Like Water for Chocolate
Laura Esquivel
1989

Como Agua Para Chocolate, as it is titled in the original Spanish, is by no means the best of Latin American magical realism, nor was it the first to receive international acclaim and attention. Others on this list, most notably Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Hundred Years of Solitude and Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits are have received far more critical praise, and even these find earlier inspiration in the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and Alejo Carpentier. Like Water for Chocolate, though, did two things: one, it attracted a mass audience in a way that even the best-known of its predecessors did not; and 2) it played a major role in the english-speaking world’s “rediscovery” of Mexico in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Passionate and mouth-watering, Like Water for Chocolate is the story of a young Mexican woman who is unable to pursue a life with her lover and instead must devote herself to the care of her aging mother. Her unfulfilled emotions, and her strong eroticism in particular, are poured into her cooking, and the book is structured as 12 chapters following the months of the year, each based around a particular recipe.

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