Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brûlée - Thomas Craughwell

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brûlée: How a Founding Father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America

Amazon description:  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, crème brûlée, 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!

I read this book as part of my book club - Kitchen Reader and I am SO glad that I did!  I really love this book.  It combines history and food - two of my favorite subjects!

This book is not just about food or just about history.  Instead it does a lovely job of combining the two into a very readable, enjoyable book.  I do think the subtitle could be misleading to some though, because while James is definitely IN the story, he is not the main character.

As someone who has to pack up and move frequently, I loved learning what he carried home when he left Paris, after living there for five years:
86 crates with kitchen utensils and equipment
wines, cheeses, olive oils, Maille mustard
seedlings of fruit trees and ornamental trees

Can I just say I LOVE his style!

I truly loved this book.  I think it would make a great gift for foodies with a love for history.  Or  maybe historians with a love of food?

Just read it already!

1 comment:

  1. Haha! You are right that this is a history book which is sort of about food. I wonder what foods you pick up when you travel. Are there things you miss from Brazil? When we visit other countries I like to bring back spices or herbs, tea bags or coffee.