When Mama Elena and Chencha finally arrived home that night with the Lobos, they all admired the professional job Tita had done. Wrapped up like a taco, the baby was sleeping peacefully. – p 71

My first experience with this book was in junior Spanish class during high school. My teacher showed us the parts of the movie version that she was allowed to, in hopes that the dramatic storyline would interest us in learning the language. The story stuck in my mind, possibly from the images of my teacher frantically running to the TV to fast forward the tape whenever someone started undressing or acting sensual.

This story tells us of Tita, the youngest daughter of a widowed ranch owner. As the youngest, Tita is expected to forever live at home and take care of her mother. Unfortunately, Tita makes the mistake of falling in love with a local boy named Pedro. When their pleas to get married are denied by Mama Elena, Pedro marries Tita’s sister Rosaura in an attempt to have a life close to Tita. Through her whole life, Tita lives in constant longing for Pedro. She also lives in the kitchen, a master cook of the old family recipes. She seems to understand food, and because of her deep feelings for life and deep understanding of how food works, her food will often affect those who eat it.

If you ever would like to read a wonderful example of magical realism, this is a good book to pick up. Be warned that there are sexual themes – as Pedro and Tita’s lives revolve around each other. Many events that happen in the story are expressed through illustration, allusion, and illusion. Magic is an everyday part of Tita’s life.

I enjoyed this book, and knowing what finally happened at the end of the story (we never finished the movie in class), but personally, there was just a little too much magic in the story for me. If there is this much fantasy, I would prefer the book to be openly fantasy. And this is not a criticism of the book at all – just a personal preference. The story is very engaging, which should be obvious since I remembered it from high school and still was interested in finding out what happened. The characters are interesting, and none of them seem to be stereotypical – from the sister that rides off naked and in lustful flames to the character who farts themselves to death. (Really!)

“Like Water for Chocolate” was published in 1989 by Laura Esquivel.