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‘Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico’ Is the Bible of Oaxacalifornia

4:06 PM PDT on October 31, 2019

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles is the Oaxacan capital of the United States. Boasting the highest population of Oaxacan residents outside of the state itself, the same goes for the number of restaurants. Ground zero to all of that is Guelaguetza, owned and operated by siblings Bricia, Fernando Jr., Paulina, and Elizabeth Lopez. 

With the publication of Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico, authored by Bricia Lopez and our own Foo-in-Chief, Javier Cabral, serving as another crack in the monolithic notion that Mexican food is the same and lacks regionality. The book takes a deep dive beyond the classic dishes of mole and tamales wrapped in banana leaves, to divulging the diversity of the indigenous ingredients from this southern Mexican state.

The cookbook pushes the notion that Oaxacan culture is fluid by showcasing its roots. It is a prime example of why Oaxacan people greatly identify with their heritage beyond the borders of the country of origin. It’s clear to readers that it works to break down the notion that Oaxacan food is made up of simple flavors by pulling back the otomí revealing the beautiful complexity of the cuisine.

Photos of Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico courtesy of Quentin Bacon.

Gustavo Arellano, an author and Los Angeles Times reporter, provides insight into the cultural significance of Oaxacan culture: “Oaxacan anything is Mexico at its finest: A maligned culture and people who stayed true to themselves to the point that the rest of the world #respects them.”

There's not enough Mexicans doing Mexican cookbooks--whether as an author or a cook.”

Cookbook author, multi-hyphenate, and Los Angeles-native Richard Parks III, understands how the publication of the book seeks to further the notion of Oaxacan cuisine in America that goes beyond just the confines of our city. “The richness and complexity of the cuisine can not be reduced to a dish or a restaurant chain. Yet we have not come close to even being exposed to that in America. This cookbook changes that. For Los Angeles, Guelaguetza has carried that message for decades and now this book can push that message.”

Beyond that, the publication of Oaxaca is representative of the voices of its authors Lopez and Cabral, speaking via email with, Patty Rodriguez, the best-selling author, and co-founder of Lil' Libros, to why its publication is so important. “For most of our lives living in Los Angeles, we have known that our community has always been the majority, however, it is only now that it really feels we have reclaimed our voice. We are no longer waiting to get a seat at the table, we are building our own tables. When we allow for voices like Bricia's to tell her family's story through food, we are also allowing the history that has been buried in many of our hearts to be told.” 

Rodriguez’s comments provide a special insight in terms of why the great need for voices of Cabral and Lopez to be featured as part of today’s cultural landscape. According to Arellano, “There's not enough Mexicans doing Mexican cookbooks—whether as an author or a cook.” 

Voices such as theirs showcase their own ancestral roots, as well as their own individual perspectives having, came of age here in the U.S.  Thus providing a unique snapshot that is exemplary of both the future of Los Angeles and the rest of the United States. 

If it seems like everyone nowadays is going to Oaxaca becoming a vacation destination on par with Mexico City and Tulum, after reading the book you’ll get a better idea why that has been the case lately. It’s a haven where foreigners flock to soak up the local culture and indigenous-forward flavors, and through vivid images and recipes for all cooking levels, the book gives you a preview of this. 

Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena will be hosting “Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico” authors Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral to a book signing and panel this Sunday at 3 PM. There will be Oaxacan bites and it will be moderated by Carlos Salgado, the chef, and owner of Taco Maria.  For more information, find the link here

Full disclosure: Javier Cabral is the Editor of L.A. Taco. 

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