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Like Water for Chocolate (1989)

by Laura Esquivel, Alfonso Arau

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,178224483 (3.85)514
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story.… (more)
  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
    Daughter of fortune by Isabel Allende (sturlington)
  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)
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    The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel (starfishian)
  12. 00
    The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (starfishian)
  13. 00
    Magic Spells by Christy Yorke (infiniteletters)
  14. 01
    Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan (Becchanalia)
  15. 01
    Eva Luna by Isabel Allende (Becchanalia)
  16. 02
    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.
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» See also 514 mentions

English (198)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (5)  Italian (3)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)

It's funny, I have heard of this book through the years but never attempted to read it. Since I do really enjoy magical realism books, I probably should have read this before now, but ah well.

I think this may be a first for me that I did not like any character in this book, but still ended up enjoying it. Everyone was messed up from Tita to her mother, Mama Elena. Each part of the book is broken up into monthly installments with a recipe being the main focus of that chapter. I have to say that towards the end though, the book felt more hurried as if the author was in a rush. The flow at times was hampered a bit in my mind since we would often pass a huge length of time between chapters and there would maybe be a sentence or two of explanation of things that happened before.

The beginning of the story shows the birth of Tita de la Garza. Tita is the main focus of the book though we also have additional characters such as her mother Mama Elena, and her two older sisters Gertrudis and Rosaura. The family lives on a ranch somewhere near the Mexican and U.S. border. I assume that because later on in he story Rosaura and her family are forced to move to San Antonio and it seemed like this was not a long trip for them.

Tita unlike her sisters loves food and helps out in the kitchen. Tita falls in love at first sight (knew it was doomed then) with Pedro and hopes that her mother will accept his proposal for her hand in marriage. But, Tita, since she is the youngest, is forbidden to marry and instead has to live in order to care for her mother, until her mother's death.

I have no idea if this is a real tradition or not. Or if it is, it makes no sense to me at all. So what happens to the youngest daughter when she gets old? Is she supposed to go live with her other family members after not being allowed to marry or have children? I had a forget this noise look on my face for most of the story.

Mother Elena then tells Pedro that he should marry her daughter Rosaura instead and he agrees. Because in his head at least he will get to be close to the woman he loves (Tita) though he is still going to be married to the sister and have children with her.

So we have poor Tita being forced to cook for her sister's wedding and being slapped and verbally abused by her mother if she dares look sad. I was hoping in the end of the book Tita smothered her mother to death with a pillow, I am not going to lie.

Eventually through Tita's cooking everyone is affected by whatever emotion she is feeling as she makes meals. We have a wedding party that devolved into everyone throwing up for hours. We have one of Tita's meals causing her sister Gertrudis (seriously this name pained me to read every time) to have skin so hot it was causing water to evaporate as soon as it hit her skin and then caused her to run off with a man.

We only really get some insight into Tita and another character named Dr. Johh Brown. He ends up falling in love with Tita and caring for her for some time when things come to a head between Tita and her terrible mother.

I was really hoping that John would win the day, but Tita seems really focused on Pedro even though there is not one thing about the guy I would say that showed that he loved her even a little bit besides him stealing glances at her and being angry if she dared showed that she may love someone else.

The writing I thought was really good, though some of the food choices at times did not sound appetizing. I wonder if any other readers tried to cook the meals that are described in this book.

As I already said the flow was not as smooth as it could have been between chapters. And the ending I thought was too rushed. I read December's chapter over and over again since it felt like we skipped some big moments.

I thought the ending was sad since I didn't really see Tita and Pedro having some big consuming love. I thought it was selfish on both their parts, and neither one of them seemed to care that they were hurting other people. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Part fairy tale, part romance; or what modern critics call magical realism. The book has 12 chapters, one for each month of the year; however, there is no significance to the actual year/month, they are just titles. At the beginning of each chapter there is a recipe. The story takes place during a Mexican revolution in the early 1900's. Tita, the youngest daughter of the family, is destined (doomed) to be a spinster and care for her mother until her death; thus prohibiting her from marrying the man she loves and who loves her. The remainder of the book revolves around how that plays out and how Tita uses cooking food to sublimate her emotions. I feel this book promoted the usually false narrative of passionate, enduring love at first sight over the more realistic common goals/trust relationship. I find this magical realism theme throughout most of Latin American writings, and I'm not a fan. That being said, this book was a diversion and I'm glad I read it ( )
  Tess_W | Jun 27, 2020 |
I love food, and I love magic realism, and I even sometimes love sappy romances. However, I am sad to report that I did not love this book. ( )
  piquareste | Jun 3, 2020 |
Tita y Pedro se aman. Pero ella está condenada a permanecer soltera, cuidando de su madre. Y Pedro, para estar cerca de Tita, se casa con la hermana de ella, Rosaura. Las recetas de cocina que Tita elabora puntean el paso de las estaciones de su vida, siempre marcada por la presente ausencia de Pedro.
  museosanalberto | May 29, 2020 |
Read. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laura Esquivelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arau, Alfonsomain authorall editionsconfirmed
Benso, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, CarolTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mendelaar, FrancineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pernu, SannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peteri, HarriëtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toelke, CathleenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
To the table or to bed
You must come when you are bid.
Dedication
First words
Take care to chop the onion fine.
Quotations
"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”.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (1)

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Book description
Haiku summary
Tita can't marry
Pedro, so she cooks dishes
that tell of her love.
(passion4reading)

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