Recently, whilst surfing the net on an entirely different matter, I came across this blog on Como agua para chocolate http://posthegemony.blogspot.com/2007/02/literal.html by Jon Beasley-Murray, based at the University of British Colombia. Whilst some may be daunted by the title, Posthegemony, don’t let it put you off. His is a clear and readable style and this assessment is a summary, with which I have much sympathy. If you don’t, there is plenty you could argue with. Como agua para chocolate is on many curricula (school and university), sold extremely well, and is much discussed by academics. Therefore, I thought that there must be a world of blogs out there and some may prove to be very useful/interesting for those studying the book. Here is a selection of those I found. I have given them sub-categories for ease of reading.
Reviews of the book
Hooked on Books gives a quick review and (briefly) discusses why the novel was banned in a US school: http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/banned-books-week-review-like-water-for.html and another brief review is by That Book You Like contributor: http://thatbookyoulike.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/my-monday-like-water-for-chocolate/
For something slight more applied, Emily, on Reading While Female, writes a review that assess why the book left her conflicted: http://readingwhilefemale.blogspot.com/2011/06/like-water-for-chocolate-by-laura.html
Cooking the book: a selection of recipes from/inspired by the novel
Meagan, a baker who enjoyed the book makes the Chabela wedding cake from the novel: http://scarlettabakes.com/chabela-wedding-cake-baking-like-water-for-chocolate/.
She adapts the recipe to make the cake more suitable for home cooking. It is accompanied by beautiful photographs.
For a more personal engagement with the story, The Troika Table http://thetroikatable.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/family-stories-and-frijoles/ offers a mix of her own family stories of the Mexican Revolution and a recipe for fijoles inspired by the book, but not drawn from it.
Here are some who made recipes from the book, with little commentary on the novel:
Polvorones de canela and hot chocolate are on offer in this page: http://deliciouswebcooking.blogspot.com/2011/11/like-water-for-hot-chocolate-time-to.html
Chiles en nogada, inspired by but not taken from the novel: http://cocoaandlavender.blogspot.com/2011/11/chiles-en-nogada.html. Great photographs of each stage of cooking. Here’s a vegetarian version from Chef Jenn: http://chefjenncooks.blogspot.com/2011/06/vegetarian-like-water-for-chocolate.html
This one includes brief reviews as well as recipes made from the book by a team of bloggers: http://cookthebooksclub.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/the-roundup-like-water-for-chocolate
A recipe inspired by the book, but not from the book on Delirious Kitchen: http://deliriouskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/07/novel-nosh-like-water-for-chocolate.html
For an insight into how the food from the book can inspire in different ways, here is a review of some Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles by someone who got to know Mexican food through the book: http://www.burpandslurp.com/2011/11/02/ole-mole/
Food and films
These broaden the search out to include other films. Halapic give a quick review of Como agua para chocolate alongside 5 other films of latino origin that have food as an intrinsic part of their plot: http://www.halapic.com/2011/11/19/cine-latino-feast-your-eyes-on-jamoacuten-jamoacuten-tortilla-soup-like-water-for-chocolate-and-more-this-thanksgiving/ and here are top 10 films with food in them by EuroTV: http://www.eurotv.us/top-10/top-10-most-awesome-movies-for-dinner
Teaching the book
For teachers, a study idea for the novel from Susan Hyde: http://susan-hyde.suite101.com/writing-a-character-sketch-a40580
http://10tops.wordpress.com/: like water for chocolate wordpress blog, has nothing under the about section, but appears to have been set up by a teacher/facilitator to allow for class discussions. The contributors have interesting discussions about different aspects of the novel.
From my survey, it’s evident that there are plenty of short summaries by those who (mostly) loved the book and read it for pleasure. There are more still who used the recipes as a source of inspiration for their own experiments, whether these were new experiences or nostalgic returns to childhood memories. For those interested in knowing more about the food the photographs should serve to give a fuller picture to those who don’t live near Mexican areas, have Mexican families, or even if they are struggling with the language and the ingredients. Given the limited literary merit of the book, and here I return to Beasley-Murray, it is not surprising that there are few literary analysis of the texts. However, it has some value as a cultural ambassador for all those who have explored new culinary terrain as a consequence of reading the book.