Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Rate this book
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Juliet Blake, DreamWorks Studios, and Participant Media.

"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.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Richard C. Morais

9 books188 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,617 (16%)
4 stars
10,605 (37%)
3 stars
9,500 (33%)
2 stars
2,705 (9%)
1 star
580 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,946 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan.
84 reviews11 followers
March 4, 2014
I wanted to love this book. After all, food and stories are two of my favorite things. Yet it seemed written by an amateur's hand. It's difficult to explain, but while the descriptions of Indian cuisine in the first few chapters were impressive, the Indian essence lacked authenticity. That is, it was somehow clear that the story was written by someone non-Indian. Perhaps this was because of the overdone broken English. Perhaps there were not enough cultural references. Halfway through the story, with the focus on Paris and French cuisine, you forget that the main character is even Indian. I also didn't like that the author skipped through large chunks of time. What obstacles did Hassan face while working at each restaurant, and how did he overcome them? Simply put, the plot lacked action. Who would have thought that a book about an Indian chef cooking French food would lack flavor?
Profile Image for Maria.
290 reviews
August 1, 2021
I giggled when I read a review that called this book a cross between "Ratatouille and Slumdog Millionaire", but after finishing this excellent summer read I must agree that's pretty spot on! This book is such a joy to read. It's one of those books where you keep flipping back to the author's bio because you can't imagine how someone wrote this book from their imagination. The scenes were so rich and full of life I wanted it to be a memoir, not a work of fiction!

The larger than life characters surrounding Hassan Haji - Indian street cook turned famous Parisian chef - are so well written. You will fall in love with his brash father and lively mentor - especially during their years of warring. The scenes describing cuisine and cooking were so vibrant it compelled me to try for the first time making curries of my own - I'm telling you, this book gets under your skin!

The imagery of this whole book was so rich I am sure I will re-read it again at some point. My only wish was that it was longer! I highly recommend this book to foodies of all types and anyone who loves a vibrant read.
1 review1 follower
March 6, 2013
Working on a book committee for our Library, I was encouraged to read this for our program this year. The colorful programming possibilities covering four cultures, a variety of foods, music and tastes was intriguing. Unfortunately the book falls short on several points and we probably will not be using it.

This is a very easy read, with good character development, easy to follow story and simple relationships. The author uses excellent descriptive language to draw you into the story, and it's not hard to place yourself in the various colorful locales he uses in the story.

Without completely giving the ending away, I will say that while Hassan has his ups and downs during his coming of age period and while establishing his career, it finishes on a very high note. For those who like happy endings, this is a very good thing.

Now for the not so good... The author attempts to use an Indian/Arabic accent for the characters which seems contrived and forced. It doesn't sound accurate and in fact makes the characters a little less believable. He starts out with the narrator and main character in the book (Hassan Haji) describing intricate details about his grandfather in the food business in the 1950's including his cooking, ingredients, every smell, color, etc... And yet Hassan is born in 1975 and he is speaking in the first person. Ooops...

Next, Hassan's mother suffers a terrible tragedy and yet the author only spends about 1-1/2 pages covering that and moves on. For a child, this realistically should've been covered more thoroughly.

Then as Hassan moves past the age of 18, we see certain milestones in his life go by. His internship under Madame Mallory, his first serious relationship with Margaret, his acceptance as a chef at a prominent restaurant in Paris, the establishment of his own restaurant and reputation. Through this all I keep remembering that he was supposedly born in 1975 and the original copyright for this book was 2008 & 2010. By the end of the story he is 42 years old, which would make the year 2017.

The author mentions one recession around 2008, which would be historically correct, but then mentions another one around the time when Hassan is forty, which would be 2015. He also mentions a French war briefly, but adds no details. Is this a future war involving France?

He mentions Hassan's hands shaking briefly at the end of one chapter but then goes nowhere with that and it becomes a dead end in the story.

