Como agua para chocolate and ‘Intimas suculencias’: Laura Esquivel’s nueva literatura and the creation of a canon of women writing about food, knowledge and pleasure

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Since it was published thirty years ago Laura Esquivel’s first novel Como agua para chocolate has been the subject of intense critical debate. On the one hand, Como agua is associated with the ‘boom femenino’ of Spanish American women’s writing in the 1980s. On the other hand, it is dismissed as ‘light literature’. Esquivel’s subsequent work has received scant attention. This article calls for a re-assessment of Como agua in light of Esquivel’s own overlooked theoretical interventions published in an essay entitled ‘Intimas suculencias. Tratado filosófico de cocina’. ‘Intimas’ calls for, and outlines the characteristics of, a nueva literatura which would foster new ways of understanding the relationships between food, knowledge, and pleasure. This article uncovers the extent to which Como agua met the standards of nueva literatura set out by Esquivel. In ‘Intimas’ Esquivel also traces a tradition of Hispanic women who have written about food, knowledge, and pleasure. The women in this canon included Inés Arredondo, Dorelia Barahona, Rosario Castellanos, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and María Luisa Mendoza. This article revisits the work of these forerunners as well as developing a new understanding of Como agua, and highlighting Esquivel’s contribution to consolidating a canon of Hispanic women writers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Languages Open
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019



  • Como agua para chocolate
  • Laura Esquivel
  • Intimas suculencias
  • Dorelia Barahona
  • Rosario Castellanos
  • Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
  • Food and Literature
  • Ines Arredondo

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