Natalia Molina Author Talk, Book Sale & Signing - A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community
7:30-9pm Sunday, April 30th, 2023 presented by Front Street Productions
MacArthur Genius Natalia Molina unveils the hidden history of the Nayarit, a restaurant in Los Angeles that nourished its community of Mexican immigrants with a sense of belonging.
In the 1950s and 60s, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles was much more than a popular eating spot: it was an urban anchor whose ethnic Mexican workers and customers formed a robust community. Molina illuminates the many facets of the immigrant experience from racism and segregation to family and community networks, the cross-currents of gender and sexuality, and the small pleasures of daily life. The Nayarit was a space where people could speak out, claim space, and belong. Natalia's editor, our own Isabella Furth, will be on hand along with staff from Libélula Books & Co, an independent book store in Barrio Logan, which will be handling book sales at our reception afterwards. Join us! Registration is free but required, sign up for your free tickets.
In 1951, Doña Natalia Barraza opened the Nayarit, a Mexican restaurant in Echo Park, Los Angeles. With A Place at the Nayarit, historian Natalia Molina traces the life’s work of her grandmother, remembered by all who knew her as Doña Natalia––a generous, reserved, and extraordinarily capable woman. Doña Natalia immigrated alone from Mexico to L.A., adopted two children, and ran a successful business. She also sponsored, housed, and employed dozens of other immigrants, encouraging them to lay claim to a city long characterized by anti-Latinx racism. Together, the employees and customers of the Nayarit maintained ties to their old homes while providing one another safety and support.
The Nayarit was much more than a popular eating spot: it was an urban anchor for a robust community, a gathering space where ethnic Mexican workers and customers connected with their patria chica (their “small country”). That meant connecting with distinctive tastes, with one another, and with the city they now called home. Through deep research and vivid storytelling, Molina follows restaurant workers from the kitchen and the front of the house across borders and through the decades. These people's stories illuminate the many facets of the immigrant experience: immigrants' complex networks of family and community and the small but essential pleasures of daily life, as well as cross-currents of gender and sexuality and pressures of racism and segregation. The Nayarit was a local landmark, popular with both Hollywood stars and restaurant workers from across the city and beloved for its fresh, traditionally prepared Mexican food. But as Molina argues, it was also, and most importantly, a place where ethnic Mexicans and other Latinx L.A. residents could step into the fullness of their lives, nourishing themselves and one another. A Place at the Nayarit is a stirring exploration of how racialized minorities create a sense of belonging. It will resonate with anyone who has felt like an outsider and had a special place where they felt like an insider.
Registration is free and required, sign up for your free tickets.
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