The legacy of the nopal is seen from the national flag and beyond. Known in Aztec legends as being the space where the nation of Mexico was founded, it represents the people’s own tie to the earth, their growth, and its undeniable force of strength.
For Gonzalo Guzman, the nopal was a more personal symbol–it was his tie to the earth, one that he worked on and nurtured in the fields of Veracruz, Mexico, where he worked on not just the nopal, but other infamous Mesoamerican ingredients such as corn, tomatoes and chiles. Taking it upon himself as the eldest child to leave home, he explored Mexico, its capital, and other landmark cities that gave to Guzman, the knowledge he learned with regards to his nation’s culinary culture.
Arriving in the Bay Area, with challenges that came his way with his desire to open his establishment Nopal in 2009, he fought to assure to his community of workers, and for the Bay Area itself, a space that can be counted on as being scratch-made and as close to home and the roots as possible.
It is an understatement to state that in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the restaurant industry. Guzman was hit with the challenge of needing to close his doors.
Nevertheless, like the nopal, Guzman’s remaining restaurants shined with a force of strength, especially through the publication of his cookbook in 2017 which allowed him to share the Nopalito story.
Packed with recipes that reflect the culture and beauty of Mexican cuisine, Nopalito can be purchased at LA Cocina Tiendita online by clicking here.