Now I understand why black people take pride in perfecting the perfect cheesy, slice and stand, Macaroni & Cheese! I only know a handful that get it right consistently 😀 And I’m not one of them!
Now, as you can imagine, macaroni noodles & cheese combo originated in 13th century Italy – no surprise there. But it was James Hemings, the enslaved Chef of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, that mastered this culinary comfort dish.
James was born in Virginia in 1765. At 8 years old, his entire family was enslaved by Thomas Jefferson through an inheritance, which moved them to Monticello. *Remember Sally Hemings, Jefferson’s alledged black lover and mother of their sons (2)? Well, James is her older brother.
Amateur historians have often credited Thomas Jefferson with introducing macaroni & cheese to the United States; he certainly did and loved it, especially the way James prepared it.
James Hemings learned French cooking techniques while in Europe with Jefferson before he was president, and when they returned to the states, Hemming put his own spin on macaroni and cheese.
Peter Hemings, brother of James, personal aid and eventual new Chef for
Thomas Jefferson, accompanied Jefferson to the White House, where he announced the dish as “macaroni pie” at several state dinners. This introduced Mac & Cheese to America’s elite and other world leaders.
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*Sarah “Sally” Hemings was a biracial enslaved woman who was owned by President Thomas Jefferson. Multiple lines of evidence, including modern DNA analyses, indicate that Hemings and Jefferson had a sexual relationship for years, and historians now broadly agree that he was the father of her six children. Wikipedia