A People’s History of Southern California Foodways

The Southern California Foodways Project documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of Southern California. We bring together people from many backgrounds who have contributed to that diversity in a spirit of creativity, openness, and critical appreciation. We collect oral histories, support research, develop creative media offerings, and hold gatherings to preserve and publicize Southern California’s foodways of the past, present, and future.

Our inaugural spirit is informed by a public exploration of the contributions that immigrants and people of color have made, and continue to make, to the development of California cuisine. These stories are too often missing or marginalized from mainstream narratives about the state’s food history. As a result, white food producers disproportionately benefit financially — while accumulating cultural capital — from stories told about the state’s foodways. By understanding the ways people of color and immigrants actively participated in the evolution of the state’s foodways, we can better understand the ways in which these populations have impacted California culture as a whole.