Literary criticism has read the kitchen in Laura Esquivel's novel Like water for chocolate as the ideal site for establishing a female community and even feminist utopia from which to contest patriarchal power. This article openly contests such reading. It argues that Esquivel's novel, as the paradigmatic example of what I call "kitchen tales," is particularly skillful in keeping women within the magic-domestic realm and at the margins of any real public influence. Furthermore, I coin the term "table narratives" to designate an alternative group of female Hispanic fictions where women appear at the other end of the food production line, as consumers rather than producers of culinary delicacies. This article concludes that table narratives are the ones with a strong feminist agenda. They firmly place women within the public arena, instead of confining them to the kitchen and forcing them to be forever witches, virgins, nurturers, and mothers.


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pp. 29-51
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