Nancy F. Valdivia-Ochoa
"Like Water For Chocolate"
The first novel of Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel published in 1989 by 7th Dimension Entertainment Co., Inc. and later translated in 1992 by Carol and Thomas Christensen. This novel depicts a love story of forbidden true love that never died. The story takes place along the Mexico/U.S. Border during the height of the Mexican Revolution at the De La Garza ranch where the story of Tita de la Garza and her true love Pedro Muzquiz unfolds. Tita was the youngest of three daughters to Mama Elena. As part of the De La Garza tradition Tita was never to marry as her destiny was to take care of her mother until the day that she died. Many saw this tradition as ridiculous and absurd but to Mama Elena no one was going to abandon the tradition especially not one of her daughters. Times were different during these times and there was not much freedom given to young ladies that came from a descent family. Mama Elena was respected by all as an authority figure at the ranch but as a mother was feared because of her cruel and controlling demeanor. Mama Elena a strong, firm woman that would show little emotion towards her daughters.
The characters in the novel are Tita, the youngest daughter prohibited of loving a man since she will never marry as her life purpose is to care for her mother. Pedro Muzquiz, Tita's forbidden lover. Elena de la Garza, Tita's controlling mother who prohibits the marriage between Tita and Pedro. Rosaura, Tita's older sister which marries Pedro by suggestion of Mama Elena. Gertudis, The oldest sister which is later revealed in the novel of being the love child of Mama Elena's true love which was also forbidden being a mulato there was no way that their love would have been accepted during those times. Nacha, the family cook that taught Tita everything she knew in the kitchen. Nacha cared for Tita since she was a baby and was more of a mother figure than her mother ever was. She taught her the importance of doing her cooking with love and how true love never dies. Later in the novel it is revealed that Nacha is Dr. Brown's grandmother. Chencha, the ranch maid that played an important role in the recuperating process of Tita in her time of need. Dr. John Brown, the family doctor who throughout the novel professes his love for Tita but knows that while Mama Elena is alive there will be no chance in asking for Tita's hand in marriage. Roberto, Tita's nephew who died while living in San Antonio, Texas. Tita blamed her mother for the death of the child. Tita who miraculously was able to nurse and care for the child was distraught over the awful news that she went temporarily insane and vowed not to ever speak again. Esperanza, Tita's niece which is to follow in the tradition of caring for her mother till the day she dies. Tita vows to be the last in the De La Garza family to uphold that tradition. Alex Brown, Dr. John Brown's son which ends up marrying Esperanza at the end of the novel.
This novel is narrated by the daughter of Esperanza, Pedro and Rosaura's daughter which was inherited the cook book that Tita, her great aunt had written full of all the families recipes and depicts the story in twelve monthly chapters. In every chapter there is a recipe that ties in with the meals prepared and the story behind it. Christmas Rolls: While chopping onions, place a piece of onion on your head to avoid from crying is a kitchen secret that I had never heard. The novel starts off with the preparations and an interesting tip that I have yet to try. Tita was literally born on the kitchen table where she spent most of her days. Tita's father passed away two days after she was born, leaving her mother to care for all the duties of the ranch which left no time to care for her youngest daughter. This duty was left to Nacha, the family cook. Tita was extremely close to Nacha and saw her more as a mother figure than her mother since Nacha...
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