“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 this charming audiobook. 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 café opposite an esteemed French restaurant - 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 a joy to listen to.
Richard C. Morais, author of The Hundred-Foot Journey, is a contributing editor at Barron’s in New York. An American raised in Switzerland, he was stationed in London for seventeen years, where he was Forbes’ European bureau chief.
©2008 2010 by Richard C. Morais (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Outstanding! A completely engaging human story heavily larded with the lushest, most high-test food porn since Zola. Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking—and absolutely thrilling from beginning to end. I wished it went on for another three hundred pages.”—Anthony Bourdain, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential
“A gorgeous novel, vivid and intimate, tracing a journey from kitchen to kitchen, from culture to culture, with a perfect touch.”—Susan Orlean, New York Times bestselling author
“Richard C. Morais conjures a richly woven tapestry of exotic sights, smells, and tastes that transports the reader to a world of epicurean delights. This is a charming, deeply felt novel that questions, and ultimately celebrates, the twists and turns of an authentically lived life.”—Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author
The writing of this book is beautiful. The style is almost poetic without being tedious. The descriptions of smells and facial expressions and room decor and cooking techniques are so specific yet so well done that it really takes you there. I can picture the table in the front of Haji's restaurant and the smells as he walks by street vendors.
This story is driven by food and cooking. If you are a fan of cooking and/or the cooking channel on tv, you'll love this book. Note that the first review of this book is by Anthony Bourdain, a famous tv "chef."
There is more to the story than just cooking, which is what makes the story very good. The characters are likable and multi-dimensional and well developed. I was very invested in what happened to Haji, and his mentors and his family.
When reading reviews for this book, it's some of the pieces that people rave about that make the story flawed for me. I also had to remind myself that this was not a true story, but that wasn't a positive for me. It felt like a true story during the last quarter of the book because not much happened. It felt like the author had to record facts that weren't actually interesting.
Also, occasionally, the food references went too far for me. There is one action scene where Haji's life is slightly in danger and he stops to describe the smell of the food that the homeless people are cooking while he's running for his life--that seemed odd to me,
I also wish that the author would have put more energy into the development of Haji's friend towards the end of the book. He becomes a big part of the end of the book and of Haji's life and there wasn't enough detail about him for me to care as much as I wanted to.
The narrator was great. He struggled sometimes with the voice and accent of the French lady in comparison to the French men and then leaping back to an East Indian accent, but he did an admirable job at it.
I recommend this book.
The story was amazing, but unless you speak French and French culinary, it can be a bit
overwhelming. I loved hearing it at first but it got a bit cumbersome when he rattled off these french names.
The narrator did a wonderful job on everything!!
This was a super-good story that amazed me because it was "made up." It rang so true as a non-fiction tome that I tried to look up these chefs and their restaurants. I figure that's good writing if I believed it that completely.
Having said that, it is a very slow read, so don't expect wild action and dozens of twists and turns. It's just a good story and that's good enough for me sometimes.!!!
Madame Malarie 180* inspirationally motivated life change
Spot on accent and gender shifts in speech
The transforming gift
What a richly told story by Richard Morais and elegantly narrated by Neil Shah. Great development of character, location and emotion that leant a bit of reality to the story. So much so that I felt this had to have been based in a true story. I have read some recent auto-biographys that can't hold a candle in comparison to the richly laden authenticity and warmth in the writing here. Thank you! It felt like I was watching a movie! The pictures you painted in my head were sublime. Thank you Richard Morais and Neil Shah!
I had this book in my library before I knew it was going to be a film with Helen Mirren, so when I saw the preview I rushed to listen.
It's a passable book with a good germ of a story. But it never delved into character. It was more of the protagonist reading his datebook/journal with no real depth of feeling.
Listening to the narrator do the French accents, was like listening to Inspector Clouseau. I look forward to the film and Ms. Mirren breathing life into a cliché relationship.
Neil Shah, the narrator was exceptional. I loved all the different voices he used. That is what I loved the most.
Madame Mallory sitting outside waiting.
My favorite scene was when Madame Mallory realizes how good a chef Hassan really is.
Papa. His character made me laugh and I think he would have some great stories.
I thought some of the dialogue about butchering was too graphic for me. Being a vegetarian, I really didn't need to hear about it. Although, anyone interested in being a chef would probably find it interesting.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I was thoroughly enjoying this book until, halfway through, the narrator, Hassan, makes the title journey, crossing the road from his family's Indian restaurant to apprentice in Madame Mallory's classic French restaurant. To that point, the focus is, quite entertainingly, on his family, their journey from Mumbai to London to rural France, and the food businesses they create along the way. The battles they fight to protect their restaurants, first in India and then in France, come to life-changing climaxes.
Then Hassan makes the hundred foot journey across the street to Mallory's place. The focus shifts to French cuisine, and nothing much happens over the last three and a half hours. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm guessing those last few hours are condensed into a five- or ten-minute prologue and/or epilogue, serving perhaps as a framing device for the interesting portions that make up the first half of the book.
There are other narrative problems as well. The timeline is inconsistent, off. The climactic events of the first half are hardly mentioned again, at least not to the level of significance they should hold. And the many, many descriptions of food and how it's prepared rarely act as metaphors for the characters or the transformations they (should) be going through. It's as if the story supports the author's desire to show off his knowledge of food preparation and recipes rather than the other way around, which is what you'd expect in a literary novel.
The narration is great (except for Madame Mallory's voice). There are several genres that I find especially appealing in audio format, and I am adding novels about India, after listening to this as well as Q&A (aka Slumdog Millionaire) and A Son of the Circus. Neil Shah, who I believe speaks naturally in an American accent, uses an accent that is part Indian and part English, both on the mild side, to read this book, and I found it quite smooth. But it's not the accent that makes it work, it's the narrative style that these books share.
Maybe I loved the first half of the book because of all the Indian food. When people ask me my favorite food, I say Indian. My last meal request will be Murgha Tikka Masala (murgha is chicken) and as many loaves of naan as I can eat. I've had fantastic Indian food in a number of places where there are strong Indian communities -- India, of course, and 6th Street in the East Village, where I lived for 15 years (Mitiali was my usual haunt), and the U.K. and Fiji and Singapore. Maybe I didn't like the second half of the book because I don't care for offal as much as the French do in their haute cuisine.
Either way, the answer to the question -- Why did the murgha cross the road? -- is: to become a turkey.
(No spoilers). This began as a charming tale of two cities and their cookery, transplanted but traditional Mumbai Muslim food versus traditional French provincial cuisine.
I was intrigued by the character to be played in the upcoming movie adaptation by Dame Mirren, the very unusual female chef; alas, there is all too little of her in the last half of the book, and the hero and his dad, and possibly the author, are traditional jerks through much of it.
One of the few books I've read that will likely make a better movie than a novel.
I am an artist and I love to listen to books while I work. Books have always been an important part of my life. Audible Rocks!
My personal rating system is 3 stars if I like the book but have no need to ever read it again, 4 stars for good and re-readable, 5 stars for favorite stories with great narators.
I enjoyed this book and look forward to the movie but I will never want to read it again.
It was fun to read about the food and the journey of a talented chef, in a strange country.
It is a heartwarming book and I recommend it , though it is not my usual cup of tea.
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