Compulsively Readable Paperbacks

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey

256 pages; Scribner
In Richard Morais' food-centric world, nights are as "black as a boudin noir"; the sun sets like "a mango sorbet dripping over the horizon"; and there are few things more elegant than a "coal black teenager from Kerala dicing coriander." If you love to eat—particularly French or Indian—you'll be right at home in that world, tagging along with Hassan Haji and his family as they taste their way from India to England to rural France. There, they open Maison Mumbai and engage in a culinary culture war with a snooty French madame who runs the elegant, Michelin-starred restaurant across the street. Her retort to the Hajis' blasting music and garish signage? "Pffaaa. This is France. We are not interested in your curries."  It's not revealing too much to say le snob eventually wakes up and smells the turmeric, realizes Hassan's culinary gifts, and takes him under her wing (of wild pigeon, that is, which Hassan learns to expertly pluck and clean). Morais, a friend of the late filmmaker Ismail Merchant, seems to have cinematic ambitions, and it isn't hard to envision his colorful characters on the big screen. The only catch: plain old movie popcorn might seem like quite a let-down compared to the story's delectable food.
— Lynn Andriani