Thursday, June 26, 2014
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (RICHARD C. MORAIS)
Scribner|August 9, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4391-6565-2
"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 Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.
The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restuarant 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 restuarant, and 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.
I don't have much to add to the Chapters synopsis of the book above other than to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I think Madame Mallory had a lot more to do with Hassan's success than everyone suspects, she was a very well-known and well respected chef in her time. I'll admit that I had no idea what half the dishes described in the pages of this book were but some of them sure sounded good and ones I'd certainly give a try. That is, if someone else cooked them for me! This is a book that would appeal to a large audience of folks and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.