Like water for chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate, a Mexican romantic epic authored by Laura Esquivel which had a film adaptation focuses on a young woman by the name of Tita De La Garza who learns that her cooking has supernatural upshots.  The smitten Tita is cruelly upset, and her misery has great impact that it contaminates the food she prepares – all who consumes it get a taste of her misfortune at the same magnitude.  The movie, directed by Alfonso Arau, the author’s husband at that time, portrays the exploits of love and food preparation with similar lustrous, sensual luster.  Certainly, regardless of the irregular detour into a magical realistic character, the movie usually retains the sheen of Hollywood romance.  Such blend of conventional melodrama and unusual magic appeared to be exceptionally admired by moviegoers, those in the United States quite precisely, where the movie turned out to be one of the top grossing foreign language movie at that time.

            The unique feature of magical realism is that the imaginary essentials are not mystical; they are sharpened, larger – than – life, or strange natural events.  They are magical simply because there is no justification for their existence.  It is in this practice that the author composed the novel, into which a film adaptation was made in the year 1992.

            In accordance to an ancient custom, Tita, being the youngest, is not allowed to get married.  She is tied to a responsibility of taking care of her mother as the latter ages.  Tita was brought up in the kitchen, taught how to prepare food and assume domestic responsibilities.  She fell in love with Pedro.  The moment the love of her life, proposed to marry her, her mother refused.  Pedro then decided to marry Tita’s sister Rosaura, believing that it is the only way to remain close to his lady love.

            It is a tale combined with recipes, connected in plain, unsophisticated language.  However, the moment the ingredients are blended and put to boil, fine and strange tastes surfaces.  Entwined right through the story are recipes, which, similar to a Greek choir, offer a constant symbolic remark on the characters as well as their way of life.

In a manner that is epic in scope but deeply focuses on the personal note, the movie, based on Laura Esquivel’s novel of the same title, Like Water for Chocolate narrates the plight of Tita De La Garza, the youngest inn the brood of three in a family residing in Mexico at the turn of the 20th century.  Throughout the story, the audience witnesses the protagonist’s effort to chase true love as well as assert her liberty.

            The story unfolds with a touch of insight from the kitchen which is one of its main settings.  Tita’s birth denotes the initial whimsical image of Like Water for Chocolate, setting off the audience into the story’s magical realism and representing the passion and uncertainty that describe the episodes in the story.  The picture of the protagonist’s gushing to the world in flood of tear drops foreshadows the misery and yearning that she will have to endure all her life.

            She fixates on the wedding cake and gown, which are quite dreadful symbols of her hopeless love.  The center of Tita’s vision on the color of the cake and gown remarks on the innocence of her sentiments, as opposed to the loveless, thus, tainted character of the hindering marriage of her sister and the love of her life.  Moreover, the color brings to mind standards of f femaleness as well as of womanhood, standards to which she can never adhere to given that she is not allowed to love and get married all her life.  The color also signifies chastity which is something she is by no means must break away from.

            Her tears led to constant vomiting and a painful feeling of loss among the guests.  Still, greater than a simple reverberation of her agony, these sequences correspond to a furious and intensified manifestation of emotion, at the same time as the cake saddles real agony.  Her feelings have been transformed.  For her, caught in the domestic realm and deprived of not just control but also the prerogative to rage at her destiny, food functions to claim the revenge that she pursues.  Tita intuitively translates the emotional rage she has endured into a portrayal of social rage.

            Tita’s altercation with her mother signifies the very first moment when she was able to stand up for her principles, despite the fact that she does so from a stance of helplessness in a time of great suffering.  The brutal assault from her mother ultimately robs in Tita;s spirit of its nourishment that which is left, allowing her mother keep Tita in her power.  “Tita’s consequent retraction into mental unconsciousness and corporal detachment imply that her solitary way out of this shattered world she came to know is folly.  Lying down unclothed, her body is no more a source of happiness or nurture, other than just a shell stocked with hurt and sorrow.

