After Nacha’s death, Mama Elena makes Tita the official ranch cook. Though she is sad to lose Nacha, Tita is excited to fulfill this role. Pedro attempts to improve Tita’s spirits by bringing her a bouquet of roses to congratulate her on her new position. However, when Rosaura, pregnant with her first child, sees Pedro give roses to Tita she flees from the room crying. Mama Elena encourages Pedro to comfort Rosaura and directs Tita to rid of the roses.
Tita is unable to throw the roses out and she clutches them to her body so forcefully that the thorns cause her to bleed and change the rose petals from pink to red. Suddenly, Tita hears the voice of Nacha telling her to use the rose petals in a recipe for quail in rose petal sauce.
Pedro enjoys the dish immensely and does not hesitate to share his delight despite Rosaura’s jealousy. Mama Elena also finds the dish delicious but decides to criticize it in order to appease Rosaura’s pain. Like the wedding cake, the quail in rose petal sauce causes strange things to happen when consumed. Through the dish Tita is able to convey all of her passion for Pedro who eagerly consumes it. Tita’s body appears lifeless because she has entered Pedro’s and Gertrudis appears overcome by sexual excitement as she fantasizes about a soldier she saw in Piedras Negras.
Pedro and Tita maintain eye contact for the entirety of the meal. Gertrudis is soaked with pink, rose smelling sweat and rushes to take a shower directly after the meal. However her body emanates so much heat that the water evaporates before it reaches her body and the wooden walls of the shower are set aflame.
Juan, the soldier that Gertrudis saw in Piedras Negras leaves the battlefield without knowing why and follows the rose scent to Gertrudis’ body. Juan hoists Gertrudis atop his horse and the couple mates while the horse continues to gallop. Both Tita and Pedro witness this occurrence and cry with envy for the couple that can partake in the passion lovemaking they have been denied.
When Mama Elena asks what happened, Tita tells her that some of Pancho Villa’s soldiers attacked the house setting flame to the patio and kidnapping Gertrudis. One week later, Mama Elena hears from Father Ignacio, the priest, that Gertrudis is working in a brothel. Shamed, Mama Elena burns Gertrudis’ birth certificate and forbids anyone from mentioning her name again.
Every year Tita makes quail in rose petal sauce in remembrance of Gertrudis’ magnificent departure from the family ranch. She also begins writing a cookbook and includes the recipe for the quail in rose petal sauce. Tita wonders what has become of her sister. Is she still naked? Does she feel the same cold grief that Tita felt after Pedro became engaged to Rosaura? Tita decides that Gertrudis must feel no cold at all but instead very intense heat and she goes outside to look at the stars. She believes that Gertrudis’ gaze alone could start a fire and she searches the sky for the one star that her sister might be looking at in that same moment hoping that it would reflect some heat onto her. However, Tita’s search makes her colder and she returns inside concluding that Gertrudis had been asleep the entire time.
Love shows itself to be stronger than any bond, including marriage. Despite Mama Elena’s efforts to keep Pedro and Tita apart, the two find alternate ways of showing their deep love for each other. Mama Elena’s rules are seemingly no match for the love that exists between Pedro and Tita. Passion also overrules Mama Elena’s discipline when Gertrudis departs from the ranch in the embrace of a Mexican soldier. Aided by Tita, Gertrudis achieves her own liberation from the ranch in the throes of passion.
The transforming power of food is an oft-repeated theme of the work and it is not absent from this chapter. The complicated exchange of emotion Tita manages through her quail in petal sauce affects each person differently. While Mama Elena and Rosaura appear untouched by the dish all others, Gertrudis, Pedro, and Tita herself, are tossed into fits of passion. Once again, Tita is unable to control the effect of the food on her guests and tonce again the effect redeems wrongs committed against her.
In this chapter Esquivel also establishes the dynamics of Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding. She foreshadows the many ways in which Rosaura and Pedro’s marriage will never be free from the passionate force that exists between Tita and Pedro. However, Esquivel also suggests that things may change with the birth of Rosaura’s first child.
Up until this point, religion has played a very minimal role in the work. However, this chapter reveals the ways that religion governs the actions and informs the rulings of Mama Elena. Shamed by her daughter’s pre-marital deflowering, Mama Elena decides to disown her entirely. Ironically, the parish priest informs Mama Elena of Gertrudis’ activity.
Finally, Esquivel further uncovers the structure of the novel as one that emerges directly from the family line it describes. In this chapter Tita begins writing her cookbook, beginning with the dish that sends Rosaura away from the ranch. With Nacha dead and Tita the only remaining heir to the secrets of the kitchen, the cookbook, a form of Esquivel’s work itself, is entrusted with the recipes and methods for future generations.