Christmas at Sutter’s Fort

Swiss adventurer John Sutter built a large, walled trading post in the California wilderness, which included a blacksmith forge, a crude gristmill, a carpenter’s shop, a blanket weaving room, and a tannery.  Inside the walls was a kitchen large enough to feed the dozens of tradesmen, craftsmen, fur trappers, gardeners, and others who lived and worked at the compound. Life on the frontier circa 1839 – 1848 meant hard work from dawn until well past nightfall, but holidays inspired festive preparations of specialty fare. On Christmas Day in 1847, Sutter’s tanners and shoemakers threw a dinner for all the employees. The tables groaned with pig’s feet and peppers, beef chili, winter vegetables,  stews and soups, fish served with suitable sauces, an assortment of  baked or roasted wildfowl, and cakes and puddings.

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