That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007 9:10 pm—Film

Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico 1992, Drama/Romance), Writer: Laura Esquivel; Director: Alfonso Arau

I dedicate this post to JP and CS. All those years ago, Like Water for Chocolate was the start of one of the most beautiful families I’ve had the joy of knowing. Thank you for the inspiration.

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Like Water for Chocolate has to be one of the best titles in the world. Here’s the explanation on the back of the DVD:

“In Mexico, hot chocolate is made of water, not milk. To prepare the drink, one brings the water to a boil and then adds the cocoa. When someone becomes extremely agitated, it is said that they are ‘like water for chocolate.’ This expression is also used to describe a state of sexual arousal.”

The film is an adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s 1989 debut novel of the same name. I haven’t read her book but I’d like to, especially knowing that each chapter begins with a recipe.

After seeing this movie, I’m finally tempted to start cooking as opposed to just baking. Like Water for Chocolate is an incredibly luscious telling of the sensuousness of food. It begins with a young woman narrating the story of her great-aunt Tita (Lumi Cavazos) who grew up during the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s.

But it’s more than a story—it’s a myth, a legend. We’re told that Tita was unusually sensitive to food even in utero. She cried whenever her mother cooked with onions, and was born in a flood of tears which were dried and used as cooking salt. Not surprisingly, Tita matures into a something of a goddess in the kitchen.

At a party one evening, Pedro (Marco Leonardi) notices her serving dinner and falls in love with her. But when Pedro asks her mother for Tita’s hand in marriage, he learns that family tradition forbids her from marrying; as the youngest daughter, Tita must care for her mother until she dies.

Devastated, and according to logic that can only exist in the movies, Pedro agrees to marry Tita’s sister in an attempt to be close to Tita. And so begins a love affair that touches everyone around the couple—that is, anyone who tastes Tita’s cooking. She pours her heart and soul into every meal and unconsciously flavours each dish with her emotions. When she’s angry, her food causes indigestion. When she’s heartbroken, dinner leaves everyone weeping and longing for their one true love. And when she’s passionate, her food stirs up deep-seated lust and desire; her quail in rose petal sauce nearly brings her sister Gertrudis (Claudette Maillé) to orgasm at the table.

The quail dinner scene takes the film into some of its more serious subject matter. Driven to wild sexual abandon by her sister’s cooking, Gertrudis runs naked into the night and throws herself into the arms of a revolutionary soldier who is riding by on horseback. She later returns as the head of the revolutionary army.

Like Water for Chocolate eventually delves a little deeper into some of the Mexican Revolution’s darker moments. One particularly upsetting scene involves a rape and a murder. But these incidents aren’t the focal point of the movie, and are not at all graphic in their depiction.

Overall, Like Water for Chocolate is a sexy and delightful film about love and passion, folklore and magic, and surreal connections between the living and the dead. Highly recommended, particularly as a date movie. Just ask JP and CS. ;-)

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