The Hundred-Foot Journey
By Richard C Morais
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781439165645, 256pp.)
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
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"That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist."
And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life’s journey in Richard Morais’s charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste.
Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps.
The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais—that of the famous chef Madame Mallory—and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages—charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.
Richard C. Morais was a senior editor at Forbes and the magazine’s longest serving foreign correspondent. An American raised in Switzerland, Morais has lived most of his life overseas, returning to the United States in 2003. His debut novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey was published in 2010.
“Serious foodies will swoon. Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event.”
--Washington Post Book Review
“The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”
--New York Times Book Review