The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey

4.0 67
by Richard C. Morais
     
 

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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 Richard Morais's charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey. Lively and brimming with the

Overview

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 Lumiére, a small village in the French Alps.

The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiére 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With his debut novel, longtime Forbes magazine correspondent Morais delves into a rich, imagery-filled culinary world that begins in Bombay and ends in Paris, tracing the career of Hassan Haji as he becomes a famed Parisian chef. Narrated by Hassan, the story begins with his grandfather starting a lowly restaurant in Bombay on the eve of WWII, which his father later inherits. But when tragedy strikes and Hassan’s mother is killed, the Hajis leave India, and, after a brief and discontented sojourn in England, destiny leads them to the quaint French alpine village of Lumière. There, the family settles, bringing Indian cuisine to the unsuspecting town, provoking the ire of Madame Mallory, an unpleasant but extremely talented local chef. From vibrantly depicted French markets and restaurant kitchens to the lively and humorously portrayed Haji family, Morais engulfs the reader in Hassan’s wondrous world of discovery. Regardless of one’s relationship with food, this novel will spark the desire to wield a whisk or maybe just a knife and fork.. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Precise descriptive writing offers much to savor in this bouillabaisse of a first novel from a former Forbes editor. Written at the suggestion of Morais's late friend, noted film producer Ismail Merchant, it's the story of a Muslim boy born in Mumbai who grows up to achieve great fame in the rarefied world of French cuisine. Hassan Haji narrates, beginning with the tale of his grandfather's profitable enterprise: a fleet of "snack-bicycles" delivering lunches to soldiers and laborers in the streets of downtown (then) Bombay in the 1930s. Innovations inspire Hassan's ambitious father Abbas, whose mixed history of achievements and frustrations includes the creation of a popular restaurant ("Bollywood Nights") and a bitter rivalry with a sleek, superrich fellow entrepreneur. When Abbas moves his family to a small village (Lumiere) in France's Jura Mountains, he learns he has trespassed onto territory appropriated by grande dame Gertrude Mallory, an imperious avatar of fine dining who will brook no challenges from brown-skinned "inferiors." Madame Mallory is such a formidable presence (equal parts Lady Bountiful and Falstaff) that she very nearly rescues this repetitive tale from its many longueurs-especially when she inadvertently causes severe physical harm to the innocent Hassan, of whom she will reluctantly whisper "that skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along in a chef once a generation." Predictably, Hassan braves his father's wrath, becomes Mme. Mallory's apprentice-protege and rises like a souffle to prize-winning chef-hood in the appreciative atmosphere of Paris. Will this book eventually become a Merchant-Ivory film, laden with choice roles for Indian actors and featuring (a no-brainer, this) Meryl Streep as Mme. Mallory? An appetizing idea, n'est-ce pas?Agent: Richard Pine/InkWell Management
Ligaya Mishan
There is something absurdly over the top about the food world—the kitchens awash in testosterone, the eternal flames, the flaunting of knives and burns, the lives laid waste in pursuit of what is, let's face it, a fleeting sensual pleasure. It's a setting ripe for farce, and Morais is at his best when he delivers that.
—The New York Times
Yvonne Zipp
Serious foodies will swoon over the meals in Richard C. Morais's The Hundred-Foot Journey…Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event, whether it's a 12-course meal or Hassan's first egg-salad sandwich…
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
“Serious foodies will swoon. Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event.”

--Washington Post Book Review

“The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”

--New York Times Book Review

Washington Post Book Review
“Serious foodies will swoon. Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event.”
New York Times Book Review
“The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”
author of Chocolat - Joanne Harris
"The Hundred-Foot Journey has great charm and is colorfully written, sensual and evocative.”
NPR.org
"A delicious fairy-tale-like read."
Anthony Bourdain
“Outstanding! Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This novel, of mythic proportions yet told with truly heartfelt realism, is a stunning tribute to the devotion of family and food, in that order.”
Booklist
“This novel, of mythic proportions yet told with truly heartfelt realism, is a stunning tribute to the devotion of family and food, in that order.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439165645
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
07/06/2010
Pages:
245
Product dimensions:
8.76(w) x 5.88(h) x 0.94(d)
Lexile:
1190L (what's this?)

