First published in 1989, Laura Esquivel’s first novel, Como agua para chocolate: novela de entregas mensuales con recetas, amores, y remedios caseros, became a bestseller in the author’s native Mexico. It has been translated into numerous languages, and the English version, Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies, enjoyed similar success in the United States. The film version, scripted by the author and directed by her husband, Alfonso Arau, has become one of the most popular foreign films of the past few decades. In a New York Times interview, Laura Esquivel told Marialisa Calta that her ideas for the novel came out of her own experiences in the kitchen: “When I cook certain dishes, I smell my grandmother’s kitchen, my grandmother’s smells. I thought: what a wonderful way to tell a story.” The story Esquivel tells is that of Tita De la Garza, a young Mexican woman whose world becomes her family’s kitchen after her mother forbids her to marry the man she loves. Esquivel chronicles Tita’s life from her teenage to middle-age years, as she submits to and eventually rebels against her mother’s domination. Readers have praised the novel’s imaginative mix of recipes, home remedies, and love story set in Mexico in the early part of the century. Employing the technique of magic realism, Esquivel has created a bittersweet tale of love and loss and a compelling exploration of a woman’s search for identity and fulfillment.

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