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The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C.…

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2008)

by Richard C. Morais

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
The book was lovely in writing and so descriptive that I could smell and taste the words, but it didn't stay with me like a true 4-look-book does.

The story of Hassan and his family is beautifully painted by Morais from their time in Bombay to their eventual settling in France. The haute cuisine is a character in and of itself, making this a truly amazing journey.

On Bombay:
From the shantytown rose the pungent smells of charcoal fires and rotting garbage, and the hazy air itself was thick with the roar of roosters and bleating goats and the slap-thud of washing beaten on cement slabs. Here, children and adults shat in the streets.

On Harrod's Food Hall in Paris:
The Food Hall smelled of roasting guinea fowl and sour pickles. Under a ceiling suitable for a mosque, we found a football pitch devoted entirely to food and engaged in a din of worldly commerce. Around us: Victorian nymphs in clamshells, ceramic boars, a purple-tiled peacock, An oyster bar stood beside handing slabs of plastic meat, while the grounds were covered in a seemingly endless line of marble-and-glass counters. One entire counter, I recall, was filled with nothing but bacon -- "Smoked Streaky," "Oyster-Back," and "Suffolk Sweet Cure."

This beauty continues throughout the book, as Hassan meets the antagonist-turned-benefactor of the story: Madame Gertrude Mallory. A truly unlikable character, Madame Mallory's range of emotion, thoughts, experiences, and (finally) completely winsome charm is as full-bodied as a fine red wine. She surrounds herself with a variety of characters with whom the reader becomes attached, including Hassan's first lady-love, Margaret.

The journey continues as Hassan becomes famous in his own right, surpassing even his famous teacher. The delight of bringing forth cuisine morphs into the struggles of being in business. Like his father before him, Hassan grows to learn that passion always has a price.

There are so many layers to this book, it is impossible to list them here. Highly recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this! The descriptions of the food were so good that I think I was hungry the whole time I was reading! If you enjoy food, you'll like this book -- but a good story as well. ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Hassan Hajji arrives by circuitous means from Mumbai via London to the French Alps town of Lumiere when his extended family's car breaks down. Patriarch Abbas Hajji decides this is as good a place as any to settle and open a restaurant dedicated to Indian food. Mme Mallory, chef of the haute cuisine Michelin two star restaurant directly across the street is none too happy with this boisterous crowd encroaching on a town she literally rules. One would imagine the book with its impending conflict is all but written at this point.

The author's descriptions -- particularly of location, food and cooking -- are stunning. Any reader, especially of the foodie kind, will be booking a reservation at their favorite eatery in response. Those who have seen the movie will note that some serious changes from the second half of the book. One suspects the producers wanted more romance and more Dame Helen Mirren. The movie tie sit all up in a nice little conclusion.

The book seeks to explore the demands on haute cuisine chefs, which our hero Hassan eventually becomes. This is a serious look at the powers of critics, the ever tightening profit margins, economics demanding more 'branding' and even a hint of the soon to come emphasis on local and 'simple' cooking. Maxims didn't go out of business for no reason. The business of fine dining is ever changing. Even in France, where many consider fine dining begins and ends.

This second half emphasis on the economics and politics of fine dining might be jarring for those more caught up in the relationships of the first half. Once Hassan moves to Paris, there is little mention of either his father or his mentor, Mme Mallory. There are great reads about restaurants and food industry (Michael Ruhlman, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Buford, and Garielle Hamilton immediately come to mind.) If you enjoy books like those, I suspect you will truly enjoy this book as well. If you come after having seen the movie, not so much.

In this homage to French cuisine, the greatest journey isn't from Mumbai to Lumiere, or even from a small town to the heights of Michelin stardom, but in Hassan's first few steps across the way to snatch at his dreams and destiny. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Jan 7, 2016 |
I listened to this book because it has been on my list for over a year. The book did entertain me while I was doing some paperwork the past two weekends. Because of the many French words, I was glad I had decided to listen instead of read this book. I have not seen the movie based on this book because I wanted to give the book a try first. I did enjoy the variety of characters. The story did not flow smoothly, there were many starts, jerks, and double-backs. I will say the book was okay the first time,but I don't want to read it again. ( )
  BrendaKlaassen | Oct 26, 2015 |
"The Hundred Foot Journey" is my most recent read. At first I was griped by the story, as the story progressed I found my interest waning. Although there is good character development, the story is slow to gain momentum after the first third of the book. I also found the ending anticlimactic. I didn't leave me wanting more. ( )
  bnolan02 | Sep 29, 2015 |
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I, Hassan Haji, was born, the second of six children, above my grandfather's restaurant on the Napean Sea Road in what was then called West Bombay, two decades before the great city was renamed Mumbai.
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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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