by Sarah Hall
I love food and politics, especially when they come together in a new book by Thomas J. Craughwell: “Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How A Founding Father and his Slave James Hemings Introduced French Food to America.” ($24.95) Many people don’t know that Thomas Jefferson introduced French cuisine to the United States. You can thank Mr. Jefferson for bringing us Champagne, macaroni ‘n’ cheese, and the namesake crème brûlée.
In May 1784, Congress assigned Jefferson to a commission of commerce to negotiate with Europe. During his time in Paris, Jefferson used this opportunity to learn as much as possible about French food and bring this knowledge back to the U.S. On this culinary adventure, Jefferson partnered with his slave James Hemings, who trained under the best chefs in France and shared his new skills with other slaves back home at Monticello. In return, Jefferson granted Hemings his freedom.
If you’re a history nerd who enjoys learning about good food, you’ll drool as you read this cover to cover. Available at Amazon September 18th.