'Taste the Nation': Padma Lakshmi has come a long way since contentious marriage and divorce to Salman Rushdie
The marriage, which lasted from 2004 to 2007, affected Lakshmi in myriad ways and made her the person she is today
Padma Lakshmi, cookbook author and host of Bravo's 'Top Chef,' is set to take fans on a journey to 10 American cities in her new Hulu reality series 'Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi'. The reality TV star will not only taste all the delicious foods that the different destinations have to offer but she will also "uncover the roots and relationship between our food, our humanity and our history – ultimately revealing stories that challenge notions of identity, belonging, and what it means to be American."
While her accomplishments have gained her popularity on her own, but many still speak of her high-profile relationship with author Salman Rushdie. Usually a quiet soul, Lakshmi's 2016 memoir 'Love, Loss and What We Ate' took us into her world as she wrote of her life as a child to her experiences in the culinary world. The New York Times reported that the memoir keeps almost no topic uncovered as Lakshmi spoke of the "uncertainty over paternity during her pregnancy, the pain of a custody case, and her efforts to overcome the insecurity she felt being Indian."
She also spoke of highly personal experiences such as being sexually abused at the age of 7, and spoke of her relationship with Rushdie, which her book reveals, was "overshadowed" by the fatwa issued in 1989 by then Iranian supremo Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and which called for Rushdie to be killed for his "blasphemous" book 'The Satanic Verses'.
Lakshmi and Rushdie met in 1999 - she was 28 and an aspiring model and actress, he 51 and married. The duo shared a "high-profile love affair" and tied the knot in 2004 - but in time their relationship was affected by health concerns and professional goals. The couple later divorced in 2007. According to Lakshmi, her battle with endometriosis which called for "extensive surgery" contributed to the failure of their marriage. She writes in her memoir that her then-husband had called her "a bad investment" and was "insensitive" to her medical condition as she tried to heal. She had further hinted that her inability to engage in sexual intercourse was something Rushdie had taken as a rejection.
The hostility between the Booker-Prize-winner and Lakshmi wasn't a secret even though Rushdie told Lakshmi that she had the right to tell her side of the story the way she wanted; but in his 2012 memoir 'Joseph Anton,' Rushdie referred to his x-wife as "irrational, vapid and vain."
The publication further revealed that after her marriage had ended in 2007, she had relationships with venture capitalist Adam Dell and financier Theodore J. Forstmann. On a healthier note, Lakshmi is the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America and her memoir reveals that "cooking staked out emotional markers in her life. It bolstered her confidence when, in the presence of Mr. Rushdie’s friends, it allowed her to 'keep her hands busy', to mask her insecurities."
The worldwide professional foodie takes a different approach to "tasting around the world" as we are set to see her "uncover the roots" of dishes that have sparked conversations and fed generations rather than just being a staple food of a town with a fascinating history. This June, Hulu's 'Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi' will explore cultures through cuisine.
Hulu's official synopsis reads, "In 'Taste the Nation', award-winning cookbook author, host and executive producer Padma Lakshmi, takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today. From indigenous communities to recent immigrant arrivals, Padma breaks bread with Americans across the nation to uncover the roots and relationship between our food, our humanity and our history – ultimately revealing stories that challenge notions of identity, belonging, and what it means to be American."
Watch the trailer below:
Catch all episodes of 'Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi' on June 19, 2020, on Hulu.