Como Agua para Chocolate

Like Water for ChocolateDrama, Romance

Learners’ Notes

  • Based on a novel making it possible for one to read the story beforehand and prepare better
  • Plenty of high-frequency natural Spanish words and expressions to be picked
  • Good for those looking to develop an ear for Mexican Spanish
  • Interesting insight into the Mexican traditions, values, and way of life
  • Lot of cooking-related Spanish to be learnt
  • Can be followed by even beginner-level learners at least to some extent with subtitles
  • Not suitable for minors due to extensive sexual content
brief synopsis

Based on the best-selling novel by Laura Esquival, this internationally popular romantic fable from Mexico centers on a young woman who discovers that her cooking has magical effects. The tale’s heroine, Tita, is the youngest of three daughters in a traditional Mexican family. Bound by tradition to remain unmarried while caring for her aging mother, Tita nevertheless falls in love with a handsome young man named Pedro. Pedro returns her affection, but he cannot overcome her family’s disapproval, and he instead marries Tita’s elder sister. The lovestruck young woman is brutally disappointed, and her sadness has such force that it infects her cooking: all who eat it her feel her heartbreak with the same intensity. This newly discovered power continues to manifest itself after the wedding, as Tita and Pedro, overcome by their denied love, embark on a secret affair. Director Alfonso Arau, Esquival’s husband at the time, presents the acts of love and cooking with the same glossy, sensual sheen. Indeed, despite occasional digressions into a magical realist tone, the film often takes on the gloss of Hollywood romance. This combination of traditional melodrama and exotic fairy tale proved extremely popular with audiences, particularly in the United States, where it became one of the highest grossing foreign language films at the time.

The movie is all about magical realism and might not appeal to everyone although it does offer an interesting glimpse of the Mexican lifestyle and cuisine. Food is as central to its theme as is romance and sensuality which may keep viewers hooked even if they are not otherwise into magical realism. Reading the novel before the viewing is recommended for Spanish learners in order to better absorb the language.