VIGNETTE > Victuals

Interior-of-Pioneer-Market-1899 – [ click to enlarge ]

An early visitor to Marin described a party in 1847 at Captain Richardson’s Rancho Sausalito as “a feast for the Gods”.  Squaws brought in roasts of beef, venison, elk, antelope and bear, plus ducks and quail on skewers. The abundance of meat was due to the practice of killing wild animals for their pelts and slaughtering cattle for hides and tallow. Fresh meat was produced in great surplus. Partition of the Rancho in the 1860s and 1870s attracted farmers and dairymen. Many were Portuguese immigrants from the Azores. Grazing land for domestic dairy cattle, horses and sheep replaced hunting grounds.  Vegetables, fruit and dairy products became available. In 1890, residential development of Mill Valley began. Initially there were no grocery stores.  Food came from San Francisco. A few wealthy families brought their Chinese cooks with them and continued their regular urban lifestyle:  light lunches at noon, tea in the afternoon and a full family dinner in the evening for the husbands who came home from their work in the city. In 1894, two grocery stores opened. The “Imperial Market” on Miller across from the railroad’s freight yard and the Pioneer Market on the corner of Throckmorton and Bernard.