Mama Elena’s death causes Rosaura to give birth prematurely. Due to complications during the birth, the delivery leaves Rosaura unable to get pregnant again. The pain of losing Roberto reminds Tita not to become too attached to this new child, Esperanza. Pedro tries to name the child Josefita, after Tita, but Tita will not allow it. She does not wish for the child’s life to be shaped by her own. Nevertheless, Esperanza has much in common with Tita even as a baby. She spends most of her time in the kitchen because of her mother’s illness and is soothed by the smells and sounds of cooking. Rosaura insists that Esperanza be brought up to her bedroom but Esperanza cries loudly whenever she is separated from the kitchen. To appease her, Tita brings pots of food upstairs to fool the child into thinking she is in the kitchen.
Tita is preparing champandongo for the occasion of Dr. Brown asking for her hand in marriage. She is running late however because of Esperanza’s neediness. While carrying food used to soothe Esperanza back down from the bedroom, Tita trips and spills the mole for the champandongo. Pedro finds her on the stairs and tries to dissuade her from marrying Dr. Brown. Tita yells at Pedro for attempting to tell her what to do and warns him never to mention his love for her again lest her sister overhear. She returns to the kitchen angry and continues preparing the dish.
Something that was said earlier that week also feeds Tita’s fury as she cooks. During a visit, Dr. Brown’s son Alex expressed his desire to marry baby Esperanza but Rosaura explained that Esperanza could not marry since she had to take care of her mother until death. Tita cannot understand why Rosaura wants to perpetuate the awful tradition. She has become “like water for chocolate”, so enraged she is ready to boil over with anger. Chencha interrupts the angry Tita and introduces her to her husband Jesús Martinez. Tita is pleased to see them both and asks Chencha if she will take over the cooking while she prepares for Dr. Browns’ arrival. Chencha gladly agrees and Tita goes to take a shower.
While in the shower, Tita notices Pedro staring at her naked body from outside. As he stares, her body becomes hotter and hotter. She quickly runs to her room to get away from his gaze. Dr. Brown arrives before Tita can dress and Rosaura and Pedro are left to entertain him. When Tita enters the room, she finds Pedro and Dr. Brown arguing over politics. She tries to redirect the men to more pleasant conversation. Dr. Brown formally asks for Tita’s hand in marriage and because Pedro is the man of the house, he must give the blessing. Then Dr. Brown announces that they must delay the wedding some time so may bring his aunt from North America to attend the ceremony. The delay saddens Tita who wishes to get away as soon as possible from Pedro’s advances.
Tita sends Dr. Brown away with a kiss and returns to the kitchen to put away the dishes. The “darkroom” where Mama Elena used to take her baths is now used as a place to store kitchen utensils. When Tita enters it to put away the utensils, Pedro stealthily enters behind her and closes the door. He pulls her to Gertrudis’ old bed and takes Tita’s virginity. Chencha and Rosaura observe light shooting out of the room but both believe it to be the sign of Mama Elena’s ghost and neither goes to see what is happening within.
Tita battles a need to suppress her emotions when Rosaura and Pedro return to the ranch with yet another child, Esperanza. In an attempt to protect her heart, Tita tries not to get too close to Esperanza. However, because Rosaura is ill, Tita ultimately becomes Esperanza’s primary caretaker. Esperanza is in many ways a reincarnation of a young Tita. She grows up in the kitchen and is comforted by the smells and sounds of cooking. Later, we find that Esperanza is the one who passes Tita’s cookbook on to her daughter.
This chapter carries with it a theme of anger. Tita especially becomes frustrated by the return of Pedro and Rosaura to the ranch. She is most infuriated when Rosaura announces her intentions to carry on the family tradition and prevent Esperanza from marrying until after her mother’s death. Tita cannot believe that her sister plans to continue this tradition and is enraged at the thought of another De la Garza woman being denied love.
Tita also feels anger as she tries to redirect her former passion for Pedro. Now engaged to Dr. Brown, Tita has no patience for Pedro’s attempts to woo her. She urges him to be loyal to her sister who he agreed to marry and respectful to Dr. Brown, who Tita intends to marry. However, Pedro’s insistence on bringing up his love to Tita frustrates her immensely.
Still, a strong physical attraction and response exists between Pedro and Tita that does not exist between Tita and Dr. Brown. A stare alone from Pedro causes Tita’s entire body to heat up. This suggests that Pedro is the oxygen Tita needs to light her matches, not Dr. Brown.
Inevitably, Tita and Pedro end up lying together in Mama Elena’s old “darkroom” after Dr. Brown returns to North America to get his aunt for the wedding. The happening becomes a spectacle that sends fireworks shooting into the sky. Onlookers in the house conclude that the light symbolizes the coming of Mama Elena’s ghost, and ironically, this prevents them from discovering the illicit affair occurring in the kitchen.