Title: Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate)
Author: Laura Esquivel
Year published: 1989
Genre: Fiction » Romance, Magical Realism
First lines: “Take care to chop the onion fine. To keep from crying when you chop it (which is so annoying!), I suggest you place a little bit on your head. The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can’t stop. I don’t know whether that’s ever happened to you, but I have to confess it’s happened to me, many times. Mama used to say it was because I was especially sensitive to onions, like my great-aunt, Tita.”
Synopsis: A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds. (SOURCE)
Thoughts: This one was a suggestion from my mum, who generally has excellent taste in books; a friend had also been recommending it for years. I finally bit the bullet when I had an eight-hour stopover in Singapore Airport, and very little idea of what I was going to do with all that time. I devoured it over about two hours; with a Starbucks muffin and an iced tea at my side, I sat laughing and crying in public.
This book is written in a fascinating way: each chapter begins with a recipe, and the narrative of the chapter is then woven around making the recipe. For foodies with a love of romance, this book may well be perfect for you! I understand that this book, and the magical realism at its core, might not be for everyone. When I watched the film a few days later, it felt a bit melodramatic and farfetched to me but, at the time, it feels totally right.