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The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C.…

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2008)

by Richard C. Morais

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I am almost speechless at how much I enjoyed this book. The Hundred-Foot Journey
is a beautiful, thoughtfully written story about one man’s trek from unwelcome immigrant to renowned chef in Paris. Hassam Haji starts life living above his grandfather's restaurant in Mumbai. When they family leaves india and settles in France it becomes Hassam's dream to be a chef in a French restaurant. His decision to abandon his native cuisine impacts all his family relationships but his efforts to be accepted by the French culinary culture are the meat of the story.

I was captivated not only by the story itself but by author Richard Morais' evocative descriptions of food. Like a great chef who skillfully brings together all the components of a perfect meal Morais weaves sentences that make your mouth water and leave you wanting more.

I could go on with my comparisons of writing and cooking but I’ll boil it down by saying read this book! It is a lovely ode to the magic of food that will fill you up until the last page, when you’ll smile and push back from the table feeling wonderfully, happily satisfied (I couldn’t resist). ( )
  cathgilmore | Jan 24, 2014 |
I would never have even heard of this book had it not been for Buzzfeed's 16 books to read before they hit the theaters in 2014. Apparently this is going to be a movie starring Helen Mirren and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

This is a great book if you're a foodie. This book is a homage to French classical cuisine and Indian and Pakistani food. As far as stories go there isn't a whole lot of plot. Young Hassan tells his journey of food in four stages: as a child in Mumbai, a teen in London, a student in Lumiere, and a master in Paris. In terms of food, the story is gorgeous and descriptive and made me horribly hungry. I wanted to sample all of the concoctions that Hassan describes!

As I mentioned there isn't much of a plot, food is central to the story and it moves forward as Hassan masters more in the kitchen. The characters however, are quite intriguing and I really enjoyed Madame Mallory, the two star chef that is appalled by the new Indian restaurant in town but still begrudgingly takes on the Indian boy, Hassan anyways, because she realizes that one day his talent will surpass hers in the kitchen.

An alright read. I'd really only recommend it to foodies though. ( )
  ecataldi | Jan 14, 2014 |
I didn’t care for this book very much. Both the main character and author seem to think very highly of themselves which I couldn’t appreciate. The main character is an Indian immigrant who trains as an elite French chef, and the story is told from his point of view. He contradicts himself throughout the telling of his story and doesn’t present the women in his life, except for his mother and the chef who teaches him, in a very good light.

The author is not Indian, French, or a chef. I thought one of the suggested rules of writing is to write what you know? Maybe I’m being too harsh. My big complaint is that he confesses to developing the idea for this book in the hopes of making it a movie. If you want to make a movie, then please don’t bother with a novel.

Of course, there is more to this novel than I’m presenting. There are some funny moments, and I was curious to see how Hassan rises above an early family tragedy. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get past his arrogance and inconsistencies or the attempts of the author to write something in which he knows little in the hopes of making a movie. Sadly, IMDb.com tells me that the movie is in production with Helen Mirren in a starring role and Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey as executive producers. I guess it worked for Morais! ( )
  BBleil | Aug 3, 2013 |
Interesting. An Indian becomes a French chef and becomes acquainted with the greats of the culinary world all through the efforts of Madame Mallory, a great chef, who takes him under her wing. ( )
  MarkMeg | Jul 17, 2013 |
My book club loves both food and books so I picked this book thinking it would be a nice change. The story is about Hassan, a young boy whose world revolved around food. I loved his loud, boisterous family. The characters are all wonderfully portrayed with some laugh out loud funny antics. I loved reading about their travels from Mumbai to London to Lumiere to Paris. We all felt this was a nice easy read. Food is the language of this book. You can hear, smell and taste the ambiance of the Indian and French kitchens . I always enjoy an inspiring story about reaching for one's dreams. I thought it was interesting to see inside the world of gourmet restaurants and seeing behind the scenes. ( )
  amachiski | Jun 20, 2012 |
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I, Hassan Haji, was born, the second of six children, above my grandfather's restaurant on the Napan Sea Road in what was then called West Bombay, two decades before the great city was renamed Mumbai.
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Book description
Abbas Haji is the proud owner of a modest family restaurant in Mumbai. But when tragedy strikes, Abbas propels his boisterous family into a picaresque journey across Europe, finally settling in the remote French village of Lumiere, where he establishes an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai.Much to the horror of their neighbour, a famous chef named Madame Mallory, the Indian establishment opposite her own begins to garner a following. Little does she know that the young Hassan, son of Abbas, has discovered French cuisine and has vowed to become a great French chef. Hassan is a natural whose talents far outweigh Mme. Mallory, but the tough old Frenchwoman will not brook defeat.Thus ensues an entertaining culinary war pitting Hassan's Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Mme. Mallory, leading the young Hassan to greatness and his true destiny.
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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 this novel. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, it 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 Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere 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. This story 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. It is a fable that is a testament to the inevitability of destiny.… (more)

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