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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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Founder delights in cuisine of Paris

Foodie side of president revealed

By Kathy Habel

For The Free Lance-Star

“THOMAS Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée” by Thomas J. Craughwell is a refreshing and unique look at one Founding Father who was eager to gain as much knowledge as he could about food preparation, wine making and agriculture.

He jumped at the opportunity to go to Paris as commissioner of commerce to negotiate with European dignitaries, taking young slave James Hemings with him to master the art of haute cuisine.

Jefferson traveled throughout France to learn as much as he could about agriculture and wine making. He concentrated on the lives of the peasants and how they grew their crops. James was placed with top chefs and quickly became a master chef.

James and Jefferson had a pact that James would not try to gain his freedom while in Paris but would bring his knowledge back to Monticello and teach his brother the craft. Jefferson would then give James his freedom.

Jefferson and James Hemings, together, introduced Colonial America to new and exciting culinary arts. Jefferson spent years making Monticello into a modern farm that produced enough food to feed many guests and his many dependents and slaves.

Thomas Craughwell provides a well-researched and documented look at America in the 1700s. Unlike some researchers who provide a dry interpretation of history, the author makes reading “Crème Brûlée” a pleasure.

Kathy Habel is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.


By Thomas J. Craughwell

(Quirk, $19.95, 240 pp.)


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