Two days ago I read a book by Mexican author Laura Esquivel. It was written in the nineties and it made authors debut.
Original title is Como aqua para chocolate and it serves as phrase to explain someone who is angry. English translation is Like Water for Chocolate.
I read it in translation to Croatian Kao voda za čokoladu. The cover illustration was made by Igor Kordej. It is a picture of a woman looking trough a kitchen window at a sight of a naked woman running from a man riding a horse. This is a scene from the book!
This is a novel about love and food. The best way I can describe it is by calling it phantasmagoric and above all spicy!
Main protagonist of the story is a young woman named Tita (short for Josefita de la Garza) who is passionate about her cooking. Story follows her life from birth into her growth as a woman. There are some historical elements hidden among magical realism anecdotes trough the story. As a youngest daughter she gets stuck with upholding a family tradition to never marry but care for her mother all her life. Her first love is called Pedro. Pedro marries Tita’s oldest sister Rosaura just to be closer to Tita.
Tita battles her dreams and desires with duties and traditions. Whole book is made out of twelve chapters. Each chapter is named by a month and they form a 12 month cycle for a whole year. Before each chapter there is a recipe for a dish. Before one chapter there is even a recipe for homemade matches! Each recipe brings out the theme of the chapter. Some chapters are quite magical. Tita has the ability to make magical things happen with her cooking for good and bad.
Titas life is filled with drama and oppression and she uses her considerable cooking skills to express her love and pain. With the recipes comes the explanations for preparations of food. Most of them are done the hard way, like peeling the skins of walnuts for hours just to make sure the dish ends up sweet enough!
I was moved and touched by how the author presented the drama and hardships that are part of life. There is cruelty and violence in the book but aside the first mentions the characters don’t dwell on it much. There are things that need to be done, chores to finish. Life gives you immediate things that need to be done.
It speaks for the undeniable truth of life: IT GOES ON!
I couldn’t help but notice how much flavor was in the recipes that were presented in the book. Most of them had pepper and onions for ingredients!
There is a movie version as well and I plan to see it!