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

Thomas Jefferson s Creme Brulee How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America This culinary biography recounts the deal that Thomas Jefferson struck with his slaves James Hemings The founding father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along for a particular p

  • Title: Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America
  • Author: Thomas J. Craughwell
  • ISBN: 9781594745782
  • Page: 500
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America

    This culinary biography recounts the 1784 deal that Thomas Jefferson struck with his slaves, 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 UniThis culinary biography recounts the 1784 deal that Thomas Jefferson struck with his slaves, 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 the might be replicated in American agriculture The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, cr me br l e, and a host of other treats This narrative history tells the story of their remarkable adventure and even includes a few of their favorite recipes

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    One thought on “Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America

    1. Joanne

      This combines two of my favorite topics- American history and food. In 1784 Thomas Jefferson makes a deal with his slave, James Hemings. James will travel with him to France and be trained in the fine art of French cooking, and will then bring this knowledge back home to train the slaves at Monticello. After this service is completed, James is to be granted his freedom. Much of the story involves the events that are going on in France at the time, the revolution against the monarchy of Louis XVI [...]

    2. Liz

      I had high hopes for this book, but I was disappointed - I think it may have had a lot to do with the title. James Hemings got less than a chapter's worth of discussion in total, and much of that was conjecture. I understand the difficulty of constructing a narrative for a slave in this time period, but that's what I expected to read based on the title, the back cover, and the book jacket. If the title had been, say, "Jefferson's Palate: How a Founding Father's Appetites Introduced French Cuisin [...]

    3. Margaret Sankey

      I read a lot of food history, and many of the books rhapsodize about Jefferson bringing French technique and food to America. This is the first to come out and really emphasize that Tom was not in the kitchen making the food and that there is more to the story than Jefferson's wine receipts and the commentary of his dinner guests. Craughwell looks into the tragic, difficult life of James Hemings, and finds in French records fuller commentary on Jefferson's decision to have one of his slaves trai [...]

    4. Anna

      " when he went to Europe, he traveled with his eyes and his mind wide open, and his taste buds eager for the next delicacy. Like a true tourist, Jefferson could not wait to bring the treasures he found back to the United States, hence all the crates of mustard, and nectarines, and almonds, and olive oil, not to mention the 680 bottles of wine. Jefferson didn't abandon his native victuals, he married them to those from France."Thomas J. Craughwell, Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee"In 1814, after [...]

    5. Melissa McCauley

      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 transcribe [...]

    6. Diane S ☔

      A mix of french food and history, with some of my favorite founding fathers and other famous notaries, how can it miss? I loved reading about Jefferson, his amazing gardens, Franklin and his famous inventions and his down at the heel personae he presented to the French and made them fall in love with him. John Adams who was so afraid he would not be remembered and would be overshadowed in history. But, these were all things I had read before, what was new was Jefferson taking his slave Henning w [...]

    7. Delta

      I've read a lot of non-fiction books on food and this might be the most boring thus far. The title is extremely misleading and the information on the topic is thin and full of conjecture. I estimate at least 40% of the actual text has nothing to do with Jefferson or Hemings; mostly it's context of the culture at the time (which is important) but feels like Craughwell was trying to meet a minimum number of words/pages.

    8. Robin

      Betcha didn't know that Thomas Jefferson and his slave James Hemings were responsible for bringing champagne, French fries, and yes, creme brulee to the American palate. This was a fun adventure by the publisher who brought you MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDEREN.

    9. Timothy Finucane

      I bought this book because it looked like it might be a light, fun foodie read embedded in a little history. It turned out to not be quite the foodie extravaganza I thought it would, though it was a short, fast read with more non-food related history than I thought it would. Now mind you, I love the history, but it's not how the cover of the book sells itself which may be deceptive to others who pick it up. In general the book just meanders off on sidetracks from food on a regular basis and I wa [...]

    10. Alice

      I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not just for the Jefferson family history, but for a glimpse of the lifestyle during that period in America. The kitchen practices and customs of the time are a fascination to me, and I feel we are so lucky to have had a variation in cuisine introduced to what was clearly a limited variety and lifestyle (to our way of living currently).The role of the Hemings family, and all of the slaves in Jefferson's household, was complex- this book did much to enlighten that [...]

    11. Rebecca Huston

      While this was interesting for the food history about French and American styles during the late eighteenth century, and Thomas Jefferson's time in France and Italy, this book was only mediocre for me. I was hoping that there would be more about people were eating, and what they were eating. But instead, it only touched on those topics lightly, and did not provide any redactions or recipes within the books. Pity. While you can go to the author's website to find them, it would have been much more [...]

    12. John

      I read the previous reviews of this book, so I wasn't expecting too much but even at that I was shocked at how thin (and I don't mean number of pages) this book was. Very little is known about the slave James, so the author uses hypothetical constructions of the type 'if James had seen this he would have' or 'it could very well be that James was present and' to give some weight to his story. Also, as the author himself explains, Jefferson may have introduced French cuisine but it was not taken u [...]

    13. Jaylia3

      An entertaining mix of history and food, most of this book is spent on the time Thomas Jefferson was in Paris, along with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as an ambassador of sorts for the newly formed United States. Jefferson took along his slave James Hemings--brother to Sally Hemings who joined them later--so Hemings could study the arts of fine cooking with some of France's most renown chefs. Readers learn not just what politicians and ordinary citizens in France and America were doing--wha [...]

    14. Robin

      Short and sweet! Craughwell tried very hard to stay within the culinary aspects of Jeffeson and to speak minimally on his political life or private life. Discussion of culinary training for James Hemings, complete with his tools and recipes learned and shared upon return to America, copies of 8 in James' handwriting still in existence today. Jefferson took a three month trip through the French countryside to discover wines, types of grapes, fruits, vegetables, how they were grown, to gather seed [...]

