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

by Thomas J. Craughwell

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19334123,488 (3.12)16
In 1784, Thomas Jefferson struck a deal with one of his slaves, nineteen-year-old James Hemings. The founding father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along for a particular purpose-to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James's cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom. Thus began one of the strangest partnerships in United States history. As Hemings apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so that they might be replicated in American agriculture. The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, and a host of other treats. This narrative history tells the story of their remarkable adventure.… (more)
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    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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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
While the subject was interesting the work was written in simple, uncomplicated terms, I would not recommend this book to anyone serious about food history. Although the author uses many prime sources, and the book is filled with direct quotes, many facts do not seem to have a source, despite the (seemingly) extensive citation index. ( )
  Sennie_V | Mar 22, 2022 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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In 1784, Thomas Jefferson struck a deal with one of his slaves, nineteen-year-old James Hemings. The founding father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along for a particular purpose-to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James's cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom. Thus began one of the strangest partnerships in United States history. As Hemings apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so that they might be replicated in American agriculture. The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, and a host of other treats. This narrative history tells the story of their remarkable adventure.

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