Velvet Barrios pp 163-178 | Cite as

Only Cauldrons Know the Secrets of Their Soups

Queer Romance and Like Water for Chocolate
  • Miguel A. Segovia
Part of the New Directions in Latino American Cultures book series (NDLAC)


Shortly after its publication in 1989, Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate (translated as Like Water for Chocolate in 1992) garnered international acclaim in Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Like the book, the romance novel’s film version,1 with a screenplay by the author, received eleven Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures, becoming the largest-grossing foreign film ever released in the United States, to be superseded only recently by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). In 1994, Like Water won the prestigious ABBY Award,2 and was subsequently translated into thirty-eight languages. The subsequent flurry of novels on women and food bespeak Like Water’s powerful influence: Lora Brody’s Cooking Memories: Recipes and Recollections (1989), Jyl Lynn Felman’s Hot Chicken Wings (1992) and Cravings: A Sensual Memoir (1997), Gabriella De Ferrari’s Gringa Latina: A Woman of Two Worlds (1995), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices (1997), Pat Mora’s House of Houses (1997), Ntozake Shange’s If I Can Cook/You Know God Can (1998), Mei Ng’s Eating Chinese Food Naked: A Novel (1998), Joanne Harris’s Chocolat: A Novel (1999), Madeline Gallego Thorpe and Mary Tate Engel’s Corazón Contento: Sonoran Recipes and Stories from the Heart (1999), Ana Castillo’s Peel My Love Like an Onion: A Novel (1999), Betty Harper Fussell’s My Kitchen Wars (1999), Karen Stolz’s World of Pies: A Novel (2000), and James Runcie’s The Discovery of Chocolate: A Novel (2001).


Popular Culture Native Woman Mexican Woman Gender Assignment Ambivalent Feeling 
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  1. 3.
    See Joan F. Cammarata’s “Como Agua Para Chocolate Gastronomia Erótica, Mágicorrealismo Culinario,” Explicatión de Textos Literarios vol. 25, no. 1 (1996–97): 87–103Google Scholar
  2. Marta Contreras’s “La Novela: Como agua para chocolate de Laura Esquivel, La pelicula: Como agua para chocolate dirección de Alfonso Arau.” Acta Literaria no. 21 (1996): 117–122Google Scholar
  3. Rosa Fernóndez-Levin, “Ritual and’ sacred Space’ in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolat,.” Confluencia vol. 12, no. 1 (Fall 1996): 106–120.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Ursula A. Kelly’s “Incessant Culture: The Promise of the Popular,” in Schooling Desire: Literacy, Cultural Politics, and Pedagogy (New York: Routledge, 1997), 69.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I borrow the phrase from Ellen McCracken’s New Latina Narrative: The Feminine Space of Postmodern Ethnicity (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999). For a more comprehensive discussion of Latinidad as ethnic commodity seeGoogle Scholar
  6. Frances R. Aparicio and Suzanne Chávez-Silverman’s anthology, Tropicaliza-tions: Transcultural Representations of Latinidad (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1997) andGoogle Scholar
  7. Arlene Dávila’s Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), xii.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 28.
    See Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1982), 92–95.Google Scholar
  10. 29.
    Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983) offers an erudite analysis of imagined communities. Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature extends the concept of an imagined community to women readers of romance novels (see full citation in note 23 above). In Peas-ant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru Florencia Mallon offers a lucid account of Mexican and Peruvian imagined communities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Nestor Garcia Canclini, Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity foreword by Renato Rosaldo, trans. Christopher Chiappari and Silvia López (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995), 42–43.Google Scholar
  12. 44.
    See Doris Sommer’s Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 6. Emphasis added.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alicia Gaspar de Alba 2003

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  • Miguel A. Segovia

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