Finally the story makes numerous and detailed mention of the selection, hunting, slaughtering, preparation and consumption of numerous animals in almost every chapter. The use of blood for sauces, slit throats, automatic chicken processing, hunting juvenile boar, etc... While I'm not a vegetarian by any means, I can see how this book will clearly NOT appeal to any vegans out there.

So in summary, while the basic story is good, it has several problems which perhaps should've been worked out before publication. The contrived accents are unnecessary, the numerous and highly detailed references to slaughtering animals, the dismissal of his mother's death and the timeline problems all make the story less believable.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,178 reviews532 followers
May 26, 2015

The initial feeling, when starting out the book, was a lyrical ode to good writing and good food. All the elements were there. Imagine, being born with your first sensation of life being the smell of machli ka salan, a spicy fish curry, made in a homely restaurant in Mumbai, on the Napean Sea Road, to be exact - Hassan Haji's grandfather's humble food emporium. Not that it was one of the star-rated establishment of Mombai. His homeless grandfather started out as a street vendor and excelled to his own restaurant where the family served food downstairs and lived up above. It was more a transitional zone between the desperately poor and the upper echelons of Indian society. But Hassan's nose for good food was born the minute he inhaled his first breath in this world. The magic was born right there and then.

Due to political unrest, his family decided to leave India and head out for Britain and France. It is here where Hassan's life would change to become one of the top chefs in the country. It would take many years to reach his ambition.

The first half of the book was pure joy. Fun, family and food feast. Warring neighbors added spice, a lot of it, to the settling of the Haji's family in the small town in the mountains. There was love and laughter on the menu of life in this quaint village, called Lumière, in the Alpine region of France.

The second half of the book became a memoir in fictional form of the politics and challenges of the French food industry. From the slaughtering of all available animals, to the mechanisms in the market, to the pretentious Maitre Ds adorning the entrances to restaurants - a blend of barbarous operations to the snobbery and superficiality of modern French cuisine. The initial characters boiled away, evaporating into the ether of obscurity. They were dropped like dull-eyed fish on the farmer's market of Lumière.

Madame Mallory warned Hassan: " Never forget a snob is a person utterly lacking in good taste. Good taste is not the birthright of snobs, but a gift from God sometimes found in the most unlikely of places and in the unlikeliest of people.”
"Madame Mallory had spent the first part of the morning tour making me smell and taste various cabbages—the savoy, chubby little cancan dancers luridly fanning their ruffled green petticoats so we could get a sneak peek at their delicately pale and parting leaves inside, and the giant red cabbage, deep in color, like a bon vivant soused in a ruby red port wine before showing up merrily on the stall’s counter. “The thing you need to understand, Hassan, is that kohlrabi is the bridge between the cabbage and the turnip, and it melds the flavors of both vegetables. Remember that. It’s a subtle but important distinction that will help you decide when one vegetable is an ideal side dish, but not the other.”
The prose in the first half of the book was simply scrumptious. Sadly, soon after, Paris would happen to Hassan. Where loneliness, hard work and prestige became his menu de jour, and the warmth of the mountain community became a forgotten after taste.

The Parisian hoi polloi of culinary couture took something fundamental and changed it into a festival of fake food fur.
Hassan: "It was logical, with my heritage, that I would be drawn to Chef Mafitte’s “world cuisine,” which seemed to revel in combining the most bizarre ingredients from the most exotic corners of the earth, but if I leaned in any direction, it was toward Paul’s French classicism. Charles Mafitte’s “laboratory” creations were highly original, creative, and even at times breathtaking, but I could not help coming to the conclusion his culinary contrivances were, in the end, a triumph of style over substance. And yet it was undeniably his “chemical” cooking that had struck a chord with the critics and public alike these last several years, and, like it or not, Paul’s classically ornate fare was passé and seemed, in comparison, hopelessly outdated. But Paul was all honest blood and bones and meaty substance, and I, for one, was going to miss him deeply."
In a full-circle moment, after climbing the ladder of success to the very top, Hassan finally realized that 'pheasant food' - like his grandmother taught him to make, like the ordinary people of France prepare in their kitchens, was the language of love, family, real friends. The real language of real food.
A sense of loss and longing, for Mummy and India. For lovable, noisy Papa. For Madame Mallory, my teacher, and for the family I never had, sacrificed on the altar of my ambition. For my late friend Paul Verdun. For my beloved grandmother, Ammi, and her delicious pearlspot, all of which I missed, on this day, of all days."
It was his good friend, Paul, who tried to tell him something, while they were both bowing to the accolades of fame:
“Never, in all the three-star restaurants of France, will you taste anything finer,” he said. “We toil and toil, until we are exhausted, and nothing we do, if we are honest, will ever be as good as this, a simple bowl of tripe."
The movie, produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah, centered around the first half of the book with its strong story of family, love and hilarious cultural complexities. The ending was rewritten completely. It was by far the best version of the story. They zoned in on what should have been the main focus of the book.

