Just in time for the release of the film adaptation (opening in South Africa on 22 August), I’ve read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais. This is the best book I’ve read this year… Okay, maybe alongside The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. But they’re in totally different categories. So I can’t give either top prize. I loved them both.
I read this lovely book on recommendation of my dear friend Ernest. We have a very special bond, him and I, and our deepest mutual interest is food. You’ll recall I went to the Taste of Cape Town? I went with him. He told me a couple of weeks ago about a film being released soon that he really wanted to go see. So I watched the trailer. And I was excited. But then I found out it is based on a book, and as per my rule, I HAD to read it first. So I got my grubby little paws on it, and started reading.
I was hooked from the first page, and I read it in a day. I adore this book. It is so well written, and it demonstrates how an author can create powerful and effective imagery with just his words. This author in particular, does so excellently. The book follows a typical Indian family from their humble beginnings in Mumbai, working as a family to reach success through their food. However, before long tragedy strikes, and the family has to leave their home. Their Mumbai. They end up in London, trying to rebuild. Language and culture differences obviously plays a big role, and it is a theme throughout the book. After some time, the family once again, finds themselves having to leave their home. They travel across Europe, experiencing the culture and cuisine offered by each region they stop, when they finally end up in a small village deep in France. It is here where they settle and find themselves again. They delve back into their own culture and food again after a very long time of feeling alienated and lost. Then they meet their neighbour, Madame Mallory, a difficult and stern French chef who runs a Michelin starred inn.
I am so afraid to give too much away, I just want to stop myself. It is an incredible story of culture, food, traveling, family, friendship, heartache, conflict and ultimately, the strive to follow one’s passion.
Having been to India myself, I can tell you that I was there again while reading this. The smells, the tastes, the people and the sounds, all of it, was so accurately described by Mr Morais, that I was instantly there again. It is fantastic, and it reaffirmed the desire in me to go back again. And France, oh France, the darling of my foodie heart. I want to go back. And eat. And learn.
If you love food, and culture, and traveling, and a good read, this book is for you. If you haven’t seen the film, read it first. I promise, it will be worth it.