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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


Overview -

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.  Read more...


 
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More About Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee by Thomas J. Craughwell
 
 
 
Overview

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 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, creme brulee, 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


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781594745782
  • ISBN-10: 1594745781
  • Publisher: Quirk Books
  • Publish Date: September 2012
  • Page Count: 233
  • Dimensions: 8.47 x 5.52 x 0.85 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.84 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Presidents & Heads of State
Books > Cooking > Regional & Ethnic - French
Books > History > United States - Revolutionary War

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-06-18
  • Reviewer: Staff

To get a spirited idea of what people ate in America and France just before the French Revolution, Craughwell (Stealing Lincoln’s Body) tracks the gastronomical pursuits of Thomas Jefferson and his 19-year-old Monticello slave in France. As America’s commerce commissioner in France from 1784 to 1789, Jefferson, a man of many talents and ample means, was determined to use his time in Europe to collect information on foods, utensils, and cooking methods that would help improve the “rude, rough-hewn” American kitchen, table, and palate. He brought his favored slave, James Hemings (half-brother to his beloved, recently deceased wife, Martha), to apprentice to the restaurateur Combeaux. Hemings learned the art of French cuisine and, once back as chef of Monticello, earned his freedom by imparting that knowledge to his younger brother. In France Jefferson assiduously traveled and collected seeds, foodstuffs, equipment, and wines, utilizing Hemings’s newly acquired skills to stage grand dinner parties at his Hotel de Langeac on the Champs-Elysees. Craughwell includes a few of Hemings’s recipes—such as the “mac and cheese” dish that would delight guests back in America—but the former slave’s slide into drinking and his shocking suicide at age 36 in 1801 opens up a host of questions left unanswered in this otherwise pleasant history lesson. (Sept.)

 
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