Como agua para chocolate (in Spanish) or, Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies, by Laura Esquivel, is a unique love story that takes the reader on a year-long journey in turn-of-century Mexico, punctuated by traditional recipes and home remedies.
Tita de la Garza is a young girl who lusts for Pedro. He feels the same way. Unfortunately, a family tradition forbids Tita from marriage. The youngest daughter, custom would have it, must stay unmarried so that she may care for her mother. At the mother's request, Pedro marries Tita's sister, Rosaura. This "substitution" is often submitted as having inspired the title; as though Pedro had traded chocolate for water.
The phrase, incidentally, is a common expression in some Spanish-speaking countries, and suggests great anger.
Through her cooking, Tita is able to show us the emotion she has for Pedro, and the changing relationships she has with her older sisters, Rosaura and Gertrudis. In this way, what might have been a story, or a recipe book, becomes a mixture of both.
The book is divided into twelve sections named after the months of the year. In the month of October, Tita writes about Cream Fritters.
1 cup of heavy cream
Take the eggs, crack them, and separate the whites. Stir the six yolks with the cup of cream. Beat until the mixture becomes light. Pour it into a pot that has been greased with lard. The mixture should be no more than an inch thick in the baking pan. Place it on the heat, over a very low flame, and allow to thicken.
Writes Laura, "Tita was preparing these fritters at the specific request of Gertrudis; they were her favorite dessert.
"It had been a long time since she had had them, and she wanted to make them before leaving the ranch, the next day.
"Gertrudis had only been home for a week, but that was much longer than she had intended.
"While she greased the pot where Tita would pour the beaten cream, she never stopped talking."
This story was turned into a movie in 1993, starring Lumi Cavazos, Yarelli Arizmendi, and the famous telenovela actress Regina Torné.
Cavazos received the "Best Actress" Award at the Tokyo Film Festival and Brazil's Festival de Gramado for her portrayal of Tita, while Arizmendi met her future husband on the set.