Authors on Stage with Thomas Craughwell
[September 2012]—Thomas Jefferson’s role in history as a founding father, author of The Declaration of Independence and third president of our nation stands without question. But a gourmet? Apparently there were other intriguing sides to Jefferson that have only recently come to light. Join Thomas Craughwell on Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m. as he introduces us to Jefferson’s passion for agricultural and gastronomical knowledge through his latest book, the fascinating non-fiction narrative, Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulee. Craughwell appears at the Library as part of the Authors on Stage series; the event will be held in the Lamb Room and is co-sponsored by Elm Street Books.
Thomas Jefferson was appointed commerce Minister to France in 1784 and soon after struck an unusual deal with his favored slave, 19-year old James Hemings. Jefferson, a man of means and many talents, promised Hemings his freedom upon return if he would learn the art of French cooking under the restaurateur Combeaux. Jefferson was bent on spending his time in Europe educating himself on foods, cooking methods, and the cultivation of crops (particularly grapes for wine-making) that would improve the “rude, rough-hewn” American palate and table. The two returned with culinary marvels unknown to Americans at the time – champagne, crème brulee, French fries and much more. This fascinating book serves up a tale of culinary and historical adventure and includes 12 original recipes.
Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of several nonfiction books, including Stealing Lincoln’s Body (Harvard University Press, 2007), which was adapted into a documentary by the History Channel. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut.