Richard C. Morais, senior editor at Forbes , travelled the world to report on markets and their whimsies, all the while cultivating a passion for gastronomy. His debut novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey , unravels the esoteric world of French cuisine. Hassan, its protagonist, is a Muslim born in Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road, who is willing to stake everything he holds dear to become a renowned chef in France. The book has some fascinating chapters on the fuzzy logic that dictates the workings of all great chefs and their kitchens. It’s a tale also propelled by eccentric, likeable characters. Morias picked his five favourite books about, and based on, food.
Joy of Cooking
By Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
At home: Morais, who has visited India many times, loves masala chai.
This classic, 75-year-old cook book is Morais’ favourite for its “helpful, clear instructions on technical issues of almost every dish in the West, and increasingly in the East”. “I often thumb through the book not to follow its recipes, but to be inspired,” he says.
By Ismail Merchant
It’s a favourite for “sentimental reasons”—film producer Ismail Merchant was the inspiration behind his novel. In Indian Cuisine, there are essays by Merchant’s colleagues about the unique way Merchant could mix business, food and friends. “One of the important dishes of my novel is machli ka salan, a fish stew taken from this cookbook,” Morais says.
Under the Tuscan Sun
By Frances Mayes
“This memoir has a lot in it that annoys me, but when it comes to information about food around the town of Cortona, Italy, you can’t beat it,” Morais says. Cortona is one of the author’s favourite vacation spots, and a scene in The Hundred-Foot Journey tries to evoke the region’s delicious food.
The Decadent Cookbook
By Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray
A book on Roman food, it tells you, among other things, about what the Romans ate at their orgies. In Morais’ words, “It’s a very odd book, a source of great entertainment.”
By Patricia Wells
Patricia Wells is one of the leading food critics in the world. “In this book, Wells goes into chef Joel Robichon’s kitchen,” Morais says. Robichon is a legendary French chef and Wells’ book is about delicious (and complicated) French country dishes.