I saw this movie, with my intended, when we were in the full flush of love. But you don't have to be in love to appreciate the beauty of this cinematic gem directed by Alfonso Arau.The title alone, especially in Spanish, (Como Agua Para Chocolate - go on, say it and see if you don't get goosebumps)is deeply evocative and the movie delivers on all the unspoken promises the title makes. "Like water for chocolate" is apparently a Spanish colloquism/euphemism for sexual frustration - something this movie has in truckloads, and refers to being offered water when what you long for is chocolate. FRUSTRATION.

The story takes place in early twentieth century Mexico. Tita, the youngest daughter of Elena, who has two other older daughters, captures the heart of Pedro, a handsome young man of the same village. He approaches Elena to declare his passionate love for Tita and asks for her hand in marriage. Tita who is equally enthralled by Pedro is crushed when her mother chooses to enforce a continuing family tradition of having the youngest daughter remain single and be the caregiver of the mother, unto the death of the mother.

Elena instead offers her eldest daughter Rosaura, to Pedro, who unable to have Tita, accepts her sister, just so he can be close to Tita, though he feels no love for the eldest sister. So the unhappy couple are forced to live under the same roof, see each other, and be in almost constant proximity while battling their blistering passion for each other, but cursed to never be able to touch. Oh, the exquisite torture! The only way Tita can express her frustrated passions is through cooking. She pours her heart, soul and longing into everything she prepares and those who taste her cooking are deeply affected, gastronomically and even physically, by the force of her feelings.

The movie is lushly atmospheric and lovingly shot in mostly sepia tones;it has the feeling of looking through antique photo albums. Interspersed throughout the movie are delightful recipes that Tita prepares in mesmerising detail. One recipe, Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, still stands out, after 16 years. This beautiful, poetic movie paints an exquisitely painful potrait of searing but unfulfilled love and longing, and gratifies on all levels. A masterpiece and highly recommended. Available on Amazon.