To the French, haute cuisine is like the Sistine Chapel to the Italians, nothing speaks more eloquently of their culture. Richard C. Morais, an American journalist, seems to know this innately and portrays it’s essence in every page of The Hundred-Foot Journey.
In The Hundred-Foot Journey by Morais, the reader gets a very close look of gourmand society from the point of view of an outsider, an Indian named Hasaan Haji. Hasaan’s life story begins before he is even born in the slums of West Bombay as his grandfather struggles against his rural background to become a businessman, a restaurateur.
Hasaan’s grows up in family’s restaurant kitchen by his grandmother’s side and seems predestined to grow up cooking. But no boy in Mumbai could imagine the path from his family’s restaurant on Napean Sea Road to upper echelons of French society. Hasaan has talent and an unlikely fairy godmother of sorts, combine with his hard work, this novel follows Hasaan to the top of his profession.
Although Hasaan travels from Indian to England, spending some time traveling continental Europe to land in Lumiere, France and finally Paris, none of his travels are greater than his 100-foot journey across the street to his neighbor’s restaurant.
In memoir style, Morais tells of immigration, tragedy, prejudice, and talent while respecting the real hero of this story, the food. Anthony Bourdain gives The Hundred-Foot Journey rave reviews and you can see why. Bourdain, known for ingesting exotic dishes with often revolting ingredients can relate to the passion of Hasaan to find the most exquisite flavors for his concoctions that satisfy the most discriminating palates.
Morais transports the reader so thoroughly that you may wince with the menu descriptions at the same time your mouth is watering. The Hundred-Foot Journey has particular appeal for Foodies but Morais’ talent for story-telling will appeal to even those who will never taste foie gras.
The One Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais was purchased for review by Boston Book Bums.