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Meet the Author

Richard C. Morais is the editor of Penta, a Barron’s website and quarterly magazine. An American raised in Switzerland, Morais has lived most of his life overseas, returning to the United States in 2003. He is the author of The Hundred-Foot Journey and Buddhaland Brooklyn. He lives in New York City.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey 4 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 67 reviews.
slb62 More than 1 year ago
I loved, loved, loved, this book. Had a hard time putting it down and couldn't wait to pick it up again. I'm not a "cook" by any stretch of the imagination, and really just recently started trying new recipes and experimenting with flavors and spices, so I wasn't sure if this book was going to appeal to me. NO WORRIES! You do not have to know much about cooking at all, but maybe just have an appreciation for the dining experience and love a really well-written, vivid, and passionately told story. The characters were so well written, they just came out of the pages as well as the author's descriptions of the food and the atmosphere of a restaurant/kitchen. I simply fell in love with Hassan and the entire cast of characters. I kept thinking what a great film it would make!!!
Ravenclaw226 More than 1 year ago
I know, bad pun with a book that centers on food, but oh my goodness is this book ever spectacular! Read it before the movie! First of all, definitely a quick, light read, a definite palate cleanser to a lot of the heavy fiction novels out there. I finished the book in two days as I couldn't put it down! Second, the characters, or my goodness the characters! The story focuses on the young boy who we see grow through the story as a chef, he ends up meeting some lively people throughout his journey, many helping him on his way and encouraging him to keep reaching for the stars! Most notably an initial rival to his family Chef Gertrude Mallory. Mallory certainly becomes the biggest influence on the young mans life in numrous ways that I'll let you discover. But these exotic characters definitely come together in this majestic recipe of a book. There are moments I had to remind myself while reading this book that it is a work of fiction, not a biography of Hassan's life. But the story flows in such a way that you feel each of these characters was/is real. Morais' descriptions of the food make you truly hunger for more of the book (as well as a snack for yourself - there were definitely some notable points when my mouth was watering thanks to his beautiful descriptions that only a chef could describe in such detail)! Family, love, and food definitely become the overall focus of this story. It is endearing and heartwarming and fills you in many ways like a delightful 5-star meal. The closing moment of the novel probably being one of the sweetest tie ins of the story line and that moment alone being a huge reason to read this book. Great for someone looking for a light read, but would also make a great book club book (in the copy I possess you even get book club discussion questions and an interview with the author). Definitely one to read before the movie comes out! Also, if you are more preferential to biographies but feel the need to dabble in a little fiction this would be a great place to start as it reads like the bio of young Hassan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you loved the movie about a young Indian chef's rise to fame in the elite world of French cuisine, you may not care for the book, which differs from the movie in many ways. After a rather slow start (which the movie mercifully speeds through), the book focuses on the chef's career and offers interesting, if somewhat overly detailed, insights into the restaurant business in France, especially the impact of the business conditions and the star rating system. While it lacks the romanticism and contrived happy ending of the film, the book brings realism and gravitas to its topic, which some readers may find preferable. Foodies will revel in the mouth-watering descriptions of elaborate dishes, and fans of multigenerational immigrant success stories may find it rewarding. But those who expect a fluffy read should look elsewhere.
CozyLittleBookJournal More than 1 year ago
Richard C. Morais' debut novel, The Hundred Foot Journey, is a travel book for anyone who has ever watched The Food Network and thought, "Wherever that kitchen is, that's where I want to go." Food is the language of this book. The character of Hassan Haji sometimes struggles with issues of identity and belonging as he travels from Mumbai to London to Lumiere to Paris, but always this struggle is phrased in terms of food: to make curry or frogs legs, to seek out tiffin boxes or fish and chips. Even his Muslim identity is mentioned rarely except when relating to diet: to eat pork or not. Ultimately Hassan's true identity is food. His religion is food. His ethnicity is food. His blood runs with curry and wine and butter and garlic and the jus of fresh oysters. It's as though Pi Patel from Life of Pi was experiencing some sort of cosmic opposites day: an Indian boy, instead of trying to find his way home while adrift and alone, is continually travelling further afield while being wrapped in the memories and support of his family; where Pi invented stories to quell his loneliness, Hassan sometimes longs for solitude so he may study the stories of the ancient cookbooks which surround him; where Pi's starvation was his constant companion, Hassan's one constant is food.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. Food plays a major role, and the colors and aromas come alive, making my mouth water. But mostly it is about the journey of a family and one boy in particular, adjusting from the hustle, bustle and chaos of his youth in India to the serenity, detail and distance of Europe. Must read!
Atthebeach More than 1 year ago
I totally enjoyed "The Hundred-Foot Journey"! First of all, it's about food and cooking and restaurants and chefs----what's not to love? And it's about the growth and education of one particular young chef from India to England to rural France to Paris and into the Michelen universe. The descriptions of food and recipes and cooking arts intertwined with the fascinating plot made me keep a note pad by my chaise to jot down cooking tips I didn't want to forget. And the wild and wonderful path this young man took on his journey kept me up late trying to finish. The stories about famous chefs and how Michelen stars are earned---and what happens when they aren't---were enthralling. The story of this young man's family, their hopes and dreams for him, and their encouragement and pride added depth to the fast-paced plot. I told a chef friend about the book and he asked me to "donate" it to him. Then he "donated" it to a fellow chef. Even experienced chefs found it a great read.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I haven't read the entire book but i love the movie I would definantly reccomend either one
Anonymous 6 months ago
Delphimo 9 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie version, but the book overwhelms the sense with the excellent use of language in describing food, settings, and characters. The book takes a different path than the movie, and towards the end of the book that path has faltered. The story leads the reader through delectable, but haughty cuisine; and along the way, many memorable characters enhance the senses. Richard C Morais carefully explains many exotic dishes to the reader, and I for one, still prefer the ordinary menu. I enjoyed hearing about the cost, the training, and the competition for top chefs in French, and the status of the Michelin star for a restaurant.
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I couldn't put it down!
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Charming, witty, poignant, heartwarming and thoroughly enjoyable. Story read, not as a novel, but as real life with fully realized characters and situations. Enjoyable read with some laugh out loud scenes.
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Highly recommend this descriptive memoir. The author effortlessly takes your imagination to India, England and France by telling of the scenery as well as the cuisine.