You know what time it is: State Fair time. I hit the fair on opening day.
Most years, I make a beeline for the Dairy Barn and maybe pick up a wild rice burger or a Manny's torta on the way. But this year, a novel inspired me to mix up my usual fair menu of burgers and shakes. Instead, I went for a taste of Mumbai, India, by way of the fairgrounds.
• Full coverage: State Fair | New foods
Butter chicken samosas and Tikka-on-a-Stikka from the Hot Indian stand are two of the new foods at the Minnesota State Fair this year. I was inspired to try them by the spice-infused, tongue-tantalizing food descriptions from Richard Morais' novel, "The Hundred-Foot Journey."
The novel is the story of dueling restaurants in a French village: One is Michelin-starred and serves traditional cuisine, the other is a small, inexpensive Indian spot. The two eateries sit across from each other at a village crossroads, and the tensions are thick as stew.
The narrator is a boy born to cook, who moves with his family from Mumbai to France. He's at the center of the culinary — and cultural — war that breaks out between the two restaurants. The opening pages of the novel set up his story:
"I suspect my destiny was written from the very start — for my first sensation of life was the smell of machli ka salan ... a spicy fish curry ... rising through the floorboards to the cot in my parents' room above the restaurant."
Recently, the book was made into a film. I'll usually choose the book over the movie any day, but this adaptation truly brings the story to life. I recommend both — and the samosas.