Thomas Jefferson has always been one of the more enigmatic founding fathers for me. I don't necessarily agree with his politics but the aspects of his life that interest me most are his interests in science, gardening, and food. As an outspoken advocate of states rights, he nonetheless engineered one of the greatest overreaches of Federal power with the Louisiana Purchase, and then sent Lewis & Clark exploring with instructions that included bringing back new and edible plants. As ambassador to France Jefferson seemed more interested in the food and wine that so generously accompanied Paris social life, even bringing along one of his slaves to take cooking lessons.
This is not an in-depth history of Jefferson's meals, and the slave James Hemmings plays a very minor role. Instead Craughwell fills in information about the foods that were popular in America and France at the time and explains how the French excesses (including food-related) influenced the French Revolution. And this sort of background history that is often glossed over in many history books is what makes this one interesting. Likewise, I enjoyed the short appendixes discussing the kinds of foods grown in Jefferson's gardens and his fascination with wine. And Jefferson did eventually grant James Hemmings' freedom, but it took six years and some complaining from James before it happened.
But foodies looking for details about Jefferson's dinner table or James Hemmings’ recipes may come away with more historical background than actual information. I suspect the kind of mundane stuff like what was for dinner simply wasn't thought important enough to be recorded and become part of the historical record (this was in the days before sharing such information on Facebook became fashionable). There are a number of pictures of letters and documents - some in Jefferson's hand - showing his notes and some of the recipes, but they're difficult to read. Still, the book was kinda fun and short, but for a more detailed look at his gardens I recommend Andrea Wulf's Founding Gardeners. (I received this book from Amazon Vine.)