A highly internationally acclaimed chef once, many years ago, told me that the best food on earth are made by the mothers of this world. I googled him this morning. After cooking for the presidents of the world, and acting as executive chef for international five-star hotel chains, winning numerous prestigious international awards, he has gone back to his roots, opening up his own café and bakery in Georgia, serving his mother's recipes to a raving crowd.

This is basically the message in this book as well. The ending did not reflect it and it should have. There wasn't a real ending. The story just stopped. Period. No closure of anything. A quick, hasty mention of family who did not feature strongly in the beginning half the book, created more confusion than anything else.

In retrospect it is clear that the book should actually not be compared to the movie at all, since the endings are so vastly different and the heart of both stories are totally the opposite of each other. The second half of the book is about food and a lackluster cast of characters thrown in as back drop. The movie, on the other hand, was about love and family, with the magic of food as a strong focus binding them all together.

The book focus on a young talented chef who, while still mastering the art of traditional cooking, was invited to learn the more sophisticated art of a new culture and culinary world. He was taken from one world to another. All it took was a hundred-foot journey across a street.

From a warm, loving, supportive richly flavored environment, he stepped into the world of a cold calculating, competitive, snobbish and pretentious world of circus clowns who high-jacked a truck full of vegetables and did not quite know how to hide the vegetables' earthly origins. The magic was gone.
Hassan: "And so, next day, Auntie and Mehtab helped me pack my bag and I crossed the street. A lot of emotion went into that hundred-foot journey, cardboard suitcase in hand, from one side of Lumière’s boulevard to the other. Before me the sugar-dusted willow tree, the leaded windows and the lace curtains, the elegant inn where even the warped wooden steps were soaked in great French traditions. And there, standing on Le Saule Pleureur’s stone steps, in white aprons, the taciturn Madame Mallory and kind Monsieur Leblanc, an elderly couple waiting with outstretched hands for their newly adopted son."

"It was such a small journey, in feet, but it felt as if I were striding from one end of the universe to the other, the light of the Alps illuminating my way."
Nevertheless, it is still a good read, very informative, although the souffle fell flat, when the novel ended and a memoir began, and when the oven door closed on Hassan's life in Lumière .

May you, when times are hard, always find a moment for a restorative meal in the company of true friends and a loving family. - Richard C. Morais
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
September 16, 2021
Lovely novel written by the novelist and journalist Richard C. Morais
delicious read concerning food and spices
a novel about passion and persistence which lead us to what we really love and appreciate in life
Hassan the indian narrator and his family from Mumbai to Paris ,and the hundred foot Journey that he had to take between the Indian kitchen and a traditional French one, to become a well known chef with distinctive talant
a journey between different cultures, traditions and cooking
Profile Image for Darcy.
359 reviews9 followers
July 18, 2014
I enjoyed the first part of this story. Morais deftly captured the colorful and spicy flavor that is India. There were some lovely descriptions of Italy and the alpine region in France, where the Haji family finally settles, but like a poorly prepared soufflé, the whole thing collapsed halfway through.

