The Mexican screenwriter and novelist Laura Esquivel (ehs-kee-VEHL), who became widely known for her first published novel, Like Water for Chocolate, was raised in a middle-class family in Mexico City. She received a teaching degree from the Escuela Normal de Maestros and spent eight years teaching before embarking on a career as a writer and director of children’s theater and as a screenwriter. In 1985 she and her husband, the film director, producer, and actor Alfonso Arau, collaborated on a film project, Chido One, for which she wrote the screenplay. For this work Esquivel won a nomination from the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures for the prestigious Ariel Award.
The novel Like Water for Chocolate was widely read both in Mexico and in the United States. Once again, collaborating with her husband, the author adapted the work for the screen several years later, a venture that was financially and critically successful. In fact, the internationally acclaimed film was one of the highest grossing foreign films in the United States. Among the ten Ariel awards the film received, one was for Esquivel’s screenplay.
Set in Mexico during the first half of the twentieth century, Like Water for Chocolate chronicles the life of the De la Garza family, which is headed by the domineering matriarch Mamá Elena. A cruel family tradition ordains that Tita, the youngest of three daughters, is forced to care for her mother to the end of her days and thus never marry. Relegated to the kitchen, Tita learns the secrets both of food and of love from the devoted family cook, Nacha, in a relationship that evokes the author’s childhood memories of her grandmother’s kitchen. Indeed, as this tale unfolds, the scenery changes from that of northern Mexico to that of San Antonio, which is reminiscent of Esquivel’s own childhood, when she often traveled with her family to visit relatives...
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