Primary sources are the priceless eyes and ears that our future descendants will have when they turn to consider our ways, our habits, and our deeds. Such events as the Cuban missile crisis, the Watergate scandal, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still in the public consciousness of our own time. When the twenty-second century rolls around, however, all that historians will have will be recorded conversations, pictures, photographs, memoranda, and other personal correspondence. When one considers conditions of the nineteenth century or before, one has even fewer primary sources on which to lean. Narrative accounts are often the only source of information for the historian, and so a crucial skill can be the interpretation, and deciphering, of the biases of the original writer.
Laura Esquivel was born on 30th September, 1950 in Mexico City. She forms part of the generation of writers in Latin American fiction whose careers booms in the wake of prior successes of the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other writers of the ostensible Boom in the 1960s. She is considered to be a part of larger trend: the surfacing of female authors on Latin America. Her work is oft-associated with magical practicality, and her first and most triumphant novel, Like Water for Chocolate, is a prime case of that genre. Like Water for Chocolate is an often gripping, and a surprising tale of the unique association between the magic of love and the sensuality of cooking. Actual cooking recipes abound in the work of fiction as epigraphs to introduce chapters.
In the second chapter, Tita is order by her mother to cook the menu for Rosaura and Pedro's wedding party. The main saucer, chosen by Mama Elena, is significantly enough 'capons' - that is, castrated chickens. Pedro could have 'kidnapped' Tita and abandoned her, as his own father suggested him, but lacking the guts he chose Mama Elena's proposal of wedding the elder daughter named Rosaura. In conversational Spanish this lack of guts is referred to as lacking 'balls', symbolized in the castrated chickens cooked particularly for Pedro.
The recipe of the third Chapter is quail in rose petals, which comes to define connection between Tita and Pedro. Esquivel's cookery magic matter-of-factness is even more radically realized in the cooking of this dish. At this point in the story, Tita has become a ranch chef, following the loss of her much-loved surrogate mother, Nacha. Tita is so shed down by this incident that Pedro is moved to give her a bunch of roses. The sister's bossy mother, Mama Elena, always attentive to the leeway of connection between previous lovers, orders Tita to obliterate the roses, though not before Tita's clutching them to her breast has turned then from pink to red.
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These rightly celebrated episodes propose an escape through the medium of food from all kinds of cruelty and oppression (it is no misfortune that the novel is set during the Mexican revolt, nor that the rose petal sauce is a pre-Hispanic recipe), and offer means of expression in a context of repressive social expectation. The fact is that Tita does not escape but remains and continues to cook, collect and write her recipes illustrates not rebellion or transformation but a subversive endurance.
In the fourth chapter, Tita cooks mole de guajolote con almendra y ajonjoli, a dish that, like the one for the last chapter, had chronological importance for Mexico. Young Tita cuts her first teeth amid the kitchen hustle and bustle required to prepare Christmas rolls, sheds her first feminine tears while preparing the marriage cake that should have been her own but will now be her sister's, and experiences near sexual consummation through her mouthwatering turkey mole with almonds and sesame seeds. Even her death is a 'culinary' experience.
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