A book about food, especially French food, should make your mouth water. As I began reading I remembered my experience with Chocolat, and I expected culinary magic. Instead, I mostly encountered culinary carnage - this book was like a manual for how to kill and eat anything in the animal kingdom. It was like touring a slaughterhouse. The carnage that begins with the pig butchering, which I suppose was symbolic of Hassan’s lifelong obsession with French food, is almost disgustingly detailed. You probably wouldn’t eat a hamburger while watching a cow get butchered, so I can’t understand why Morais went to the trouble to include so many grisly details. This book was like The Jungle, slathered in Garam Masala and sprinkled with Herbes de Provence.

More disappointing than the food, was the character of Hassan, who though he may be gifted in the kitchen, turns out to have no depth as a character. Where does his special gift come from? From what inner source does he pull this one in a million ability? I have no idea. Betty Crocker has more pizazz. Part of the problem is that Morais discarded Madame Mallory and Hassan’s Papa halfway through the narrative. In order for Hassan to be interesting, we needed these two other characters, which were so overdone at times that they seemed almost caricatures, to balance Hassan out. Without Madame Mallory and Papa, Hassan is about as flat and interesting as a two-day-old piece of naan.

Overall, this novel disappointed me. I actually think it will make a much better movie, which is apparently what the author wanted all along (see Acknowledgements).
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews51 followers
October 1, 2014
This book was such a delight to read, or rather listen to! If you're looking for a feel good book that makes you laugh and your tummy rumble, then this might be the book for you. I am by no means a gourmand, but I love reading about food adventures, and especially about how food unites peoples and cultures.

The strange events that lead Hassan Haji from his family owned restaurant on the Mumbai coast to the French Alps is the backdrop of this quaint novel. Tutored at a young age in the art of cooking by his grandmother, Hassan inherits an artist's eye for flavoring and exotic food combinations. While magical realism plays a key role in foodie fiction favorites like Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, the plausible storyline of this novel made it more of an original little treat. Moreover, the marriage of two completely different cultures put me in mind of how well done The Elegance of the Hedgehog was, and also why the French are so stinking cool! I cannot wait to watch this film. I am a die hard Helen Mirren fan!

Profile Image for Jeffrey Caston.
Author 8 books154 followers
April 1, 2023
An entertaining enough story that takes us through the youth, adulthood, and success of cooking prodigy Hassan who finds himself a master chef in a country of fabulous Chefs. The story clips along and has plenty of sensory images and food-related stuff to dazzle any food or cooking lover.

That being said, he got one thing quite wrong in my humble opinion. English sandwiches are amazing. Not the bland and mushy, sir, thank you very much. My experience was that even the prepackaged ones were inventive and amazing. But that's a small issue (and probably a fictional narrative issue anyway, so no biggie.)

The audio production was also quite nice.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,738 reviews475 followers
August 11, 2014
3.5-4 stars
The mouths of foodies will be watering as they read this novel about the fictional Hassan Haji's life. After his family's restaurant was destroyed in Mumbai, his father took the family to Europe to distance himself from the tragedy. A few years later, their car breaks down in the French village of Lumiere, a beautiful setting near the Alps, and they decide to stay.

Hassan's bearlike, boisterous father opens a casual Indian restaurant across the street from the award-winning Le Saule Pleureur, owned by Madame Mallory. The two colorful restaurant owners wage war until an accident lands Hassan in the hospital. Madame Mallory regrets her attitude, and takes Hassan on as an apprentice in her elegant French restaurant. Hassan crosses the road in a "hundred-foot journey" from Indian to fine French cuisine. This is the beginning of an exciting career for Hassan who was born with an exceptional culinary gift.

