The Hundred-Foot Journey
Richard C. Morais
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
“Slumdog Millionaire meets Ratatouille” (The New York Times Book Review) in this “delicious fairytale-like read” (NPR) about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste.
Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji 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.
fishermen tie pieces of cod to large treble hooks attached to ten-foot-long bamboo poles; at low tide, they work the rockiest shorelines, jabbing the cod under half-submerged rocks normally inaccessible under pounding surf. An octopus will suddenly shoot out from under the rock and latch on to the cod, and what ensues is an epic battle, the grunting fisherman trying to drag the octopus up onto the rock with the grappling hook secured at the end of the pole. More often than not the fisherman loses
plopping steamy portions of sweet-sour pork onto rice. We would wander in awe, peering, like at the zoo, into stalls selling Iranian barbecue, fish stews from Brazil, Caribbean pots of plantain and goat, and thick wedges of Italian pizza. But my older brother, Umar, whom I followed sheeplike on these outings, led us straight to the Mumbai Grill, where laminated copies of Bollywood film posters, 1950s classics such as Awara or Mother India, decorated the booth. And from the vats of lamb Madras or
smell of syrup and the cool feel of wax paper against my hands splattered and scarred by hot fat. Sometimes I’d roll the Junction to a spot in front of the Kwik Fit, or, if the spirit took me, sometimes outside the Harmony Hair Salon. Such a sense of freedom. And I will always be grateful to England for this, for helping me realize my place in the world was nowhere else but standing before a vat of boiling oil, my feet wide apart. Our departure was as abrupt as our arrival two years earlier.
the shock.” Madame Mallory was not listening to him. She got off her knees and stared across the street at Papa, at our family gathered on the stone steps. Papa looked back at her, coldly now, and they stood locked like that for several moments before Papa told us all to go back inside. There was work to be done, he said. Mallory took back her arm from Monsieur Leblanc’s fussing grasp, brushed herself off. And then she marched across the street after us, banging on our door. Auntie opened the
bulldog. Mallory had taught me that details make the restaurant, and no one could say I didn’t learn my lessons well, for I even twinned each table with a mahogany footstool, on which the women could rest their precious handbags. My front-room staff was crisply snapping linen, draping it over the tables; the faint piano tinkling of Duke Ellington’s “What Am I Here For?” drifted out from the hidden speakers. An apprentice at the sideboard, wiping down crystal, he saw me surveying the dining room