The Deep Dive

Like Water for Chocolate: A Personal Journey into Mexican History

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Vanessa Diaz

Managing Editor

Book Riot Managing Editor Vanessa Diaz is a writer and former bookseller from San Diego, CA whose Spanish is even faster than her English. When not reading or writing, she enjoys dreaming up travel itineraries and drinking entirely too much tea. She is a regular co-host on the All the Books podcast who especially loves mysteries, gothic lit, mythology/folklore, and all things witchy. Vanessa can be found on Instagram at @BuenosDiazSD or taking pictures of pretty trees in Portland, OR, where she now resides.

It was a Friday night in the early 2000s and I was nursing a broken heart when my college bestie arrived at my dorm room bearing snacks, booze, and a box of Garnier Fructis hair dye. Like the good friend she was, she knew good company, a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, truly terrible tequila, and a questionable hair decision was just what I needed at that moment.

Somewhere between rounds of shots and a 30-minute box color processing time, we decided we’d put on a movie. She suggested Like Water For Chocolate, the film based on one of her favorite books, and was appalled that I’d neither seen the film nor read the book. A few days later, she lent me her copy of this Laura Esquivel classic of magical realism, which I inhaled in a couple of days. 

The book is told in monthly installments, each opening with a recipe for a dish that appears in the chapter that follows. In recipes for dishes like tortas de Navidad (Christmas rolls), codornices en pétalos de rosas (quail in rose petal sauce), and chiles en Nogada (stuffed poblano chiles in a walnut-based cream sauce), the flavors and aromas of these beautiful foods were as bewitching to me as the story itself. This is actually what I originally set out to write about, how reading this novel made my mouth water as my heart swelled and inspired a whole journey of food discovery. 

But as I began to put to paper what this novel meant to me, I realized my connection to this book is deeper than tasty recipes and a lifelong love of magic + foodie fiction. This novel taught me a ton about Mexican history, a history I don’t know when I would have learned had this reading experience not sent me in search of it.

Membership Required

Already a member? Log in here