cover image Between Two Fires: Intimate Writings on Life, Love, Food & Flavor

Between Two Fires: Intimate Writings on Life, Love, Food & Flavor

Laura Esquivel. Crown Publishers, $14.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-609-60847-0

In all of these essays, Esquivel reflects on the essential way that food connects people to the important, spiritual aspects of life, often promoting her ideal of the New Man who ""will give equal value to production and reproduction, to reason and emotion, to the intimate and the public, to the material and the spiritual."" In essays such as ""Apple Soup,"" ""Manchamanteles"" and ""Chestnut Souffl ,"" she employs her characteristic blend of anecdotes and Mexican recipes. ""Oaxacan Black Mole,"" for example, comes with a story about the first time the author made the dish as a child--it took hours because she thought the chicken was supposed to be shredded before it was cooked! Other works are more philosophical, like ""God is Above, The Devil, Below,"" which describes the time the author gave up chocolate as a political statement. Esquivel has a strong, distinctive voice and a passion for her subject. Collections, though, can be tricky: at times, Esquivel is repetitious, particularly in her expositions about the New Man. To get the full benefit of her humor and insight, it's best to take short sips rather than long draughts. Two-color line drawings by F. Melendez throughout. (Jan.) Forecast: Drawn from her newspaper and magazine articles, book prologues and speeches, this collection of 14 essays will appeal to adamant fans of Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and The Laws of Love. Some general food readers, however, will probably skip over the title in favor of books by authors with true gastronomic credentials.