When all else fails to inspire me, food will!

As my reading concentration is still decidedly lacy after recent current events, I thought I would try food as a lure, to lull me into a state of engaged calm, enabling me to resist checking the latest news for the umpteenth time. It worked. Setting off for Mexico as the next stop on my Around the World in 80 Books Reading Challenge, I immersed myself in the sumptuous delights of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water For Chocolate.

By the end of page 1, I realised I’d read the book before. It must be decades since I first encountered the vibrant flavours of Tita’s cooking, and felt the intense slowburn of longing, the result of her thwarted romance with Pedro. Tita and Pedro fall in love  and he visits her home to ask her mother’s permission to marry her. As the youngest daughter in the family, her mother is determined that Tita must follow tradition and refrain from marrying in order to look after her for the rest of her life.

Already distraught at her fate, Tita’s woes are exacerbated when Pedro becomes betrothed to Rosaura, Tita’s sister because

When you’re told there’s no way you can marry the woman you love and your only hope of being near her is to marry her sister, wouldn’t you do the same?

For Tita, the pain of this situation is unbearable, and all she can do is to channel her love and frustration into preparing the family meals.

Tita knew through her own flesh how fire transforms the elements, how a lump of corn flour is changed into a tortilla, how a soul that hasn’t been warmed by the fire of love is lifeless, like a useless ball of corn flour.

esquivel_laura

When decades later Tita and Pedro are reunited, their passion crackles off the page.

You must take care to light the matches one at a time. If a powerful emotion should ignite them all at once, they would produce a splendor so dazzling that it would illuminate far beyond what we can normally see; and then a brilliant tunnel would appear before our eyes, revealing the path we forgot the moment we were born, and summoning us to regain the divine origins we had lost. The soul ever longs to return to the place from which it came, leaving the body lifeless.

Like Water For Chocolate  was a sensuous feast of a novel seasoned with magic and pulsing with life. Esquivel writes with sparkling vivacity and I devoured the novel, savouring every page. After spending weeks floundering in a reading desert, this was just the tonic I needed.

 

*I am currently in a field with no internet but I’ll be plugged back into the blogosphere in a couple of weeks. See ya then!

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