Hurriedly we prepare for our Civil War Picnic. Scouring several Goodwill stores, I am able to piece together an accurate costume and tableware. After much research, we settle on a menu of ham biscuits, hand pies, pickles, fruit, and shrubs. For convenience sake, we shop at our local ridiculous hipster market and spend an obscene amount of money. The food is authentically period looking though: the tiny ham is produced on a farm established in 1861, the pickles look homemade but are made by a 'bike riding pickling collective', the mealy Gold rush apples are blemished and costly. It occurs to me that this market is selling a readymade 1860's lifestyle.
At the reenactment, southern belles walk laps around the battle field. The sounds of cannons and gunfire deafen and force us to move our picnic. Smoke fills the scene. I am struck by the symmetry and orderliness of the battle style. Straight rows of equal numbered soldiers face each other.
For a split second while biting into my ham biscuit, I am transported. My mind stops resisting and I actually believe that I am observing a civil war battle. That brief experience is worth all the expense and effort and planning, It is the most convincing moment of all the Immersive events I have been to lately. A line of string around the perimeter of the battlefield is what brings me back to reality. The string serves not only as a physical boundary to keep spectators out, it is also a threshold of belief.
The food was the real transporting element, along with what little atmosphere we brought with us. It was even more convincing than the actors and their costumes. Because of this experience, I have decided to shift my focus to recreating historical foods and atmosphere. It combines my love of research, food and interior design. We even have a new name!
The Historical Society for Arcane Eating Practices