In 1784, Thomas Jefferson struck a deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old 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 that they 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.
©2012 Thomas J. Craughwell (P)2013 Tantor
"[A] tasty addition to the long list of Jefferson's accomplishments." (Kirkus)
Better narration and pacing would have helped a lot.
No not at all.
His voice wass heavy and foreboding as if he were one of those men who voice thhe coming attractions of horror or disastermovies. He could read twinkle twinkle little star and send chills up your spine. In addition his breathing is unprofessional, he inhales at the beginning of each phrase and the decision to quote the French in a French accent was a regrettable one.
Disappointment. The author goes off on strange tangents while painfully, obviously ignoring the white elephant in the room. The Hemings were mentioned only out of necessity. I was deeply disturbed by the authors fawning treatment of Jefferson to the detriment of the truth. This book was not, nor should it have been, a moral or historical treatise on Jefferson and slavery.however, the author was somehow inform us of Jeffersons hatred of a system that oppresses men and women and forces them to live in grinding poverty so the aristocracy can flourish- and this without eeven a hint of irony. At one point Jefferson is even admired by the author for spending half an hour in his garden in the afternoon. Very noble when human chattel toil, waveless and belashed the other 23.5 hours.thid was an unambiguous yarn and not the historical epicurean morsel I had so hungrily anticipated.
If you're interested in Colonial America, the Founding Fathers, etc., you may learn something from this book about Jefferson's tastes in food and where he sourced his farms. Unfortunately, the author spends more time giving historical context, much of which can be found in any other book about Jefferson, and less about food, much less crème brulee, and not enough information about James Hemings. Still, it is a fun read with an excellent narrator.
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