Hidden Meaning in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate
Laura Esquivel’s novel, Like Water for Chocolate, is a contemporary novel based on romance, recipes and home remedies. Very little criticism has been done on the novel. Of the few essays that are written on this work, the majority of them consist of feminist critique. This novel would be most easily approached from a feminist view because of the intricate relationships between women. However, relationships between women are only one of the many elements touched upon in the novel. Like Water for Chocolate is a novel that uses recipes as a crypt for many important themes in the novel. Jaques Derrida defines crypt as something that, "disguise[s] the
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In the words and ingredients of the recipes themselves lie the formula to produce a particular dish. Whether it be dinner rolls, wedding cake or sausages, the dish’s sole being relies on the recipes. In a sense, the recipe is the first step in a chain reaction to triggering a memory. After the food is produced, it has a texture, smell, shape, taste and color unlike the others. These elements arouse the senses, which can trigger emotions. As mentioned above, with the creation of food a center is created. The center is the substructure which other elements are built. Esquivel associates certain dishes to love, lust, sickness, pregnancy, motherhood, and the supernatural. Whoever controls the food, appears also to control all those elements mentioned above, and in the novel this person is Tita. She is seen as the strong woman in the family. It is not a coincidence that Esquivel places the novel during the time of the Mexican Revolution. Historically, many women participated in this war and women had been participating since 1519, during the Spanish Conquest. This is interesting because Tita is very much a soldadera—a female soldier—herself, similar to Toci. Toci is the oldest of the Earth Mother Goddesses from the Valley of Mexico (Dobrian 63).
If a recipe is available, open for anyone to read and follow, why would it be described as a crypt? This is precisely where the secret lies. Because one follows the recipe doesn’t guarantee that