The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais
Scribner, 242 pages
For the Haji family, food runs in the blood. Hassan’s grandfather delivered over a thousand lunches a day in order to earn enough to escape the slums of Bombay. With that money, he started a simple roadside restaurant which became enormously successful, and since he always hired from impoverished neighbourhoods, his restaurant was a source of wealth for the whole community. Hassan’s father, seeking a more prestigious image, put a stop to this practise, resulting in a tragedy that compelled the family to leave India. After a few failed attempts in Britain, Hassan’s father opened an Indian restaurant in the French Alps, a mere hundred feet away from a fine country inn with a long-established reputation for gastronomic excellence. Hassan cooked briefly for his father at Maison Mumbai, but once Chef Mallory tasted his creations and recognized genius, he soon earned an apprenticeship in the kitchens of Le Saule Pleureur.
The Hundred-Foot Journey takes the reader from India to Britain, from Britain to the French Alps, and from the French Alps to Paris, where Hassan eventually opens his own restaurant. Along the way, the reader is drawn in by the sights, smells, and tastes of the kitchen, and bears witness to the passion and the purpose of a life devoted to food. This work, although more literary and more intense, will undoubtedly appeal to readers of Erica Bauermeister’s The School of Essential Ingredients and of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat.