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Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America (Anglais) Relié – 24 septembre 2012

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Revue de presse

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...a fascinating read...We have to confess to reading it in one sitting. It reads much like a novel than a history book and the passion for his subject shines through in the writing of author Thomas J Craughwell....a French cookbook with a difference. It still has French recipes, but concerns itself with the history of how French cuisine was introduced to America and the unique relationship between foundling Father and President of America Thomas Jefferson and his slave James Hemings. Readers learn that not only did Thomas Jefferson introduce crème brulee to America, but also French fries and champagne. He is also thought to have popularised macaroni and cheese to the American palate....include the earliest known recipe in America for ice cream and of course crème brulee --recipebookreviews, October----a must have book for lovers of history, food, and France. I think personally would have liked this man as Thomas Jefferson quoted wine as a necessary drink for life .......Yes I agree with that!However, he also considered many other things a necessity; books, salad oil, salt and hair powder. Now I ll go along with the lot but hair powder?! On with the book: This book tells the amazing story of how in 1784, Thomas Jefferson made a deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old James Hemings who was of mixed race. The Founding Father was traveling to Paris to serve as ambassador to France. Jefferson wanted to bring James along for a particular purpose - to master the art of French cooking. If James was willing to go along with the plan, Jefferson would grant his freedom. But why did Jefferson want to do this? Because the American diet circa 1784 was appalling. All meat was boiled and spices were very limited. Vegetables were overcooked to the point of mush and even the bread was stale. Although Thomas Jefferson had never sampled French cuisine, he had read about it, and he wanted to bring its secrets back to the United States so the two men went off to Paris...... James Hemings was apprenticed under several Master French chefs for 3 years before taking over as Chef de Cuisine in Jefferson's house on Paris' Champs d'Elysees. James prepared extravagant meals for Jefferson's many guests. Paris changed his life too; for the first time, he lived and felt like a free man. Back home in Virginia all Virginians assumed that any black person they encountered was a slave. However, slavery was unknown in France and more to the point it was illegal. Parisians who saw black men or woman walking down through their city may have thought them exotic, but never as slaves. But still he looked forward to the day he would return to America and become truly free. When the men returned home in 1789, they brought Americans the gifts of: Champagne, Pasta and even a pasta machine! French Fries as we know them today and even Mac and Cheese, Creme Brulee; and a host of other innovations. All in all: A great book and well worth buying especially as I said before, if you have an interest in History, Food and France this is for you. There's even a few of Thomas Jefferson's favorite recipes included some written in his handwriting which is sometimes a mixture of French and English, so a little tricky to understand! His recipe for Crème Brûlée is on the back cover and looks good. --aglugofoil, October, 2012...isn t a book of archaic French recipes, although they are mentioned. This is a fascinating snapshot of American social attitudes in that post-independence era, and of culinary customs of the French court and Parisians in particular --Mostly Food Journal, November, 2012

Taking place against the backdrop of the prelude to the French Revolution and including several original recipes, this fascinating narrative will appeal to politics, history and food enthusiasts alike. --Living France, March, 2013

Présentation de l'éditeur

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson made a deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old James Hemings. The Founding Father was traveling to Paris to serve as ambassador to France. Jefferson wanted to bring James along for a particular purpose - to master the art of French cooking. And if James was willing to go along with the plan, Jefferson would grant his freedom. Why? Because the American diet circa 1784 was appalling. Meats were boiled. Spices were limited. Vegetables were mushy and overcooked. Bread was stale. Although Jefferson had never sampled French cuisine, he had read about it, and he wanted to bring its secrets back to the United States. So the two men journeyed to Paris. James Hemings was apprenticed under several master French chefs for three years before taking over as Chef de Cuisine in Jefferson's house on Paris' Champs d'Elysees, where he prepared extravagant meals for Jefferson's many guests. Meanwhile, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially French grapes for winemaking), and researched how they might be replicated in American agriculture. When the men returned home in 1789, they brought Americans the gifts of: champagne (up until then, Americans had preferred sweet wines such as sherry and port); pasta (and a rudimentary pasta machine); Pomme de terre frites a cru, en petites tranches (Potatoes, fried in deep fat while raw, cut into small slices ...a.k.a. French Fries); Mac and Cheese!; Creme Brulee; and a host of other innovations. "Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee" tells the remarkable story of a Founding Foodie who transformed American agriculture - and the chef who transformed our dinner tables. This narrative nonfiction book includes six of James' recipes (reproduced in his own handwriting!) and six more from Jefferson himself. This rollicking adventure is great fun for fans of history, food, and France.