    15. Jocelyn

      I enjoyed learning the culinary details about Jefferson's time in France that exist, but this, in toto, was a bit thinner and more conjectural than what I was hoping for. This'd be great supplementary reading at the high school or college level, but if you've read a lot of food history, it will almost certainly fall short of your expectations. Funnily, the appendix is the most informative - short chapters on Jefferson as wine connoisseur, his love of vegetables, and African foods at Monticello. [...]

    16. Pointsandwheels

      this was a well-written read, but the subject matter is decidedly lacking. It's a very interesting look at Jefferson's time in France, specifically about the culinary traditions that he discovered and brought back, but there's simply very little there there. James Hemmings gets short shrift, due to the paucity of information about him, and in the end, the author admits that Jefferson's love of French cuisine and modes of gastronomic pleasure didn't impress itself in America until the twentieth c [...]

    17. Lorraine

      Although well researched, I would hardly state the central focus of this book was the relationship between Jefferson & Hemings, and how they brought French style cooking to America, as the cover of the book suggest,Hemings was hardly mentioned, what a disappointment! That said, the history buff that I am, I still found 'Thomas Jefferson's Crème Brûlée interesting.

    18. Annette

      I found James Hemings fascinating, but he really had a small part in this book - apparently no one documented the life of a freed slave nearly as well as that of a prominent politician.

    19. Candice Opper

      While this was published a few years ago, the language used to describe people that were enslaved was absolutely abhorrent. Also, it really was more a travelogue about what Jefferson did in France, rather than James Hemings' training in French cooking. He was there, but only rarely. And they mentioned Sally Hemings in passing, but glanced over her import there.Overall, this was not good.

    20. Anne Morgan

      A fascinating, well researched, well written book on early American and French food. A fast, easy read and very interesting. I will definitely be looking into some of the books in the bibliography to get some more in-depth reading on any number of questions this book raises.

    21. Mary

      This is more a history of the late 18th century food scene in Paris than it is about Jefferson and his family. It has very little information about the actual recipes.

    22. Jon Laiche

      Thomas J. Craughwell. Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brûlée Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2012.One of the ongoing requirements when one claims to be a culinary historian is the infamous"survey of the field”. Thus I found myself excited one evening at the local bookstore when I stumbled upon Mr. Craughwell’s “Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée”. Not only am I a lifelong admirer of Thomas Jefferson and have read much about his life and career but I am also in the midst of composing a culinary histor [...]

    23. Yosef Shapiro

      This book is about French foods and cooling techniques that founding father Thomas Jefferson brought back from France. Along the way, the author provides many interesting historical tid bits about Jefferson and his contemporaries.

    24. J.

      I received this book through the GoodReads First-Reads program.To start off, the title of this book is misleading. In an effort to remain objective and factual, the narrative doesn't contain much information about the time James Hemings spent in France, or elsewhere, likely because there is little to no record of it. It's disappointing but understandable from a storytelling perspective. However, when your secondary protagonist shows up only occasionally and then only from a distance, perhaps the [...]

    25. Libby

      Thomas Jefferson was a super-foodie. His garden books and personal journals reveal a guy devoted to good eats. His favorite vegetable seems to have been sweet peas, he becomes positively rhapsodic over his delectable peaches and he favored game birds such as canvasback ducks. (All good choices IMOH.)So it was just natural that when he was appointed Ambassador to France, he would take his clever and intelligent slave James Hemmings along with him to learn the art of French Cuisine. This involved [...]

    26. Sarah

      The fact that Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni and cheese to America is relatively well-known -- maybe it's just the nerdy circles I travel in, but it's one of those pieces of trivia that seems to be tossed around with some regularity. But did you know that Jefferson tried to smuggle rice out of Italy, or that he tried to establish olive-growing in South Carolina?This thin volume touches on a number of different topics. Far from simply being a culinary history, it covers a lot of ground: Jef [...]

    27. Matt Simmons

      While an interesting conceit, Craughwell manages to do very little here that we don't already know. Here's the gist: Jefferson, as we all know, was our epicurean, polymathic Founding Father, and he had a love for the French--their land, their plants, their people, their culture. We also know that Jefferson owned slaves, and that one particular slave family, the Hemmingses, were kin to him by marriage and quite special to him.But did we know that Jefferson took James Hemmings to France with him d [...]

    28. Gwen

      Rather disappointing, actually. This was far less a book about James Hemings' role in developing a new American food culture and more about Thomas Jefferson's travels in France and what all he brought back to America. Craughwell admits that there is scant physical evidence to say much of anything substantive about Hemings' work--but then why give the book this title? I thought this book was decent, if a bit light on detailed endnotes and references, but not quite what I thought it would be.This [...]

    29. Marilyn

      This book seemed to pull together lots of what I already knew about Jefferson's love of food and its science, having taken the tour at Monticello and brought home both a video & cookbook related to the subject. At the same time, it added facts I'd either forgotten or never knew. I liked that the author puts Jefferson's foodie interests within the context of history, including the French Revolution. Well worth reading but can sometimes be a little dry in parts. Especially interesting for thos [...]

    30. Christina

      Interesting, surprisingly fast read for nonfiction. However, I think it would have made more sense to have titled the book, "Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father Introduced French Cuisine to America." Granted, his slave James Heming did all of the cooking, but considering his important role, he wasn't mentioned all that much. Only a few of his recipes have survived and the things that were written about him had more to do with his learning and teaching contracts and his promise [...]

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