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Like Water for Chocolate (Spanish title: Como Agua Para Chocolate) is a 1989 Mexican novel by Laura Esquivel. It chronicles the story of Tita (full name: Josefita De La Garza), a fifteen year-old growing up during the Mexican Revolution with her mother, Mama Elena, her older sisters Gertrudis and Rosaura, the cook Nacha and maid Chencha on a ranch in Piedras Negras, a town near the Mexico – U.S. border. Tita has a love of the kitchen and a deep connection with food, a skill enhanced by the fact that she was practically raised from birth by the cook. Her love for cooking also comes from the fact that she was actually born in the kitchen. Pedro, a ranch hand, and Tita fall in Love At First Sight. He asks Mama Elena for Tita’s hand in marriage, but Mama Elena forbids it, citing the De la Garza family tradition which demands that the youngest daughter (in this case Tita) must remain unmarried and take care of her mother until her mother's death.

Like Water for Chocolate is broken into twelve chapters, monthly installments, each containing a Mexican recipe important to the story at hand. The novel uses Magic Realism to mix the ordinary with the supernatural.

The book was later adapted into a film, released in 1992, which became the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States at the time.

Tropes used in Like Water for Chocolate include:
  • Abusive Parent: Is it possible to have ANY sympathy for Mama Elena?
  • Break the Cutie: Tita. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, family burdens, broken heart, loss of loved ones and finally a total breakdown.
  • Butt Monkey: Rosaura.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Pedro.
  • Contemplating Your Hands: Tita does this for a short while after her mental breakdown.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tita, Gertrudis, & Rosaura's father. He died of a heart attack a day after Tita's birth after learning that Gertrudis wasn't his daughter.
  • Deus Exit Machina: when Pedro and Rosaura's first son Roberto is born, Tita is conveniently the only person around to help deliver him.
  • Death by Despair: Nacha. She was always upset because of the loss of the man she loved, but after tasting cake accidentally mixed with Tita's tears, she crosses the Despair Event Horizon and dies of a broken heart.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Tita was sad enough after her nephew Roberto and Pedro left the ranch with Rosaura at Mama Elena's request. However, it's receiving news that Roberto died of indigestion that pushes her over the edge and makes her snap.
  • Does Not Like Soft-Boiled Eggs: Mama Elena tries to have Tita eat these, which usually fails until she gives Tita a smack across the face to loosen her throat. Tita, in fact, will eat just about anything except soft-boiled eggs.
  • The Dutiful Son: A gender-flipped example. De La Garza family tradition is that the youngest daughter is forbidden from getting married, having to care for her mother until her death. Tita must act as this for Mama Elena. Rosaura also intends on having her daughter, Esperanza, uphold the tradition as well. Once Rosaura dies, however, Esperanza gets Happily Married to Dr. Brown's son Alex.
  • Evil Matriarch: Mama Elena.
  • Food Porn
  • Freud Was Right: Tita has a flashback of the time she and Pedro briefly fondled each other, where she is implied to have felt his "red-hot coal" while she's holding a sausage.
  • G-Rated Sex: Tita and Pedro initially have sex through the food Tita cooks, which is how she expresses herself. Specifically, Tita is, in a way, actually penetrating Pedro when eats her cooking. Pedro's raving compliments of her cooking is also gratuitous, at least until Mama Elena "asks" him to stop. Averted later on with Juan and Gertrudis, and others, who have sex for real.
    • The book also chronicles how Tita and Pedro move away from this trope and closer to the real thing, with occurrences like Pedro seeing Tita cooking in an erotic posture to the two of them briefly fondling each other.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Tita and Rosaura. Tita and Gertrudis, however, are on better terms.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: What Tita realizes Pedro becomes after he forces her to cheat on Dr. Brown.
  • I Have No Son: Mama Elena's mentality after Gertrudis runs away.
  • Jerkass: Pedro comes off as this for many readers. Sure, he makes both Rosaura and Tita's lives extremely complicated (and destroys their already shaky sisterly bonds) with the Settle for Sibling deal, but even after he does so, he bullies and pressures Tita when Nice Guy Dr. Brown shows interest in her? Come ON, Pedro.
  • Killed Off for Real: First Nacha, then much later Mama Elena, followed by Rosaura, and finally Tita and Pedro at the end.
  • Let's Wait a While: On the first night of Pedro's and Rosaura's loveless marriage Pedro delays an uncomfortable marriage obligation with an excuse. The deed is later done to produce Roberto.
  • Lethal Chef: Rosaura, in sharp contrast to Tita. When Rosaura tries to cook a family dinner to impress Pedro, nobody likes her food. It doesn't help that she wouldn't even take Tita's advice.
  • Love At First Sight: Tita and Pedro, as well as and with Juan and Gertrudis... kinda.
  • Not So Different: Tita and Nacha, and even Tita and Mama Elena.
  • Out with a Bang: Pedro, while making true love to Tita for the first time.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Mama Elena was in a forbidden affair once. Not that Elena actually cares for Tita's welfare.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: One scene in which Tita attempts to drown her sorrows with apricot liqueur over Pedro's marriage to Rosaura instead was not included in the film. Another scene in the book in which the chickens on the ranch go crazy for whatever reason and bore a hole in the earth was not included, either.
  • Rape as Drama: Poor Chencha.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Dr. Brown.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Very present, sometimes going hand-in-hand with the Magic Realism in the story. The various recipes in the story are usually some kind of symbol as well.
  • Settle for Sibling: Pedro marries Rosaura in order to be close to the Tita, the one he truly loves.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Tita and Pedro. Curse you tradition!
  • Supreme Chef: Nacha and Tita.
  • Title Drop
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: The last three pages of the novel can be summarized as Everyone runs away to have sex in the trees, except for Pedro and Tita, who have sex in a room set up by a ghost. Pedro has a heart attack and dies in the middle of it. Tita eats matches to die with him. The house turns into a volcano and everyone applauds. And it’s all good because now the ashes of their passion made the ranch fertile and the narrator has a cookbook.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: When Dr. Brown goes up in the ranch's dovecove and finds a naked Tita, who has crossed the Despair Event Horizon, she does this in a corner, while crying.
  • Unusual Euphemism: And I quote: "While she was receiving a kiss on the lips, Pedro took her hand in his and invited her to explore his body. Tita timidly touched the hard muscles on Pedro's chest, lower down, she felt a red-hot coal that throbbed through her clothes." When you think about it, this is actually somewhat justified because Tita probably isn't all that familiar with men's bodies, so it makes sense that she might use a comparable mundane object that might show up in cooking instead.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pedro tries to do this to Tita for being engaged to the doting, loving Dr. Brown. In return Tita angrily calls out against Pedro's ridiculous rationlization "me marrying your sister to be close to you meant nothing to you?!" Pedro does not seem to catch on until 20 years later.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: Every single person (save Tita) at Pedro and Rosaura's wedding, after eating the cake with her tears mixed in. Special mention goes to Rosaura, who is covered in vomit despite her attempts to evade it and has her wedding dress ruined.
    • Vomit Discretion Shot: Unlike the sea of vomit described in the book, no one is shown actually vomiting on-screen in the film.
  • You Monster!: Not a literal example, but close enough to count. After Tita receives news of the death of her nephew, Roberto, she tells Mama Elena "You did it, you killed Roberto!" In a way, she just might be right, because Mama Elena sent Roberto and his family off the ranch, away from Tita, at a time where the only thing Roberto would eat/drink was Tita's (magic) breast milk...
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