Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee by Thomas J Craughwell

Here is a look at Thomas Jefferson that I've never seen before:  He has a position on the commission of commerce to negotiate with European powers and he lives in Paris.  I've heard all about his activities in the states, but Mr. Craughwell treats us to another aspect of his life that is unusual and interesting.

Quirk Books shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Mr. Jefferson is a widower and takes his oldest child with him on his journey across the sea.  The two younger ones are left with relatives.  He also takes a slave with him.  James Hemings is to be his cook and that turns out to be a great piece of luck for him.  It gives him the chance to train with a French chef.

This story is based on fact and the author has done his research well.  One fact I found interesting was that slaves could automatically claim their freedom in France.  So James could have left Mr. Jefferson's service if he so chose.  Mr. Jefferson offered him the chef's training, a higher salary than other slaves received, and freedom to move about as he wished.  That was worth more to James than his freedom.  He would also be freed upon their return to the states and his subsequent training of another slave to replace in the kitchen.  So he really was winning on all sides.

The tales of Jefferson's travels, various acquisitions, and changing tastes as he samples of the food of the lands was entertaining and amusing.  He hoarded wine, sneaked rice home, and started his own vineyard.  He amazed his friends with the new foods he served.  And he really enjoyed living in Paris and making new friends, buying new clothes and taste-testing foods.

Here's a unique look at a part of Mr. Jefferson's life that is not mentioned in any detail elsewhere.  If your child needs to write a report on him, this would be a good reference source.

Why not visit Paris in 1784 and see how our overseas neighbors were living then?

Happy reading.       

1 comment:

Shan said...

I enjoy reading stories that are based on fact about Canada, and assume most Americans do as well. The one thing I have always noticed when visiting the USA is how proudly you guys fly the flag...not much of that here in Canada and certainly even less so here in QC. I think it's great to see where we have come from, and just how far.