Food is the most necessary commodity for the survival of a human being. It is prepared in different ways all over the world. Over the years, the responsibility of preparation of food has, been left to the women in the home. This has given them the right to know what is to be prepared, how to prepare it and what is to be added to the mixture. In the book ‘Like Water For Chocolate’, the act of cooking and the food itself has been used to depict the only place where the women have the freedom to express themselves freely. The only place they can explicitly display their emotions and prepare the food according to what they are feeling. Food preparation and its contents are dictated by the mood and emotion the woman who prepares it is feeling.

In the book by Laura Esquivel, ‘Like Water for Chocolate’, Tita is the young girl given the responsibility of preparing the meals for the family. She is a young girl living with her family in Mexico at a time when family customs forbade the youngest daughters in a household to get married. Instead, they had to stay at home and take care of their families. This makes Tita have no choice but remain home and help her mother in the household chores among which cooking was included. Her quest for love however was ever burning inside her and it causes her to have hope and never gives up on her love for Pedro. Through her cooking, Tita had the power to influence her family in many different ways since all her temperaments, feelings and emotions were expressed through her cooking (Esquivel 98).   

According to the Mexican tradition at the time, the person responsible for the cooking among other responsibility of taking care of the home was the woman. The women and girls were supposed to dominate the household while the men performed duties that required physical input in the fields. From the book, Nacha is the female servant in charge of the house, and she had the responsibility of taking care of the children, the house and cooking. Tita, by virtue of being the youngest daughter, had to stay at home too since she could not get married. Therefore, in the context of the Mexican society and tradition at the point when the book was written, the female gender was dominant of the home and the activities involved in it. This therefore suggests that the female gender was considered weak and the lower in class the female was, the more she was considered a good housekeeper (Esquivel 45).

The responsibility charged to the female gender empowers them to be in charge of a specific part of the home. This means that if they were to be removed from the position or if they were not there, that part of the home would not run smoothly. Thus, it gave them a responsibility in the home. When Nacha died, Tita is bequeathed with the burden of the entire house chores and most importantly, the cooking duties. She takes charge of it and uses it to express her feelings and emotions. She utilized her responsibility to channel her feelings to her one true love and all the time she hoped to please her love Pedro through her cooking. Though she is oppressed by her mother, who is bitter because of a lost love, she has the power to express her emotions through the sole responsibility she has in the home. Therefore, her oppressive responsibility is converted to an empowering one.

The home, and more specifically the kitchen, is a place where the women dominate. The cooking therefore becomes a way of empowering them. The good condition of a household makes the woman receive praise and when she prepares a meal for the family, she is appreciated and her importance acknowledged. This is empowering to the women. Tita grows stronger as she cooks since she is able to express her true feelings and is able to disobey the mistreatment of her mother. She becomes more adept at the expression of her true most feelings. Through her cooking, she learns to voice her feelings and stand up to her mistreating mother. Tradition oppresses the intense love that is spoken of throughout the book, however, Tita, is able to gradually overcome the hold of tradition put in place by her mother to eventually achieve her love and embrace it.






















Works Cited:

Esquivel, Laura. Like water for chocolate: a novel in monthly installments, with recipes, romances, and home remedies. Prescott, AZ: Anchor Books, 1994. Print.

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