedding feast for us. YUM

If you have the chance to see the movie - be sure to get the version that is in Spanish with English subtitles. Even if you don't understand Spanish, hearing it in Spanish will give you some idea of the melifluousness of Esquivel's language. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 8, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (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."
Last words
(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)

» see all 12 descriptions

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