Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Book: The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Writer: Richard C. Morais

The Dealio: This is a story, narrated by Hassan Haji, of the evolution of a chef. The grandson of an Indian 'tiffin nabob' in post World War II Bombay, a horrific tragedy sends the entire Haji family racketting off, first, to cold, friendless London, then, to Lumiere, tucked away in the French mountains where their car serendipitously dies. There, and under the disapproval of the maitress do cuisine of a century-old restaurant, the Haji family really comes into its own. A pivotal moment, a flare of temper and an ugly accident transforms many lives, while it sets young Hassan on his way to becoming a legendary, innovative and celebrated chef.

The Grading Period: 4.13 pengies out of 5. This story was so deliciously told that it had me hankering to experiment with a raft of new ideas about sauces, spices and rococo combinations of flavors. I adored the notion of young Hassan as the chef du maison of his family's restaurant, as well as the joyous and strident portrayals of the family members. But about three-fourths of the way through, I felt the story began to lose steam and zest for the telling. The last quarter was rather subdued and heaped sadness upon sorrow upon regret. Although I was still involved enough to continue, it was a bit of a let-down after the sheer bubbling happiness and eager pandemonium of the rest of the tale.
This would make a remarkable movie- and I have heard whispers around the campfire that such is a possibility. I am already casting in my brain.

Lessons Learned: As with any other undertaking, there are some folks who are just born with an innate ability or talent in a certain area. This is not something which can be taught- or even should be taught. But, whenever this does happen, it is something which should be led, carefully guided through the evolutionary process. Without this guidance, what results are genius-despots who can not see beyond their own egos. (And, no, this is not just about cooking).
Next: I do not think that I really would enjoy the 'molecular cooking' which swept the cuisine-world about 10-15 years ago, and just as suddenly was GWTW. Oyster foam? Cream Essence? How about Meat Vapor? Blech.
Lastly: To all you natural-born geniuses out there: there are plenty more where you came from, so widen your horizons before it is too late and let a few less-than-genius beings into your world. They will give your existence undreamed-of flavor and spice. I promise.

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