Like water for chocolate

Like Water For Chocolate:

A novel in monthly installments with recipes, romances and home remedies, is a novel by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel. It was published, originally in Spanish as Como agua para chocolate, in 1989. The novel has been translated into thirty languages since then. It is a story about a young girl, Tita who struggles for her entire life to be with her true love. Protagonist of the novel and also the youngest daughter of a family lives on a Mexican ranch at the time of the Revolution.

The entire story in divided into twelve chapters marked as monthly installment and named after the months of the year. Each chapter begins with a recipe of some Mexican dish and the cooking and food imagery is interwoven quite intensely throughout the story. The main episodes on each chapter involve preparation or consummation of these dishes that Tita prepares to express her feelings. Tita is 15 years old at the onset of the story. She and Pedro are madly in love with each other. Pedro Muzquiz comes to the ranch to ask Titas hand in marriage. She domineering mother, Mama Elena, bluntly refuses to the proposal stating the tradition in De La Garza family which forbids the youngest daughter of the family to marry, as she is supposed to stay at home and look after her parents.

Pedro reluctantly marries Rosaura, Titas oldest sister, but makes it clear that he has married Rosaura solely to be near Tita. Pedro and his new wife live on the family ranch which makes it possible for Pedro to constantly remain in contact with Tita. Unable to marry her love, Tita is distraught with grief and transfers all her energy into her culinary skills, which Rosaura lacks. She excels the art of cooking and uses the power of food, unconsciously, to draw Pedro towards herself and away from Rosaura. Tita cooks a meal with rose petals given to her by Pedro, which has an intense effect on Titas second sister, Gertrudis, who flees into a lustful state, into arms of a revolutionary soldier. Rosaura bears a son, Robert, who is delivered by Tita. She treats her nephew as her own child, even produces breast milk to feed him as her sister is dry.As Pedro is drawn in the spell created by Titas cooking, Mama Elena moves Rosauras family to San AntonioTexas.

Already unhappy Tita is totally devastated by the separation. Soon, the family gets the tragic news of Robertos death. Tita has a nervous breakdown as soon as she hears in the news. Mama Elena decides to institutionalize her. Dr. John Brown, an American doctor, brings Tita to his own house and treats her. He gently treats her broken spirit and her physical ailments. Tita decides that she will never return to her mother. Her decision does not last very long as she had to return to the ranch almost immediately as Mama Elena gets injured in a raid by rebel soldier. All her attempts to care for her mother are thwarted by Mama Elena. She even refuses Titas cooking as she feels that Tita is trying to poison her.

Eventually, Mama Elena dies from an overdose of strong emetic which she takes for fear of poisoning. With Mama Elenas death, Tita is free from the obligation of looking after her mother. Meanwhile, she accepts when Dr. John Brown proposes to marry her. Pedro and Rosaura return to the ranch with their daughter Esperanza. After seeing Pedro, Titas love for him rekindles. When John asks Pedro to bless the marriage, the same night Pedro makes passionate love to Tita and takes her virginity. After that night, Tita feels with certainty that she is pregnant. She thinks that she has to tell John of her affair with Pedro and end the engagement. Mama Elena returns to the ranch as a spirit and curses Tita and her unborn child. Titas sister Gertrudis returns to the ranch. She is now a general in the revolutionary army. Tita is very happy to see her sister back at the ranch. Mama Elenas spirit returns violently and asks Tita to leave the ranch. Instead of leaving the ranch, Tita finally decides to stand up to her mother and declares her autonomy. After such a forceful declaration, the ghost shrinks into a tiny light. As soon as the ghost is expelled, Tita feels relieved of the pregnancy symptoms. The fiery light of Mama Elena ghost falls on Pedro, setting him on fire instantly. Tita rescues him, cares for him and helps him in recovering. Even after Tita confesses of her relationship with Pedro, he still wants to marry her but leaves the final decision to her.

Many years pass. Rosaura dies and frees her daughter Esperanza from the same tradition as Tita which is forbidding them to marry. After Rosauras death Esperanza and Alex, Johns son, get married. With everything taken care of, Tita and Pedro are finally free to be with each other. On their first night, both of them make intense love and are carried into a tunnel to take them to the afterlife. The intensity of her love kills Pedro. Desperately wanting to be with Pedro, Tita eats all the candles in the room in an attempt to ignite her inner fire. She succeeds in reentering the tunnel where she meets Pedro in the world of spirits.

Their union this time sets the entire ranch on life. The only thing to remain intact was Titas recipe book. There is a heavy dose of magical realism throughout the story. She translates her feelings into her cooking. She prepares these meals to remain in contact with Pedro. On Pedros wedding with Rosaura, Tita prepares a cake that makes the guest vomit. In the end, Titas passion opens a portal to the world of spirits which kills Pedro. Tita remembers all her happy thoughts to reopen the portal and follow Pedros spirit. The energy thus created is so intense that the whole ranch is consumed within that fire. Tita is finally successful in escaping from her destiny and now she is free to be with Pedro forever. In 1993, the book was made into a film. Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures awarded the film 11 awards and the film also became highest grossing foreign film in U.S. at that time.

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