I’ve been traveling with books again, this time to Mexico. Like Water for Chocolate is a romance, beautifully told in-between mouth-watering recipes. Food, life and love are intertwined in every possible way until they become impossible to separate.
I loved the way food is presented in the book, and for a while I even found myself plotting to cook some of the recipes. The protagonist of the book, Tita, is raised by the house cook because her mother’s milk dries up. The book plays around with the concept of motherhood, and the equivalence between nourishment for the body and nourishment for the heart. Lactation almost seems to depend on a man’s love, and emotions splash over to the food like strange potions, inducing sorrow, sickness, or love in the eaters.
I would say the genre is magical realism, and the novel often reminded me of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. It made me wonder why this genre is so typical of South-American literature at large. Even the telenovela sometimes veers in this direction: I remember watching this South-American soap once where the gist of the plot was that a virgin became pregnant. Maybe Catholicism is a predisposing factor.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy magical realism but for me it sometimes goes overboard. The shock effect wears off pretty soon, and the unexpected becomes the expected, if you know what I mean.
Personally I wasn’t touched by the book’s love story, since Pedro, who becomes infatuated with Tita as soon as they meet (but is obliged to marry Tita’s sister instead), seems like a weak and spiteful character. He’s not shown in the light that would justify Tita’s love for her, and that ruins the love story as far as I’m concerned. I kept waiting for Tita to drop him. But I hated Dr. Zhivago for the same reason so maybe my idea of romantic just differs from the rest of the world, who knows.
All in all, a very enjoyable read and I breezed through it. I’m not much of a romance reader in general, so maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would. But this was good, and if you’re into romances and magical realism, you’re going to absolutely adore this book.
This post is the fifth stop in my book tour around the world. Here is the link to this challenge in case you are interested to learn more. Maybe a bit late to take part this year, but who knows, they might be doing it again next year?