Recipe: Hangtown Fry

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Libby O’Connell is chief historian for the History Channel and author of several books. Her new book, The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites, catalogs our edible heritage bite by bite.

She recounts the origin story of the Hangtown Fry, named after Hangtown, California which is now Placerville. According to lore, when a doomed prisoner was offered a last meal he requested two of the most expensive and hard to find ingredients: oysters and eggs. It took days for the goods to arrive from San Francisco and cost his jailers a small fortune, and though the prisoner ultimately perished the dish stuck. You can still find “Hangtown Fry” on the menu at the Tadich Grill in San Francisco today.

O’Connell shares her recipe below.