Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Thomas Jefferson and French fries

Thomas Jefferson—possibly the first American foodie—is generally credited with introducing the French fry to America. Thomas Jefferson loved the foods of his native Virginia. He also travels to Europe and his service as minister to France opened his eyes to a new culinary world.

In 1785, Jefferson was appointed the United States Minister to France. Sailing with Jefferson was his daughter, and a nineteen-year-old enslaved house servant named James Hemings, whom Jefferson referred to in his early records and correspondence as “Jame.” Jefferson’s intent to have James master the French “art of cookery” and then bring French recipes and cooking styles back to Monticello when Jefferson’s foreign assignment was up. Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson,

During his stay in France, he had collected about 150 recipes. Among these are such current all-American favorites as vanilla ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and fried potatoes, which Jefferson originally knew as pommes de terre frites à cru en petites tranches (potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings).

Thomas Jefferson was served French fries in Monticello in the early 1800s, but it was not until the early twentieth century, when American soldiers back from serving in Europe in World War I demanded them, that the fried potato became popular in the United States.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson, at that time he was the third President of the United States, famously served fries at a White House dinner. Jefferson requested potatoes to be fried “in the French manner”.

French fries do not seem to have caught on with the general public until the 1870s and only became truly popular in the 1900s.
Thomas Jefferson and French fries