Teresa's Reviews > The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
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Aug 11, 2010

really liked it

It has been a while since my taste buds have been tempted by a good foodie story but the starvation diet is officially over with the consumption of this delicious read.

Hassan Haji, the second of a a family of six from Mumbai, knows from an early age that his destiny lies in the realm of food. In this simultaneously comic and poignant tale, we trace Hasssan's culinary development from the tiffin business established by his grandparents, their roadside restaurant for servicemen to the present day prestige of the world of haute cuisine and much sought after Michelin stars.

After a winding trek across Europe in a caravan of 3 old Mercedes cars, the Hajis eventually settle in the isolated French village of Lumiere. It's a case of Bollywood versus Cordon Bleu as Hassan's father competes with Madame Mallory, an acclaimed French chef whose refined restaurant is situated opposite their ever so slightly more lurid establishment.

This is a delightful tale peopled with a medley of vivid characters, from Hassan's larger than life, outspoken father who contrasts sharply with the polished, elegant Madame Mallory, defender of classic haute cuisine. You can hear, smell and taste the ambiance of the Indian and French kitchens - it's probably advisable to eat before reading! It's fascinating to read about French cuisine's own internal rival factions -

"Chef Verdun was a master of that lard-heavy school of French cuisine that was just starting, at that time, to fall from favour, overtaken by the molecular cooking established by the fast-rising Chef Matiffe down in Aix-en-Provence."

As Hassan scales the echelons of French Haute Cuisine, battling the inherent racism and snobbery en route, he also has to figure out a way to steer his enterprise through the impending recession and tax hikes which are decimating so many successful French restaurants. Thus, the author manages to creates a story which draws on both olde worlde charm and the harsh reality of modern economics. I would be surprised if we didn't soon see this story being adapted for the movie screen (perhaps with "odorama"??) - highly recommended for all foodies who enjoy good storytelling and multi-cultural settings.
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