Saturday, 21 December 2013

How does it taste?

In a blog called "Zen Habits", Leo Babauta promotes his Sea Change program, which is about forming good habits.  One of the habits that he is promoting is reading.  For $10.00 a month, you can register for his approach.  I have not done that, but in his list of favourite books, I saw the title:
"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender (c2010)
I knew this would be a take-off on "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel (c1992), which is a great book with such a novel premise.  Love books like that!  So I had to read this unusual title.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

In this novel, Rose, at nine, discovers that she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake that she baked.  She knows everything that is not being spoken of in the house- mostly her mother's affair.  This is similar to "Like Water for Chocolate" and I enjoy that type of magical realism.  However, Rose can also tell where the food was grown, sometimes as specific as the actual farm and whether it is organic.  Interesting premise, but a book needs more than a good idea.  It needs fascinating characters and a plot.  The mother, father, sister and brother never communicate and all seem severely depressed.  The plot consists of being concerned (or not) about the brother's disappearance.  This is really magical realism- he turns into furniture!  Sometimes he is a chair or a table.  You also discover that the grandfather had been able to smell emotions, so he had to cover his face in public to avoid the onslaught of emotions.

Like Water for Chocolate

This book is one-of-a-kind.  I found it extremely entertaining and read it twice.  It is a combination tall tale/ fairy tale/ Mexican cookbook/ home-remedy handbook.
It takes place on a ranch on the border of Mexico during the Mexican Revolution.
Mama Elena passes down the family decision that the youngest daughter may not marry but must care for her mother.  So when Tita, her youngest daughter, falls in love with Pedro, Mama Elena says that Tita is not available but Rosaura is and they marry.

Written from the perspective of Tita's grand niece, whose mother (Esperanza) and father (Alex) returned from their honeymoon to find the ranch covered in ash- cookbook intact, telling in each of its recipes this story of a love interred.
Like Water for Chocolate: being on the verge of boiling over.

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