The story was infused with the smells and sights of both the Indian and French kitchens. Temperamental chefs are a source of humor in the story. Food critics and the Michelin star system add immense pressure to the job of a chef. Although I would love to fly to Paris for a restaurant tour, I think I will have to settle for seeing the movie based on this charming book. The movie, starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri, and Manish Dayal, will be opening in August 2014.
10 reviews4 followers
August 20, 2014
(WARNING: SPOILERS) I blame Helen Mirren. Her participation in the film (haven't seen it) made me think this would be something I'd want to read. I wasn't a huge fan of this book. After the main character goes to Paris, I found myself thinking, why am I still here? I had no idea what sort of character arc/conclusion/goal we were still reaching for, as I think the author set a few up (the can't commit to a girl thing) and then failed to deliver in a satisfying way (his romantic development being abandoned with the move to Paris). While Margaret's appearance near the book's end suggests they might pick things back up, their involvement is an afterthought. The third star comes about as a half-assed surprise, but felt more like a success for ol Gertie than it did for Hassan.
I felt way too much importance was placed on the death of Paul, a character we hardly know, while so little was placed on Hassan's father's death. I like talking/reading about food probably more than the average person, but it felt like more attention was paid to nailing the food aspect than character/story development. Ironically, all the fancy pants food references, to me, came off as snobby, which is something (we learn at the end) Gertie was trying to steer him away from by keeping an open mind. I liked the rivalry early on, the lively characters of his family, the psuedo-romance, the Madame's transformation, but just about everything after the move to Paris was boring as hell.
Profile Image for Sara.
564 reviews177 followers
August 14, 2014
What a disappointment! The book seemed like it would have so much promise. So much life and vigor and interest! Not the case. The book starts off in India and is depressing and sad. I can understand and respect that. What I did not care for was the graphic comparison of squid to a penis, the image of a girl defecating on the road side and "fingering" her excrement, etc.

When the family moves to London, the crass tone of the novel gets worse with intimate descriptions of foreplay and arousal and lewd behavior as well as heavy drug use. A demented family member who should be respected in her old age is "managed" as she behaves inappropriately and then soils herself.

I was hoping that the book would improve when they moved to France. And it does. But it does not abandon the foul descriptions and language.

This may be a book about food and blending of cultures but it is modern, crass, depressing and poorly written. The shock value wears thin and demonstrates that the author really does not know how to write.

I typically avoid recommendations from Oprah and should have kept to my rule.

I stopped just before half way through and could care less if the second half is the most brilliant story ever because the first half is a waste of paper.
Profile Image for Kiran Afzal.
5 reviews13 followers
March 29, 2014
I had heard a lot about this book, and considering its about food and focuses on an Indian boy's journey into French cuisine, I thought it would be interesting.
Unfortunately, I couldn't relate to it at all. The initial few chapters started off nicely, but after that the author just jumped from one point to another abruptly. Even though the title character was Indian belonging to a Muslim family, there was nothing that I felt I could relate - neither in terms of culture or food or traditions.
Had this been a book on French cuisine, I probably might have different expectations but right now I am just trying to understand the point of the novel.
At the same time, I do think that the movie adaption of this novel has potential. Julia & Julia is one of my favourite movies, and I couldn't even finish 50% of the novel it was based on.
Profile Image for Robyn.
112 reviews23 followers
August 4, 2014
This novel is a prime example of a "Kevin White's Description of How A Five-Year-Old Writes" story.

This thing happened.
And then this next thing happened.
And then, and then! A thing happened.
Another thing happened.
Things things things.

I had to constantly remind myself that this was a work of fiction and not an autobiography written by someone who doesn't know how to write. A lot of tedious descriptions and little character development. I bet the movie will actually be better than the novel.
May 27, 2014
This book fell way short of my expectations. It started out a nice character story (though it did not grasp Indian life as I'd hoped), and it ended up a documentary of the Paris food community. The character of Mme Mallory seemed to be well thought through at the start, and then just dumped. Same with the father and the whole Indian family. This book could have been any number of great things but somehow chose not to be anything great at all when it was done. Major disappointment.
Profile Image for Mike.
502 reviews378 followers
December 17, 2020
This was a poorly constructed and executed book. The author did not spend enough time developing characters, the story was patchwork, spread out over several decades of the protagonist's life, and the story lacked any emotional punch. Apart from (I assume) accurately describing haute French cuisine, there is very little to recommend this book.

It didn't start out this way though. I thought the opening chapters in India were pretty good, elaborating on the protagonist's family history and the traumatic event that sent his family into exile. But once outside of India the faults in this book quickly became apparent. While centering on the protagonist, there were a bevy of secondary characters that also occupy the story which rarely got much in the way of development. Too frequently their traits and attributes were described by the narrator instead of being shown these traits organically in the story. By the end of the book, when the time between chapters could be numbered in years, most of the secondary characters were little more than a sentence of two of description by the narrator. It did not make for an immersive character experience.

Building on that point, the story was just too much of a patchwork, with chapters being separated by significant chunks of time and the narrative within these chapters failing to form a cohesive story. We got chapters on a waiter who abused the French labor laws, a protest of restaurateurs against government tax policy, the reintroduction of a past lover of the narrator who fled an abusive husband and was looking to restart her life with her children in Paris that the narrator helps (it is shockingly less emotionally resonant than that description would suggest), and other sort of slice of life events that didn't really mesh together. Because of this there was no cohesive theme or emotional thread to bind the story together.

The eponymous 'hundred foot journey' takes up a surprisingly small amount of the story and feels a bit odd in relation to the rest of the story. The narrator learns all about French cuisine from an established and well respected chef because she sees something in his native Indian cooking (which he completely abandons once he gets into French cuisine) and discovers he has the taste equivalent of perfect pitch. This 'perfect pitch' talent is never mentioned again or even suggested that it was the reason for some of his success. But for all of the interesting stories that could have sprung from his situation (which I hope the movie does a better job with) we spend a bare few chapters in that situation before the narrator takes up a job in Paris. The final scene of the book has the narrator overcome with emotion even though there was no indication throughout the story he had invested much emotional energy in achieving that goal. It felt weirdly out of place and not foreshadowed at all.

Taken together the book came off more as a summary of a much better, more nuanced, and longer book that I might enjoy reading. This is one of those cases where I hope the movie butchers this book (in a traditional French manner of course).
Profile Image for Nataliya Yaneva.
165 reviews330 followers
March 18, 2018
Относително безсмислена история за това как един беден млад индиец с фантасмагорични кулинарни свръхспособности се превърна по невъзможен начин в доста богат млад индиец, който можа да напусне Майка Индия и да се отдаде на гурме вакханалия в световната столица на чревоугодниците. При наличие на пари и суперсили, кому е нужно нещо друго, за да преуспее? Така де, вижте Батман например. Иначе като цяло разказът върви леко и има доста описания на храна, макар някои да са малко помпозни. Но все пак за Париж става въпрос, простимо е, дори наложително. Пътешествие из света на храната тъкмо за две звезди, но не на „Мишлен“.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,518 reviews619 followers
February 19, 2019
Rereading this gem is a joy. It is a story of hard work and great talent coming together in unexpected ways. A reminder that we can all use our gifts to help each other and also of the joys of a good meal and fellowship. A favorite quote sums it up: "It was such a small journey, in feet, but it felt as if I were striding from one end of the universe to the other, the light of the Alps illuminating my way." Pick this book up and prepare for some laughter and some tears.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,301 reviews450 followers
August 22, 2014
This book was an absolute feast, no pun intended. Yes, I'm a foodie, and yes, I love wonderful books with great characters and story line. Put those two things together with charming dialogue, warmth, humor, lives well lived and lessons well learned, and you have this book. I added a star to this review simply because it was such a joy to read, from start to finish.
Profile Image for Rebecca L.
Author 2 books84 followers
February 15, 2016
The movie was better. I never really thought I'd say that, I used to be one of the firm and radical believers that the 'book is always better'. Only recently as I've started reading more books of movies I've seen or found out how most movies are based off books have I changed my mind on this subject and in the case of 'The Hundred Foot Journey' the movie was most definitely better.

What startled me the most about the book was how different the story was from the movie. While the movie was funny and uplifting and had a cheerful ending the book had a 'gray' feeling hanging over it and although funny in parts it was far from as uplifting and cheerful as the movie and made the characters that I liked in the movie much more unlikeable. Much more disgusting and dark in some cases.
It was very well written and the descriptions of food and the surroundings were very vivid and detailed but the lack of morality in the characters and the general 'dark' feeling just left me not liking it as much as I enjoyed the movie.

Also where the movie was a more family oriented film rated PG the book had I would say more of a PG-13 rating and I was greatly disappointed by Hassan's sinful character and his affairs with women from a very young age.

Overall a interesting read but as I said: the movie was better.
Profile Image for Julia.
14 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2015
I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn't pull it off. For the first third, I was hooked but somewhere around the middle I just stopped caring about the characters - fatal!

There are some wonderful descriptive passages early in the story as the reader is introduced to chaotic Mumbai and its residents, the drab way-station of London and the calm respite of the French Jura. I built a clear picture in my mind of the narrator's father and of Madame Mallory, the quintessential French chef and the surrounds that best represent them - their respective restaurants, homes and staff/family.

The narrator and intended main character (Hassan) remains underdeveloped and that is where this book doesn't succeed for me. I have no sense of what he sounds or looks like, his narrative voice is almost monotone and I still don't know what motivates him.

Strangely, I have a feeling that Helen Mirren will make this story a much better movie than it was a book - and we all know that readers rarely say that.
168 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2010
The Hundred-Foot Journey is the story of Hassan Haji, a young Indian boy who grows up above his grandfather's restaurant in Mumbai. A tragic incident prompts his family to flee to France were Hassan shows an unexpected talent and taste for haute cuisine. The novel follows his ensuing career as a chef and the fate of his family in France.

The first part of the book centers on Hassan's family, his history and the importance of food in his life. The writing is lush, very descriptive of the tastes, smells, and sights. The characters are interesting and the plot is fast-paced. However, after Hassan becomes a chef the thread of the story changes. The second half of the book is mostly about the politics of the restaurant world in France. The star system of ranking, the changes in haute cuisine, and the hierarchy among chefs. I didn't like this part nearly as well and I felt like Hassan's progress was stagnant. He seems to stop developing much as a person after a certain point.

Still, a pleasant, easy read and not bad at all for a first novel. I'll be interested to see what Richard Morais writes next.
Profile Image for Razvan Banciu.
1,091 reviews64 followers
July 20, 2023
One of the most overrated books I've seen, as, excepting some food tips, you have little valuable to get from. The two first parts, Mumbai and London, seem to be the opera of a modern angry Dostoievski: poverty, fire, urine, death. The Lumiere chapter should be brighter and full of gratitude and the final one, Paris, shows in its fulness the unpleasant nature of Hassan, or/and the author's:
- he runs into haute cuisine, but he wants simple expensive dishes
- his schoolmate is smug
- the little boy shows him his genitals, with no apparent reason
- the grandfather is stingy, Haji senior is obese and greedy and he eats ugly, the grandma is decrepit
- his benefactor, The Comte is miser and has a bad tongue
- his sister annoys him and has no personal life
- his girlfriend has thick ankles, the chefs, excepting Verdun, are hypocritical and libidinous, Verdun's wife is unpleasant, Claude, the waiter, is a crook, Jacques is not too smart...
So ONLY the last few pages have some kindness and benevolence, in order to raise the number of stars. Even so, two and a half should be a proper mark...
March 13, 2015
Now here is a case where the movie was waaaaayyy better than the book. Having loved the movie, I found the book quite disappointing. The time span covered in the book is too great to give the story depth. The leap ahead in time (20 years) in Paris is jarring. Hassan's father and the pivotal character of Madame Mallory both die before Hassan really reaches a mature understanding of his life's journey, which is unsatisfying. At around the same time in the book, the author introduces a new character, Chef Paul Verdun, who becomes a huge part of the last third of the book. But we don't really feel the authenticity of this relationship or why it is suddenly so much more important than the lifelong relationships to Hassan's father and first mentor, Madame Mallory. The lack of romance in the book is just sad. Then the author adds in a theme about the politics and economics of the restaurant business in France which simply splits the focus of the book into too many directions. Skip the read; watch the movie!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andy.
16 reviews257 followers
September 23, 2010
Mr. Morais's first novel follows a familiar, even Seussian, formula, but it paints the sights, smells, and tastes of its protagonist's adventure so vividly that I needed to stop for a snack. Its prose addresses the upper crust society of Paris without falling prey to pretension, though as a foodie, I might have had a bit of an advantage in comprehension. The characters are easy to love, and that attachment left me deeply moved by the final pages. It's a quick read; you have no excuse!
Profile Image for Renita D'Silva.
Author 10 books328 followers
March 14, 2018
Wonderful! A fabulous book! A feast for all the senses! Loved it SO much.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,675 reviews2,667 followers
August 28, 2020
(3.5) From the acknowledgments I learned that this was written specifically to be filmed by the author’s friend Ismail Merchant; though Merchant died in 2005, it’s no surprise that it went on to become a well-received 2014 movie. I think the story probably worked better on the big screen, what with the Indian and French settings, the swirls of color and the bustle of restaurant kitchens. Still, I’d forgotten enough about the story line to enjoy the book, too.

Hassan Haji, the narrator, is born in Mumbai, one of six children of a restaurateur, and has his interest in other food cultures awakened early by a memorable French meal . After his mother’s death, the extended family relocates to London and then to provincial France. Stranded in Lumière by a car breakdown, the family decides to stay, opening a curry house across from a fine dining establishment run by Gertrude Mallory. Madame Mallory engages in a battle of wills with the uncouth new arrivals. It nearly takes a tragedy for her to get over her snobbishness and xenophobia and realize Hassan has a perfect palate. She takes him on as an apprentice and he makes the title’s 100-foot journey across the street to join her staff.

The film was undoubtedly a Helen Mirren vehicle, and the Lumière material from the middle of the book holds the most interest. The remainder goes more melancholy as Hassan loses many family members and colleagues and deplores the rise of French bureaucracy and fads like molecular gastronomy. Although he eventually earns a third Michelin star for his Paris restaurant, the 40-year time span means that the warm ending somewhat loses its luster. (I can’t remember if the film went so far into the future.) A pleasant summer read nonetheless.

Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.
Profile Image for Barbara.
462 reviews45 followers
March 7, 2015
Chapters 1 & 2. Curry practically wafts from the pages as this sensory exploration carries you though Hassan's childhood in Mumbai India. Feel the heat, hear the hum of mosquito wings, see the vibrantly colored saris worn by his mother. But most of all the delicious tastes and smells that are Hassan's first memories growing up in the apartment above his grandparent's restaurant on the Napean Sea Road.

"Never forget, a snob is a person utterly lacking in good taste."

Following a tragedy, Hassan's family immigrates to England, and spends a miserable year there. Eventually the family lands in Lumiere, France. It is there where Hassan meets and becomes the protege of Madam Mallory, a chef who owns a two star restaurant right across the street from the Haji's new home and Indian style restaurant. The food figures prominently in the story, but it isn't just about the food, for this is truly the story of a journey. No one takes this journey alone, for better or worse. Family, friends, colliegues, they all have a part to play our journey of life. Madam Mallory recognizes Hassan's gift for blending favors and cooking, though it is crude and undeveloped, but she takes him under her wing and teaches him all she can. Later, Hassan recognizes her un-admitted roll in his journey to owning his own restaurant in Paris, and rising to the pinnacle of his profession.

There are a couple of interesting looking recipes at the end of the book. Onion Bhaji, a type of Indian snack food made with onions,, graham flour, spices, and herbs, and fried golden brown. The other recipe is much more complicated, it is called Trotters Soup, made from lambs' or sheeps' feet.

This was an interesting "journey" into a couple of different cultures and the food that defines them and gives them life.
Profile Image for Helena.
350 reviews40 followers
November 18, 2020
I just read 252 pages of this book and not once did I care. Not even once. I could give it 2 stars but I think it's best to leave it unrated. Definitely one of the most underwhelming books I've read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,946 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.