It was 2007: I had graduated from college and I had Mexico in my heart. In the months before leaving for my “Mexico lindo”, I decided to brush up on my Spanish with a few conversation lessons with Marisol, a woman from Madrid living in my neighborhood, in Milan. Aside from conversing, she also advised me to read a book: “Como agua para chocolate” (Like water for chocolate) by Laura Esquivel, a Mexican writer. The title refers to a phrase used in Spanish meaning “extreme feelings”. In particular, it refers to the boiling point, in terms of anger, passion and sexuality.
This book was included in the list edited by El Mundo of the top 100 novels written in Spanish in the XX century.
A deep and intense book, focused on Tita’s life, her love, family and the strong relationship that it all has with cooking. In the novel you perceive a particular style that uses a magical realism, aiming at bringing together the supernatural with the reality of society of that time.
Each chapter begins with a recipe from Mexico’s culinary tradition. As a matter of fact, the novel uses Mexican gastronomy as a common ground and metaphor of the characters’ feelings. As a consequence, onions become a reason to shed tears while rose petals newly awaken incontrollable passions.
Tita, the main character of the story, is an excellent cook with a strong connection with food. Whoever tastes the dishes she prepares, can feel all the emotions that Tita felt during their preparation: from an indescribable sadness to a burning desire.
If you want to discover them, here are the 12 recipes included in the book:
1. Tortas de Navidad
2. Pastel Chabela (de Boda)
3. Codornices en Pétalos de Rosa
4. Mole de Guajolote con Almendra y Ajonjolí
5. Chorizo Norteño
6. Masa para hacer fósforos
7. Caldo de colita de res
9. Chocolate y Rosca de Reyes
10. Torrejas de Natas
11. Frijoles gordos con chiles a la Tezcucana
12. Chiles en Nogada
For those of you who don’t have the time or don’t feel like reading the book, you can also watch the movie filmed in 1992.
Read while listening to: