; movieschocolatebooks: July 2014


Friday, July 25

Like water for chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Take several pounds of Caracas chocolate beans, roast them on a griddle, mash them into a paste with sugar and add some water. Sprinkle some longing over them, infuse the mixture with a little love and in the hands of the right woman, passion is decanted and magic -boil, cool, whip, boil, cool, beat- is distilled into the perfect dish. Such is life- it takes skills, sheer luck, enthusiasm, ache, loss, gain, enchanting the senses to create the right recipe. At least, this is the life of Tia and the story of her burning love.

Laura Esquivel's novel is well written and it has a rotund, circled structure. Each month opens with a recipe that instantly makes you mouth water and then proceeds with the details of both cooking and the love affair between Pedro and Tia. To some people, food and love go hand in hand and the passion one displays while merging into the secrets of cooking stems from the same source as love. There is something about the books that use food as an excuse to point at love or love as a pretext to have you first crave for the goodies then maybe grow a appetite for cooking. Or it might just be me reading this book on an empty stomach.

What I loved about Like water for chocolate is its simplicity, its unsophisticated language and that it feels like a soft old story weaving itself around your mind, taking you to a far away place and time. In short, the book belongs to the genre of magical realism. In order to shape magic and make alive amidst reality, one needs to set it against a historical landmark, such as the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917 when people united forces to reclaim their Mexico for the every day person and out of the hands of the dictatorship. But then again, a personal approach to history filters all factual detail and turns it into an exquisite mixture of flavours and senses, of ghosts and happy thoughts, of passion and resilience. When love is kept at a distance for years, its strength burns places, people, hatred, boundaries and the fire it ignites spares nothing but the cookery book. Tia's book is much more than recipes- it is the wisdom she gathered through years of suffering and of living through cooking to survive the outside world.

Yet idea that cooking could save you or any passion for that matter is quite intriguing. How much truth lies behind it? Could a human being postpone feelings and desires and take shelter into something other than love that fulfils her/him? Cooking is an art here- the unprecedented act of creating not only a meaningful, satisfying dish to enchant the taste buds but also a medium for all emotions that are channelled into its making. Such commitment is soul-delivering yet, in Laura Esquivel's novel, one cannot escape fate and the course that life is bound to take from the moment an infant lays eyes on the sizzling pot and falls asleep in the beating rhythm of the spoons. In the world of magic where choices are never ours yet come from the inlaid heritage of our own veins, Tia and Pedro burn for love and turn to ashes all that is not made of love or through love- the remaining cookery book is proof of their story and the way spices come to shift the course of a life that owes its grace to the flavours rather than to those around.

Twelve recipes for twelve months, one man for two women, one wedding for all, two baptisms for one, an army for a woman, and a recipe book for the rest of us- we could do the math, multiply, divide, add or even substract. We will be left with the memory of a great love -that of Tia and Pedro- and the excellent book of transcending the senses.

Tuesday, July 8

Lindt Tiramisu and Lindt Raspberry

When women ran the world, the palaces would be made of chocolate. (Luis Alberto Urrea, The Hummingbird's Daughter )
I am raising one whose passion for chocolate shall help her run all dreams till the end of time and build another world, if necessary. Lindt Tiramisu might just be the right incentive since women with passions -be that chocolate or any other- are meant to make a difference. Or it could be that any Lindt product is bound to charm the senses and make you wanna grow wings.

Lindt Tiramisu was created for women since only they can honestly appreciate the mixture of strong Espresso coffee, creamy mascarpone, and amaretto-soaked biscuits. I can hardly imagine any man with such a sweet tooth and the subtle taste buds that could value the finesse of chocolate. The outer chocolate is lovely milk chocolate only tempting you to go deeper to the middle layers of joy. It is amazing how they managed to pack so many flavours within a little square that tastes like brandy, coffee, almonds, double cream and yoghurt, all mixed to render the perfect bite. Let me tell you this is no ordinary product, it is more expensive and it has a different size. It comes in a smaller, more elegant package and the chocolate squares are bigger, which is basically the downside of it. It simply vanishes into thin air, leaving you still wondering about the intense experience. Its heavenly taste shall definitely "pull you up" in an Italian language, with a Swiss style, rendering you absolutely divine for a couple of eternally happy moments.

Then, the taste of alcohol grew on me and I got bolder: Lindt Raspberry. The raspberry flavour is encased into small milk squares. Again, an elegant presentation meant to draw you closer and win your heart, Lindt Raspberry is an unexpected experience. One might think the filling to be more like a soft jam rather than a mouthful of alcohol. Things with fillings are not usually my thing since as a rule, the chances you find a second favourite flavour in a small box are fat. Still, a berry-infused experience is always a gain and unlikely to disappoint you. It is also not as sweet as you would anticipate so it is not going to drain your senses into numbness.

Coincidences are by far overrated but if I were to believe in magic outside the pages of books, I would say I have been blessed by the god of chocolate with interesting readings and amazing chocolate tasting opportunities. Nevertheless, I am in for a world painted in soft shades of brown where women could build themselves into chocolate palaces of passion.