A Gold Rush Brunch

You don’t have to strike it rich to get a taste of this dish concocted in 1849.  

Finding gold in 1849 was worthy of a feast. It should include oysters! Bacon! Eggs! Voilà, the Hangtown Fry, an omelet studded with that particular meat and shellfish. California has few heritage dishes, which is why this one is so prized. It was created during the gold rush era in Hangtown—today’s Placerville, 45 minutes from Sacramento. The camp’s Hangtown sobriquet comes from exactly what you’d think in the wild frontier days of quick justice.

Placerville aka Hangtown_photo cred Ken Lund flickr:kenlundPhoto by Ken Lund via Flickr

The prospector of record that 1840s day struck gold, yelled “Eureka!” and hightailed it to the local saloon to buy the most expensive meal on the menu. As the story unfolds, and possibly diverges from the truth, the cook got creative with the three priciest items: eggs, oysters, and bacon.

Unfortunately, the Hangtown Fry in Hangtown itself appears extinct. Instead, taste it at San Francisco’s Tadich Grill, which has been serving it frittata-style since 1849.

Tadich Grill front_photo cred Sarah Stierch flickr:sarahvainPhoto by Sarah Stierch via Flickr