            The story may be refined into the tales of two women, Tita De La Garza, the protagonist, and the daunting Mama Elena, her mother.  The course of their battle against each other is the center wherein the whole story evolves.  Tita struggles for love, liberty, and independence, while her mother, as the antagonist, serves as the major challenge in the realization of her life’s purpose.  Theirs is a relationship that is filled with complexities from the beginning from the moment Tita is born prematurely following her father’s untimely demise.  Her mother is the reverse of a fosterer, never building a relationship with her daughter.  She develops a bond with food that afforded her the ability to foster and provided an outlet to her sentiments.

            Just like other pairings, Tita and her mother generally reveal an essential trait that outlines both their personal battles and tension with one another.  The disclosure that her mother had her own share of lost love is a crucial thematic balance to the protagonist’s denial of the right to love.  The response of both women to their dilemma made it easier to define their distinct personalities.  While Mama Elena allows the denial of the right to love transform her into an evil and dictatorial mother, Tita at the same time as abiding by her mother’s rule on the surface, take on a constant battle for love, something she ultimately triumphs over because of the strength of her character.

            Besides dishing up as an essential managing principle, food is usually an undeviating source of physical as well as emotional anxiety, as it exists to be an instrument through which feelings can possibly be communicated.  The protagonist cooks most of the recipes in the story, and she utilizes the food to articulate her sentiments since her humble social status provides her no other chance to do so.  Such events imply an immediate co modification and irrepressible sentiments.  Food is a powerful influence in the world of the story, and it allows the protagonist to affirm her individuality.

            Representations of heat and flame fill the story as statements of profound feelings.

Since heat is the stimulus that allows the food to go through chemical change, generous amounts of it can be found at several instances wherein food is cooked.  As far as the science of cooking is concerned, heat is a pressure to be utilized exactly, the title, Like Water for Chocolate, points out to the reality that water should be delivered to the point of boiling many times before it can be utilized in the preparation of hot chocolate.  Nonetheless, the fervor of emotions is impossible to be likewise regulated.  Heat signifies yearning as well as of physical affection in the course of the story.  The internal flame of the person corresponds to an essential theme in the story, and a great deal of the protagonist’s efforts focuses on nourishing such flame.  Such utilizations of flame mark the duality of its representation, as a fount of strength as well as a force of devastation.   The union of demise and yearning that took place the moment the love that is shared by Pedro and Tita is set free illustrates such duality of the representation of flame in the story.

            In the story, the religious – mythical themes of magic realism is extended to the everyday world of domestic sphere of a female – dominated home.  Although this is not the average tale of conquest, heroic characters, and ethical dilemmas, which are normally connected to epic narratives, Like Water for Chocolate dignifies the tale of women and of Tita quite precisely, to certain magnitudes.  Such approach influences the audience to investigate the feminist features of the story, which are apparent in the protagonist’s battle to obtain liberty and refine her individuality as well as in the fact that such battle was rendered in the first place.  As seen in the cast of characters focused on the female of the species, the story conceives a place where men are rarely physically existent, although the tradition of discrimination as well as the limitation of females to the domestic realm remains.  It does not offer its audience the concept of an unrealistic sorority, but on the contrary, an understanding of the manner in which the female of species are confined by norms of societal conduct maintained by not by men, but of women like them too.

            The story seems to imply that in life, one is presented by countless restrictions.  Such restrictions know no culture, nation, nor bounds.  Tita’s struggle may be confined to the borders of Mexico, but hers is a battle other people endure at one point or the other.  The traditions she has came to know, one of being the youngest, she is destined to remain single, may be a Mexican tradition, but it also encompasses the universal struggle to conform to the unjust norms dictated by society.

            Hers is a story of how hard it is to live in a world where one’s quest for happiness has never been so hard.  It is a tale of endurance, faith, and real love.  It is a test of character as much as it is a struggle to defy standards that does not prove to be fair.

            Tita’s story challenges its audience to see life behind the blinding injustices that comes with it.  It inspires them to hold on to that love, which is something that remains true against all the lies that they all have to live with.

Works Cited

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. New York: Double – day Publishing, 1994.

Kranz, Nickie. “A Pedagogical Approach to Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.”

2007. 24 June 24, 2008. <> .

“Like Water For Chocolate.” N.d. Chicago Sun Times. 24 June 2008.


Pilcher, Jeffrey. The Human Tradition in Mexico. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2003.

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