Food, its preparation and consumption, has always played a pivotal role in human culture and interaction. Traditions, rituals, regulations, even whole segments of the economy revolve around food and its production. At Rancho Los Alamitos, we use food, along with other interpretive tools, to talk about and share the history, cultures, and customs of the people who lived at the ranch.
The Faux Food Group (or Faux Foodies as they are affectionately called) is a highly specialized group of Rancho volunteers established in 2008. The team creates stable and durable fake food that is used in displays in the historic ranch house, most prominently in the kitchen, the butler’s pantry, the family dining room, and the ranch hands’ dining room. The group endeavors to help bring to life the early decades of the 20th century at a working ranch in Southern California, to spark ideas, conversations, and new ways of looking at the past by starting with the common denominator of food.
The Faux Food Group prides itself on researching the food that was served at the ranch during the selected interpretive period. The group only creates foods that would be available in the region during the 1920s and ‘30s. Exhaustive research is conducted using oral histories of actual ranch workers and family members, period cookbooks, ladies’ magazines, periodicals, and local newspaper advertisements. The Faux Foodies acquaint themselves with history of the food of the period, how it was prepared and how it was presented. Then they begin experimenting with craft materials to duplicate the look, texture, color, and sheen of the food in the recipes. Often the Faux Foodies prepare the actual historic recipe to have the real food in front of them, like an artist’s model, as they craft their fabulous fakes. The final product literally “looks good enough to eat”!