Recipes Make the Book
June 25, 2012
I have a favorite book, really several favorite books. But for some silly reason, the book that always ends up at the top of my list is a book by Laura Esquivel called Like Water for Chocolate. This book didn’t move mountains or change me in any way. However, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone. The book was published in 1995, but I have read it at least twice, and I’d read it again.
The story is about a girl who is the youngest of three daughters. In Mexico at the turn of the century, the youngest daughter is still expected to be the mother’s caretaker and never marry or have a life of her own. Her whole existence is expected to be centered on the care of the mother—totally devoted to her. Well, as life would happen, nothing ever stays the way it should be. The youngest daughter falls in love.
The story is told from the viewpoint of generations to come. It is the story that is passed from one family member to another, much as family stories are told. In the telling, there is misunderstanding, fantasy, and romance. But the thing that makes this book stand apart is the recipes. Now, I know that lots of authors put recipes in their books, but in this story, the recipes are an integral part of the story. The main character is so incredibly involved in cooking that her food is "felt" by all who partake. The ending of the story is almost ethereal in the way it is told.
The story reminded me of how we keep family legends alive by passing them from one person to another to another and so on. The stories are exaggerated and changed but stay relatively true.