We didn’t know about the international best-seller, The Hundred-Foot Journey, a novel by Richard C. Morais. But after seeing the film version twice, we were so captivated that we ordered a copy.
The main story, of an immigrant Indian restaurant family taking on the finest Michelin restaurant in 50 miles of their town in the south of France, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as a “favorite summer read” in 2010. Oprah brought the book to Steven Spielberg, and we are the beneficiaries of the film, The Hundred Foot Journey. If you love a warm story, beautiful cinematography, spot-on performances and direction and of course, great cuisine, you’ll cherish this charming film.
Let others write about the cultural divide and the ability to walk in somebody else’s shoes. We’re here for the food, which is glorious. From the just-harvested produce and fresh proteins in the town market, to the activity in the kitchens of two very different restaurants, this film is a feast for food lovers.
The actual distance from the [fictitious] elegant Michelin one-star Le Saule Pleureur* to the boisterous newcomer, Maison Mumbai, is brief: one hundred feet, says the title. It refers to both the actual distance and the cultural divide and battlefield.
But the distance seems shorter. Just walk out the front door of the elegant maison de maître that is Le Saule Pleureur, cross the country road and enter the more modest premises of the upstart neighbor. It’s Pigeon aux Truffes versus Goat Curry.
There are several journeys: the Kadam family’s, from Mumbai to France; young Hassam’s, from his modest family restaurant to the pursuit of three stars at a top Paris restaurant; the pursuit of the craft of great cuisine; and two love stories. The haughty restaurateur, Madame Mallory, feisty Papa Kadam, and even the beautiful sous-chef in Madame’s kitchen, Marguerite, discover new paths.