The expression “like water for chocolate” comes from the idea of boiling water to make hot chocolate. You have to be careful not to let it boil too rapidly, or it will overflow and spoil the recipe. The lesson I took from this story is that emotions are the same in that you must keep them under control; too much passion will boil over and burn anything that gets in the way.
Title – Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate)
Author – Laura Esquivel
Page count – 241
Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)
This book is set during the Mexican Revolution, and it is a tale of love and betrayal, romantic relationships and familial ones (particularly between the women in the house). Each chapter is set up for a different month of the year and begins with a recipe. For a succinct description, I like the one on the back cover: “A tall-tale, fairy-tale, soap-opera romance, Mexican cookbook and home-remedy handbook all rolled into one.”
There’s always a little something lost when a story is translated from its original language (in this case Mexican Spanish), but it was still enjoyable. There is a heavy use of metaphor and hyperbole, but I can’t tell if their use seems “off” because of the translation or simply because the story is written in a style I’ve never encountered before. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the drama and clever weaving of the recipes into the story. Here is the start to Chapter 7 (July, ox tail soup):
2 ox tails
2 cloves garlic
¼ kilo string beans
4 chiles moritas
The cut-up ox tails are placed in a pan to cook with a chunk of onion, a clove of garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. It is advisable to add a little more water than you normally would, since you are making a soup. A good soup that’s worth something has to be soupy without getting watery.
Soups can cure any illness, whether physical or mental – at least, that was Chencha’s firm belief, and Tita’s too, although she hadn’t given sufficient credit to it for some time. But now it would have to be accepted as the truth