Thursday, December 24, 2009

63. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Tita is a kitchen prodigy from the moment she is born. Her thwarted love story is told in monthly installments of recipes. I give Esquivel credit for an interesting format, and the interweaving of food and fiction is well done. The plot is simple, though strange. Tita's formidable Mama Elena perpetuates a family tradition where the youngest daughter, that is, Tita, must never marry and must care for her mother until her mother's death. As a result of this baffling tradition, Tita's lover marries her older sister, just to be near her. Mishaps ensue.

Esquivel is clearly a member of the Latin American magical realism trend. Ghosts are sighted and encounters with the supernatural occur. The simplicity of the story, however, causes it to lack the significance of, say, House of the Spirits, and while the phenomena fits, it just contributes to an overall strange feeling. Read it for the food, the plot is mundane at best, and at worst, absurd in such a way that it feels flawed.

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