My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Long before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we eat is an extension of how we love, how we comfort, how we forge a sense of home—and how we taste the world as we navigate our way through it. Shuttling between continents as a child, she lived a life of dislocation that would become habit as an adult, never quite at home in the world. And yet, through all her travels, her favorite food remained the simple rice she first ate sitting on the cool floor of her grandmother’s kitchen in South India.

Poignant and surprising, Love, Loss, and What We Ate is Lakshmi’s extraordinary account of her journey from that humble kitchen, ruled by ferocious and unforgettable women, to the judges’ table of Top Chef and beyond. It chronicles the fierce devotion of the remarkable people who shaped her along the way, from her headstrong mother who flouted conservative Indian convention to make a life in New York, to her Brahmin grandfather—a brilliant engineer with an irrepressible sweet tooth—to the man seemingly wrong for her in every way who proved to be her truest ally. A memoir rich with sensual prose and punctuated with evocative recipes, it is alive with the scents, tastes, and textures of a life that spans complex geographies both internal and external.

I have a fondness for audio books of celebrity memoirs.  They are almost always read by the author, and so there is the fun of hearing, first hand, about the person's life.  I really liked Padma Lakshmi before I read this book.  I knew of her from Top Chef, and as the ex-wife of Salman Rushdie, the famous author.  So I was eager to learn more about this stunning Indian beauty.  While I enjoyed this book, I was left with a tarnished opinion of the author.

What I liked:
Family Ties:
Lakshmi pays homage to the strong women in her life: her mother, aunts, and grandmother.  Food memories are interspersed with examples of the love and support Padma received from these amazing women.  Whenever she was ill, and she had numerous issues with Endometriosis, a wonderful female would be on hand with comforting meals from her native India.  I loved that recipes for these dishes were included in this book.  I wish there had been a way to covey this better in audio, but, this means I need to get the print version from my local library.

Culture Clash:
Padma also writes about her challenges trying to straddle two different cultures.  Throughout her childhood, she lived alternately in India and the United States.  She had to navigate wearing jeans and eating hamburgers in New York and then returning to India to a vegetarian diet and strict codes of conduct.  I found this fascinating.

Advocacy for Endometriosis:
Although Padma is one of the most beautiful people on the planet, she has had serious health problems all her life.  After being misdiagnosed time and again, she finally was found to have Endomitriosis.  I really could relate to her issues, and was saddened that her husband, Salman Rushdie, was so unsupportive in her time of need.

What I Didn't Like:
Lack Of Self Awareness:
As I have said, I am a fan of Padma Lakshmi.  But I was surprised at her descriptions of her relationships with men.  She has had numerous relationships with much older men throughout her life.  She seemed to crave men with power and more life experience than she had.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Who am I to judge.  But she wrote off this aspect of her life as just having "Major daddy issues".  Ya think?

I feel this would have been a more honest book if she delved more deeply as to why she had these daddy issues, and how these men met her need to be "taught" by these lovers.

She also doesn't really seem to get just how entitled and fortunate she is.  It didn't appear that she has any regular people in her life, other than her family.  I get that she probably is weary why of people want to be friends with her.  I think most celebrities have legitimate concerns about being used.  But she came off as only wanting to associate with A-list celebrities and intellectuals.

If you are curious about the life of Padma Lakshmi, I would definitely recommend this book.  While I wish she had addressed some parts of her life more, I found the book to be an engaging memoir of culture, celebrity, and food.




Release Date:  March 8th, 2016

Genre:  Memoir

Source:  Public Library

Format:  Audio Book

Recommendation:  Filled with recipes, exotic places, and intriguing relationships, this book was entertaining but had a surprisingly unflattering view of Padma Lakshmi's relationships with men.  If you want to know about this celebrity, it would be well worth your time to read/listen to this book. 


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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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