Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee

Craughwell, Thomas J. Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2012.


The author claims that Thomas Jefferson's decision to take his slave James Hemings (brother of Sally) to France to study French cuisine changed the culinary landscape of America. Unfortunately the author did not make a very convincing argument and failed to adequately address how the impact could have come when Hemings died at such a young age. Certainly the author mentions that Jefferson had other slaves trained in French cuisine; however, that was not addressed enough to show an impact. While Jefferson's foods may have been know in his circle of friends, it does not have seemed to have impacted the food of the common man. I will continue to think of Julia Child as the one who brought (or at least reintroduced) French cuisine to the common man (and woman) in America. The author did a fairly good historical treatment of Jefferson in the years in which he was in France.  The writing itself is not particularly absorbing, but the food descriptions are more captivating. The facsimiles of surviving recipes of Jefferson and Hemings were printed in the back. This review is based on a copy received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with an expectation that a review would be written.

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