What or who influences inspires the author of Like Water for Chocolate?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Laura Esquivel, the inspiration behind Como Agua Para Chocolate /Like Water for Chocolate is her own experiences growing up in Mexico, where she and her grandmother lived close enough to create a very strong bond. In typical Latin tradition, women are mostly bonded in the kitchen. The sharing and preparation of family recipes is more than just a demonstration of love for food and cooking, but a way to solidify the bonds among female family members. 

Esquivel mentions that her own experiences in the kitchen remind her of her grandmother,to a great extent and that the smells and activities of the kitchen bring them closer together in spirit.

"When I cook certain dishes, I smell my grandmother's kitchen, my grandmother's smells. I thought: what a wonderful way to tell a story."

One must remember that Like Water for Chocolate uses the chemistry of food and cooking in order to infuse magical realism. Tita, the main character, is born on top of her home's kitchen table, sealing her fate as a person completely attached to food forever. Food not only nourishes the body, but the mind and spirit as well. In Esquivel's novel, the magical realism comes when the food affects in strange ways those who consume it.

Lest we forget that Esquivel also deals with the daily diatribes of the lives of Latin girls, one of them being the pressure to marry and have children. Since thecharacter of Tita is deprived of that very thing, her existence, and even a part of her soul, become infused in her cooking processes, letting all those pent up wants and frustration manifest themselves in the food that she prepares. She is, after all, "boiling" inside much like the title of the novel says.

Hence, in almost a similar fashion as the character of Faust, Tita lets her soul mix in with the world of food in an exchange between the spiritual and material worlds, in order to let out the passions that run inside of her. These are the topics that Esquivel treats in her novel and what, ultimately, rendered her motivation to write this great piece.