Today we'd call Thomas Jefferson a "foodie" - a true lover of food who seeks out the best. If he were transported to the twenty-first century, he would be both delighted at the availability of fine foods in our markets and appalled at the poor food choices many of us make daily. Perhaps his "pursuit of happiness" was through food since he enjoyed to growing it, writing about it, and no doubt eating it. His culinary habits served him well as he lived a healthy life to the age of 83.
French-Virginian? Or Virginian-French?
When Thomas Jefferson served as American minister to France, his tastebuds took a liking to the offered cuisine. He developed a taste for the fine food and wine and brought what he could back to Virginia, including a French chef. Jefferson introduced vanilla to America and began to import wines, cheeses, oils, and much more. He even brought seeds and plants for the fruits and vegetables he enjoyed in France. Other European countries influenced his tastes, too. His introduction to waffles in Holland resulted in the purchase of a waffle iron to bright back to Monticello.
The "receipts" or recipes of Monticello were a mixture of Virginian dishes and French. They were writted by chefs of the house, Jefferson himself, and members of the Jefferson household. Most of the recipes that we have came from the records of Mary Randolph, Jefferson's cousin. Her recipes and others have been compiled in a cookbook, "Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book" by Marie Kimball.
Thomas Jefferson was fond of ice cream. He even penned a recipe for vanilla ice cream. View his recipe here. This recipe for Peach Cream is based on one found in Marie Kimball's book, as mentioned above.
6 ripe peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cream
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1. Peel peaches. To easily remove skins, bring 5 inches of water to a boil in a stock pot. Put peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and put into an ice water bath. The skins should practically slip off.
2. Slice peaches in half and remove pits. Cut into small chunks and place in a medium bowl.
3. Sprinkle sugar over peaches. Stir and let mixture sit for about 15 minutes to "juice".
4. Use a fork, potato masher, hand blender, or food processor to turn peaches into smooth pulp.
5. Stir in cream, salt, and almond extract. Chill and freeze according to ice cream maker's instructions.