Hispanic Cuisine: a Significant Ingredient in Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Hispanic Cuisine: A Significant Ingredient in Like Water for Chocolate

Eating is a fundamental activity. Food, itself, is a major component of survival, for without it there would be no life on this earth. Throughout the evolution of man, it has come to have a greater importance with multiple significances to human beings. In fact, it has become a defining factor for families, classes, and cultures all through history. Hispanic societies are no exception. Furthermore, Hispanic women writers have written articles, screenplays, and novels using cuisine as their driving force. A great example is Laura Esquivel’s novel, Like Water For Chocolate. First of all, the title of the novel makes reference to food, but it also has a deeper meaning. Images of heat and fire permeate the novel as expressions of intense emotion. Heat is necessary during the preparation of many foods. In the science of cooking, heat is a force to be used precisely; the novel's title phrase "like water for chocolate," refers to the fact that water must be brought to the threshold of boiling and lowered three times before cacao powder can be added to make hot chocolate. However, the many forms of heat involved in the tale cannot be so controlled. Heat is used as a symbol for desire and physical love throughout the narrative. Some example can be found in Gertrudis' rush to the ranch showers then escape from the entire ranch itself, in Pedro's lust for Tita, and the death of Pedro after he and Tita passion is finally realized. This heat is used as a source of power and one of destruction. The epitome of this detail in the novel, where death and desire are paired together, occurs when the love between Tita and Pedro is actualized. Secondly, the recurrence of recipes of Hispanic delicacies throughout Esquivel’s book parallels their importance in Mexican culture. Anne Goldman asserts that “the very domestic and commonplace quality of cooking makes it an attractive metonym for culture”...
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