I was at the Dana Adobe event, in Nipomo, on Saturday. I get invited to these things because I cook, and I make a great demo out of it. I had my metate out, and was grinding corn (lye-soaked corn, not hard corn) while the premade tamales steamed over the fire. And invited the kids to help me grind the corn. I got a lot enthusiastic helpers! I also showed them period sugar, both as cones (like you get in Mexican markets to this day) and slightly beige rock sugar, which has to be pounded (when it turns white). The kids loved it! I had them enthusiastically pounding sugar and grinding corn for hours! I was left with a nice batch of corn flour for the next batch of masa for living history tamales (yes, I seed the commercially pre-made flour with some that's been authentically ground).
And of course, my friends at the event, whom I was cooking for, loved the rice, the tamales, the chili sauce from an 1853 recipe... I also had one of visitors who offered to buy a tamale. I gave him two, and he gave me a buck. He said he wanted to compare them to his mother's tamales. His wife watched him "mmmm"ing over one, and asked "So is it as good as your mom's?" and he said "I don't want to say..." which got a grin from me. If it's as good or better, he really doesn't want to say... It was the same grin I go when a decendant of the Vallejo family told me that my empanadas reminded her of those she got in her aunt's kitchen back in the 1920's. I try hard to make difinitive Californio food! (And it's somewhat different from the standard Mexican food most folks think of.) It gets me invited to cool places, too.