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Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a…

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James… (edition 2012)

by Thomas J. Craughwell

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Title:Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America
Authors:Thomas J. Craughwell
Info:Quirk Books (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell

  1. 00
    Passions : The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson by James M. Gabler (sgump)
    sgump: Here you'll find more details about Thomas Jefferson's reactions to the food and wine he partook in Europe in the late 1780s.

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Unabridged audiobook:

The reader uses a rather exaggerated "French" accent when quoting French speakers.
  rakerman | Jun 3, 2016 |
This book is a delightful look at Thomas Jefferson and his love of food. The author’s writing style makes it a quick and easy read. Readers looking for a more “serious” historical record should look elsewhere -he gives a thumbnail sketch of the man, his life in politics, and acknowledges the controversy surrounding his personal life but concentrates on food. The pictures of actual recipes in Jefferson’s and Hemings’ handwriting were wonderful, I just wish there had been more transcribed so that I could read them.

I found the information about the eating habits of Colonial Americans and French peasants and aristocrats to be extremely interesting. Often when reading history books, I find it hard to picture the actual people who lived at that time. In my opinion, many historians get so bogged down in facts they forget these were living, breathing, feeling people… what did they wear, how did they entertain themselves, what did they eat?
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
This was the perfect blend of Thomas Jefferson history and culinary history. I really enjoyed the material and how it was packed with detail. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Regards Jefferson as a "nice slave owner" much lighter than other recent books in tone, amusing if not original. ( )
  Janientrelac | Dec 10, 2014 |
"Boil 2 quarts of milk with a large piece of orange peel"

I've read quite a few biographies and histories about Thomas Jefferson, but the aspect of his life that interested me most was his interest in food and gardening. Much of Thomas Craughwell's book covers the time Jefferson served as ambassador to France and the food fashions of Paris. From the sumptuous, lengthy, and extravagant meals of the aristocracy came a new sensibility and awareness of food that the aristocratically-minded Jefferson lapped up.

This is not an in-depth history of Jefferson's meals. Likewise, the slave James Hemmings plays a very minor role, probably because little was documented of his short life. Instead Craughwell fills in information about the foods that were popular in America and France at the time. He explains how the French excesses (including food-related) influenced the French Revolution. And this sort of background history that is often glossed over in many history books is what makes this one interesting. Likewise, I enjoyed the short appendixes discussing the kinds of foods grown in Jefferson's gardens and his fascination with wine.

But foodies looking for an in-depth examination of Jefferson's dinner table or James Hemmings' recipes may come away with more historical background than detail. I suspect that kind of 'mundane' information simply wasn't part of the historical record. Still, it was a fun and short read. (For a more detailed look at his gardening I recommend Andrea Wulf's Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation.) ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
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In 1784, Thomas Jefferson traveled to Paris with one of his slaves, nineteen-year-old James Hemings. The particular purpose for which they traveled to Paris-- to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James's cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom.--Dust jacket.… (more)

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