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Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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“…meticulously researched…”—Associated Press
“[a] well-researched look at the impact Jefferson and Hemings had on our eating habits.”—Chicago Tribune
“In Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America, author Thomas J. Craughwell serves up a lively story with a generous helping of culinary history....Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée is a charming book that will appeal to both foodies and lay readers.”—ForeWord Review
“Craughwell provides a delightful tour of 18th-century vineyards still in production, a look at French aristocrats just before the Revolution and the France that paid little attention to the color of a man’s skin...A slim but tasty addition to the long list of Jefferson’s accomplishments.”—Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
The basic premise is that when Jefferson departed with his two daughters to France he made a bargain with a favored slave 19 year old James Hemmings that if he learned to prepare the French cuisine that Jefferson favored he would grant Hemmings his freedom.
The ensuing tale is a blend of culinary discovery, history, innovation, domestic dealings, and tidbits and morsels of personal information about Jefferson's social life and habits.
I've enjoyed visiting Monticello, Jefferson's primary residence, on several occasions through the years. Invariably, the one topic that always comes up is Jefferson's love for entertaining along with his interests in architecture, farming, politics, and invention. This book touches on a lot of things that have become part of the Jefferson persona and some things that I have never heard from a tour guide. This book touches on the Sun King Louis XIV and his insatiable appetite for rich food,Jefferson's view of the French Revolution, his daughter Patsy's infatuation with catholicism and her entertaining the idea of becoming a nun and how T.J. disavowed of that notion. Jefferson was so taken by the French way that he even studied grape growing with the intention of producing their wines.
This is a relatively short book, but it provided an interesting glimpse of Jefferson the diplomat when he escaped international dealings to become a social being with ever expanding interests.
As such, it's a nice and pleasingly-readable compilation of other people's research, but rather insubstantial too. And, as one other reviewer notes, the inclusion of some of Heming's recipes was one of the reasons I bought this, but they're reproduced from the originals in not overly clear scans - couldn't transcripts have been provided at the very least?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was an all right book overall. The narrative skipped around a lot sometimes introducing threads and then never following up on them. Read morePublished 13 days ago by e94taylor
Well documented and engaging. Makes history come alive and sheds light on a more personal side of the era's leaders.Published 6 months ago by NancyinTexas
This book only rates 3 stars because it was lacking in actual facts, especially about James Hemings. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eileen Kay
Interesting history lesson. Thanking Jefferson for his wonderful contributions . Would have been more interested in James's life tale.Published 11 months ago by Kathy
HOW A FOUNDING FATHER AND HIS SLAVE JAMES HEMMINGS INTRODUCED FRENCH CUISINE TO AMERICA IS MISLEADING. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Hanna Alexander
Very slow. Also does NOT stay on topic, which was disappointing. Expected to learn much more about the slave learning French cookery than what was presented. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Elizabeth Jones
If you love food and history, this is an easy read and very accurate!Published 14 months ago by Judith P. Abbott
An exceptionally well-informed piece of literature. The historical vignettes were very well told and it gives a great detail about how people lived during the 17th centuryPublished 16 months ago by Gregory M. Washington