- Book: Like Water for Chocolate
- Location: Coahuila, Mexico
- Author: Laura Esquivel
The novel is set in early 20th Century Coahuila in Mexico. Revolution under Pancho Villa is rumbling along… In an isolated ranch there are two generations of women, soon to be three and four as the story unfolds. Like Water for Chocolate has long been a go-to book set in Mexico.
There is a family tradition in the ranch that the youngest female child may not marry as she has to grow up to take care of her mother. Tita is that child and Mama Elena is a despicable and cruel mother. Tita has already found the man she would like to marry – Pedro – but she is forbidden to do so and thus her elder sister Rosaura has the pleasure of becoming his spouse. He, however, on their wedding day, confides in Tita that he has only agreed to this match so that he can remain close to her. A match made in heaven! (It’s hard not to think of this as an abomination but the author whimsically carries off this tragicomedy with a lightness of touch).
Each chapter – and there are 12 to mark each month of the year – beautifully opens with a decorated inset page and a recipe pertinent to events and the time of year. It is a novel of monthly instalments, very much with food, romance and home remedies at the heart. It has been the number 1 bestseller in Mexico for a couple of years.
Food is the salve to heartache and life’s vagaries. This is a story with elements of magic realism that explores the nature of love and yearning with humour and, yes, with love.
This is a delightful read, charming and clearly inspired by the tradition of Don Quixote.