Exaggeration is alive in this tale—just look at what happens to Gertrudis when she eats the quail in rose sauce, or when Mama Elena turns into a (goodness, greatness) great ball of fire:
The firecracker moved fast, approaching Pedro, whirling crazily, with enough violence to make the lamp closest to him explode into a thousand pieces. (10,686)
Obviously, a person can't change into fire (cue magical realism), but with this and many other instances, we really feel the impact of, say, two lovers separated by an evil mother.
Esquiviel is all about lush food descriptions and heaps of sensory images (use of taste, smell, sound):
The chiles anchos, with their membranes removed, are also toasted—lightly, so they don't get bitter. (4,215)
She's also pretty good at describing steamy romantic scenes, which, at times, even make us sweat:
Tita, on her knees, was bent over the grinding stone, moving in a slow regular rhythm, grinding the almonds and sesame seeds. (4,216)
These, along with fantastical episodes (wedding cake orgy!), weave a story that we experience like a five-course meal. Not only do we read the words, we get shivers from them, we smell the lard, we taste the toasted chiles. We really, really crave some Mexican food.