Title: The Hundred-Foot Journey
Author: Richard C. Morais
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Hassan Haji has been enamored of food all his life. As a young boy in Bombay, he was always around the family restaurant started by his grandfather. But after unexpected violence and tragedy, the family leaves their home and settles in England, but Hassan’s father is not content. It’s only after they find a house in France and open a restaurant that Hassan begins to grow into the a true food artist.
I’m a huge fan of books about food, so it was with delight that I picked up The Hundred-Foot Journey. This is a book filled with tantalizing descriptions of mouthwatering food. It made for a really nice change, as I’ve noticed that most of the books in foodie genres are about Italian cooking. Reading about Indian cooking in fiction was something unique and new, and I enjoyed the experience immensely. If you aren’t that familiar with Indian cuisine, you’ll still likely find this book delicious, as Morais’ descriptions are really universal.
I loved the story of Hassan. He was an appealing character, eager to learn and desperate to better himself. In fact, this entire book is about rising above one’s circumstances in the dream of something better. Hassan learns this lesson very well from his father. It’s only when he settles and is no longer trying to improve himself that Hassan stagnates. It’s a great message – no matter what you have, it’s good to work towards a goal and to try and constantly better yourself.
The Hundred-Foot Journey was remarkably easy to read, and for that I credit Morais’ prose. It’s wonderfully lush, taking the reader through Hassan’s life easily. My interest never waned while reading this book. Morais shows the reader many different cultures in this book, and they are wonderfully depicted. Sometimes I forgot he wasn’t Indian, as he managed many of the nuances of the culture very well.
As I was reading The Hundred-Foot Journey, I have to admit that I often wanted more. More descriptions, more plot, more meat. I don’t say this often, but this is a book that could easily have been 100 pages longer without suffering a bit. Morais could have fleshed out more of the story that he passes over in intervening pages. That’s not to say the book isn’t good without that, just that, as a reader, I would have loved the elaboraiton. Also, a very minor quibble, but I found an error in one of his food descriptions – daal, an Indian staple, is made with lentils, not chick peas.
With these issues, people might think I’d knock The Hundred-Foot Journey down to 4 stars, rather than 4.5, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I enjoyed this novel too much to even think about giving it less than 4.5 stars. It was a fun, heartwarming book that I highly recommend to those interested in food, culture, and anyone just looking for a well-written and interesting story!