In celebration of her nephew Roberto’s baptism, Tita prepares turkey mole with almonds and sesame seeds. Pedro overhears Tita singing in the kitchen and smells the browning sesame seeds. Attracted by the smells, Pedro walks into the kitchen. The image of Tita on the floor grinding almonds and sesame seeds instantly transfixes him. The two exchange a longing and erotic gaze, until Chencha walks into the kitchen and interrupts their moment. After the exchange Tita no longer feels chaste even though she and Pedro never touched.
Tita continues cooking but the earlier encounter with Pedro distracts her. Not even Chencha’s exaggerated stories of the bloody battles in the plaza intrigue her. Seeing Pedro look at her with such longing reassures Tita of his love for her which she had begun to question once he stopped complimenting her cooking. Little did Tita know, Mama Elena had explicitly asked Pedro to stop remarking on Tita’s food because his praise upsets Rosaura.
Earlier that March, Tita awoke to pack some clothes for her sister Gertrudis. She sent them to the border town brothel with a man named Nicholas. After sending Nicholas off Tita was surprised to see Pedro packing up the carriage. And she soon discovered that Rosaura was in labor and Pedro needed to get Dr Brown to deliver the baby. On his way out Pedro asked Tita to watch after Rosaura in his absence. Since Chencha and Mama Elena were also gone (they went to fetch baby supplies for the newborn) Tita had no choice but to help her sister. Faced with this new responsibility, Tita cursed her teachers and her mother for never having taught her how to deliver a baby. Though she knew nothing at childbirth, Tita was the only one present when Rosaura gave labor for on that day Federal troops captured Pedro preventing him from getting to Dr. Brown. Additionally, shooting broke out in the village and forced Chencha and Mama Elena to take shelter with the Lobos for the night. Nervous about her inexperience, Tita began to pray that Nacha would guide her through the birthing process. Indeed, as the baby crowned Tita miraculously knew just what to do and when the family returned they were surprised by Tita’s skilled delivery. At Roberto’s birth Tita feels a new love for Paco and Rosaura.
The morning after Roberto is born Dr. Brown arrives to care for Rosaura who suffered complications from the birth. He admires Tita’s ability to successfully deliver the baby but he is even more awed by her beauty. Since the doctor’s wife died five years earlier, he had felt no attraction to any woman until seeing Tita. However, Mama Elena does not notice the way Dr. Brown looks at Tita and agrees to his continued visits to her home.
The ill Rosaura is unable to produce milk and the family must employ Lupita, a wet nurse and relative of Nacha, to nurse Roberto. However, Lupita tragically dies from a stray bullet and the family struggles to replace her. Meanwhile, Roberto becomes increasingly cranky and in an effort to appease him Tita gives him her own breast on which to suckle. She is shocked to discover that she has milk to give the baby. Pedro happens upon Tita feeding Roberto and shows his admiration by kissing her on the forehead. The two hear Mama Elena approaching and quickly separate but neither of them reveals that Tita is producing breast milk. Instead Tita claims that she appeased Roberto with a cup of tea.
Because of Rosaura’s illness, Tita becomes Roberto’s primary caretaker. She proudly carries him around at the baptism because Rosaura is too weak to walk. During the occasion Dr. Brown approaches Tita to make conversation. She tells him that she is not allowed to marry or have children because she must care for her mother until death. Dr. Brown is devastated by this news. All of the guests enjoy the party and the turkey mole causes each of them to become especially cheerful. Mama Elena is the only one who remains anxious during the party because of suspicions that something has happened between Tita and Pedro.
Tita overhears Mama Elena speaking to Father Ignacio about sending Rosaura, Pedro, and Roberto to live with her cousin in San Antonio where the medical treatment is better. Father Ignacio warns her that sending them away would leave her vulnerable in the wake of the impending revolution but Mama Elena insists that she has never needed a man for protection. Tita is dismayed by the proposition and decides that she cannot let it happen.
This chapter further elucidates the theme of fictive and symbolic maternal figures in the novel. Because of Rosaura’s illness Tita assumes all maternal roles for the newborn Roberto. In a sense, she and Pedro achieve what they have always wanted, a family of their own.
Tita participates in a performance of motherhood that frequently characterizes those who behave as mothers without having any biological relation to the children they serve. However, Tita’s relation extends even further than a symbolic motherhood. Miraculously, she is also able to nurse the child. This act further strengthens the maternal bond she has with Roberto as well as the romantic bond she has with Pedro.
Again, Tita’s emotions are transferred through food and nourishment. Roberto receives Tita’s love through her breast milk. The guests at Roberto’s baptism receive Tita’s joy through her Turkey mole. Finally, Pedro witnessing Tita both preparing the Turkey mole and feeding his own son falls further in love with the woman he would have liked to have as his wife.
Likewise, Tita also discovers a new love for her brother-in-law and sister after Roberto’s birth. Though angered by their union, Tita cannot help but love the life it produced. Roberto becomes the agent through whom Tita accesses a new and different love for Pedro and Rosaura.
While the war existed somewhat in the background of previous chapters, in this chapter it begins to become more prominent. Not only do the effects of war keep Pedro, Chencha and Mama Elena from being present at Roberto’s birth, but they also take the life of Roberto’s wet nurse. Moreover, Father Ignacio’s comments about needing a man for protection foreshadow the increasing danger that the war will pose for the De la Garza women.