Study Guide

Like Water for Chocolate Chapter 1

By Laura Esquivel

Chapter 1

JANUARY, Christmas Rolls

  • We get our first recipe of the novel, Christmas rolls, and how to prepare them. More please.
  • Our unnamed narrator lets us know she is especially sensitive to onions, just like her great-aunt Tita.
  • Making a grand entrance into the world, Tita is born "right there on the kitchen table amid the smells of simmering noodle soup, thyme, bay leaves, and cilantro, steamed milk, garlic, and, of course onion" (1,2). (Symbol anyone? Anyone?).
  • Tita is literally washed into the world on "a great tide of tears," which the cook, Nacha, must clean up.
  • Two days later, Tita's father dies of a heart attack and her mother's (Mama Elena) milk dries up.
  • Luckily, Nacha is up for the job of feeding Tita.
  • "From that day on Tita's domain was the kitchen, where she grew vigorous and healthy on a diet of teas and thin corn gruels" (1,5). Delish.
  • Tita becomes a kitchen baby, hardly ever leaving Nacha's side.
  • Her sisters, Gertrudis and Rosaura, don't share Tita's love of pots and pans, but one day she convinces them to come into her world.
  • A cooking demo leads to Rosaura burning her hands, and Tita gets a big ol' spanking from Mama E.
  • One day, while making sausage on the ranch, Tita announces in front of the family that Pedro Muzquiz wants to come speak to Mama E.
  • Mama E tells Tita that "being the youngest daughter means you have to take care of me until the day I die" (1,22). Ouch.
  • Turns out there's a weird family tradition of indentured servitude for the youngest child (fun!) and Tita is stuck between wanting to obey her mom and wanting to follow her heart.
  • Unfortunately, the next day Pedro Muzquiz appears with his father (don Pascual) at the De la Garza house, ready to profess his burning love for Tita.
  • Not one to crumble under pressure, Mama E refuses to let Tita go…but offers up her other daughter, Rosaura, instead. Can we get a daaaaaaaaaaaaaang, that's cold?
  • Meanwhile, Tita is preparing the Christmas rolls, oblivious of the dagger being twisted into her back.
  • Chencha, the maid and queen of gossip, bursts into the kitchen, informing Tita and Nacha of the switch and exclaims, "You can't just switch tacos and enchiladas like that" (1, 48).
  • Confirming Tita's biggest fear, Mama E tells her that she agreed to Pedro and Rosaura's marriage.
  • Ah, but things are not always as they seem… Nacha overhears Pedro tell his father that he "will marry with a great love for Tita that will never die" (1, 57).
  • In bed, Tita remembers the first time she saw Pedro, and how she understood how dough feels to be "plunged into boiling oil"—she's got it bad.
  • Next day, not one to beat around the bush, Pedro confesses his love for Tita in the kitchen.
  • Oh, young love in the time of Revolution. Tita says she feels the same, and "From that night on she would love him forever" (1, 74). Aww.
  • Back in the present, Tita wraps herself in the bedspread she started the moment Pedro first spoke of marriage, but alas, she can't warm up her icy cold insides.
  • The chapter (and the rest to follow) ends with "TO BE CONTINUED…"
  • Huh?? We'll admit it; at first we're baffled by this culinary cliffhanger.