I'm an obsess-o reader-girl and spend a lot of time reading inspirational lean-stuff-from books, but my big reading love is magical realism. I read a LOT of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Joanne Harris, Francesca Lia Block and Louis de Bernieres, but this weekend I have re-discovered my most favourite book in this genre, Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
This book is utterly beautiful. It's a divine tale of unrequited love, the story of Tita De La Garza and the only man she will ever love, Pedro. Sigh. Sadly, Tita is the youngest daughter of four, which, according to Mexican tradition, means it's her duty to stay at home and look after her mother until she dies. This means that Tita will never marry or have children. Pedro is desperate to still be around Tita, and consequently marries her older sister Rosaura, just so he can be close to her. What follows is a poignant, but turbulent tale of love, lust and families...
Like Water For Chocolate is laced with magic, humour and sumptuous Mexican cookery. Seriously, words cannot express how much I love this book. The descriptions of the food and drink are so divinely delicious, that they make Nigella sound like a bad-mouthed, lorry driver. They simply ooze through the pages, you can almost taste them- and I also particularly enjoyed how the *preparation* of the food was included so cleverly in the plot too, it was almost poetic at times and beautifully done. Believe me, I was desperate for some Mexican food after reading this and you will be too!
I've read this book about 6 times, and each time I am always sorry to see this story end. It is frivolous, fanciful and feminine, it looks at the connection between our emotions, the food we eat and the people closest to us. The author doesn't hold back, the food is described almost as a living, mythical thing, and the process of making it is more like alchemy than cookery. Her principle is that in cooking a meal you have a venue through which your emotions are concentrated and expressed - Sadness, anger, jealousy, lust and of course, love, the ultimate goal. The recipes are mouthwatering, the characters are vivid and the atmosphere is intense and infectious.
Um...if you didn't quite get it, I ADORE this book. You can buy it from my new Store O' Sass - get me, I'm so swank.