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Amazon.com: 74 commentaires
33 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent 7 octobre 2012
Par Wine Teacher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
There has been recent interest in Thomas Jefferson's food and wine interest and his influence on American viticulture and the culinary art. These topics are highly related to his time in Europe during the late 1780's, especially France where he served as a diplomat for the young nation. James Gabler's "Passoins: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson" was the first. It is a small book doing a very concise job of covering Jefferson's European travels in the and his experiences and comments about wines and wine countries. More detailed and with more original material excerpted is John Hailman's "Thomas Jefferson on Wine". This volume is more scholarly in its goal but it is more restricted to Jefferson's wine interest. More of a coffee table book is Damon Lee Fowler's "Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance". This one has a lot of very good pictures in glossy paper and some recipes. It is more concentrated in the food interest of Jefferson. Now, I need to get back to the new Thomas Craughwell book, "Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee". This book despite covering the same area that the other three books I have mentioned, it has much to offer. First, there is a very good story-telling narrative that is the back bone of this book. It covers well the ambiance of Parisian society just before the French Revolution, and from the point of view of a new visitor from America. It does a better job of the "time and place" aspect that any of the books I have mentioned here. The background stories about Jefferson's slaves, friends and family are well presented as part of the back drop of his time in Paris. They are robust stories and very interesting too. It ends up being a more holistic approach to the subject. The book spends a lot of pages on James Hemings as it should. Rather than just keeping count of the facts, the story telling approach should add to its popular appeal. The last part of the book shows facsimile of some of Thomas Jefferson's recipes and those with connection to him. They are so obscure and so hard to see that the effort is a waste. Some annotation would be very helpful. I think many reading this book would have interest in making food with connection to Thomas Jefferson, albeit recipes may need to be updated for the modern chefs. Some attempts in this area would have been nice.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Jefferson at the dinner table 28 septembre 2012
Par Bruce Trinque - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
"Thomas Jeffer's Creme Brulee" is subtitle "How a Founding Father and his Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America". It is unfortunate that James Heming's part in the story is known principally from what can be inferred from Jefferson's papers; the social realities of the era left little room for a slave, even a privileged one like James Hemings, to record his own experiences. James Jemings' youger sister Sally later became Jefferson's mistress, and various syblings and relatives held favored positions of responsibility in Jefferson's household establishment. When in 1784 Jefferson was sent to France as an official representative, he brought along young James with a promise that he would be eventually given his freedom if he learned the art of French cooking, then something almost unknown in America. We are able to follow Jefferson's experiences with French food (and wine) during this period in considerable detail, but of necessity we catch only glimpses of Hemings' role in all this. Part of the bargain was that James would be emancipated after his return to America and after he trained someone else in the Jefferson kitchen in what he had learned. Although Jefferson's appointment as Secretary of State delayed this proceedings, eventually James trained his younger brother Peter as a French cook and achieved his freedom. Some of the recipes that James studied in France, such as macaroni and cheese and French fries, became standard fare on American tables.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Serving Up More Than French Cuisine 28 septembre 2012
Par G.I Gurdjieff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I liked this book. While admittedly this may not be most readers proverbial cup of tea or favored desert, it takes a look at Jefferson who in many ways may be viewed as this country's first foodie. It also looks at the eating habits of colonial America, the availability of foods and their presentation, and the strong influence that England still wielded over the upstart founding fathers and the new nation as a whole.
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.
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Light and fluffy... 6 novembre 2012
Par stuart1776 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
While I enjoyed reading this rather brief book, I was also rather disappointed with it. Craughwell writes clearly and engagingly, but all he has done here is compile information and ideas from other sources - there's no new research included here. As a result, the book is a bit flimsy, and often strays from the story into little digressions, that often give the impression of simply trying to add another page or two to the book, to bulk it out into something publishable as a book rather than a magazine article. I was particularly disappointed in the lack of material on James Hemings and Craughwell's failure to add anything new to his story over and above Annette Gordon-Reed's "The Hemingses of Monticello" from 2008.

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?
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Boil 2 quarts of milk with a large piece of orange peel" (3.5 stars) 24 octobre 2012
Par J. Green - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I've read quite a few biographies and histories about Thomas Jefferson, but the aspect of his life that interested me most was his interest in food and gardening. Much of Thomas Craughwell's book covers the time Jefferson served as ambassador to France and the food fashions of Paris. From the sumptuous, lengthy, and extravagant meals of the aristocracy came a new sensibility and awareness of food that the aristocratically-minded Jefferson lapped up.

This is not an in-depth history of Jefferson's meals. Likewise, the slave James Hemmings plays a very minor role, probably because little was documented of his short life. Instead Craughwell fills in information about the foods that were popular in America and France at the time. He explains how the French excesses (including food-related) influenced the French Revolution. And this sort of background history that is often glossed over in many history books is what makes this one interesting. Likewise, I enjoyed the short appendixes discussing the kinds of foods grown in Jefferson's gardens and his fascination with wine.

But foodies looking for an in-depth examination of Jefferson's dinner table or James Hemmings' recipes may come away with more historical background than detail. I suspect that kind of 'mundane' information simply wasn't part of the historical record. Still, it was a fun and short read. (For a more detailed look at his gardening I recommend Andrea Wulf's Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation.)
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