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Rhoda Recommends Reading: Love, Loss, and What We Ate

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Love, Loss, and What We Ate, is the beautifully written, introspective, memoir by Padma Lakshmi, published in 2016 by Harper Collins. In the wondrous journey that is her life, the Top Chef co-host and judge details her childhood in India, emigrating to New York City, and spending her teenage years in Los Angeles.

Raised by a single mother, and never knowing her birth father, many die-hard Top Chef fans would be surprised to know (as I was) that the beautiful former model was a bestselling cook book author, and had two shows on The Food Network before she replaced the ultra boring, and rigid, Katy Lee Joel as co-host for the sophomore season of Top Chef.

Peppered throughout this 325 page memoir, are various family recipes for chutneys, egg in a hole, Krishna's pickled peppers, kichidi, and my personal favorite; yogurt rice. Aside from her beauty and infallible palate, Lakshmi is a gifted writer. On page 118, she details her contemptuous relationship with her stepfather Peter, and what Lakshmi hilariously deemed "The Silence of The Chickens," her stepfathers sadistic habit of slaughtering poultry in the backyard, directly underneath her bedroom window.

The men in her life play a significant role in her memoir. She details her marriage to controversial author Salman Rushdie and his insensitivity to her painful endometriosis, which led to several surgeries. Mr.Rushdie called her a "bad investment," when his ego was bruised by her refusal to have sex with him, immediately after her endometriotic surgery, claiming she was "making excuses." At one point Lakshmi was seeing two men which led to a pregnancy, but no clue as to whom was the father of her unborn child. The men in question were Adam Dell, a venture capitalist whose brother is the founder of Dell computers, and billionaire CEO, Teddy Forstmann, who headed IMG. Fortstmann was significantly older and would eventually die of brain cancer. His passing left her devastated. Unfortunately, Fortstmann was not the father of her child.

I did not want this evocative memoir to end. Lakshmi's poignant descriptions were a feast for the senses. The many topics she tackles bring up feminist views on matriarchy, self worth, as well as immigration and colorism, which are prevalent in todays climate. This book was well worth the read. You will not be disappointed, that is, until you get to the last page and realize. . . it's over.


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