In a thoroughly captivating culinary biography by Thomas Craughwell entitled, “Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America,” we learn of the 1784 deal that Thomas Jefferson made with his slave, 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 Hemings’ cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom.
Thus began one of the most unusual partnerships in United States history.
As Hemings apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so they might be replicated in American agriculture.
The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, and crème brûlée. The narrative tells the story of their remarkable adventure — and even includes a few of their favorite recipes.
Scroll down so you can try these classics at home with your kids.