Happy New Year’s Eve Eve, welcome to my last minute slew of reviews to catch myself up before CBR10 officially comes to a close!
I’m a big Top Chef fan, despite my occasionally toddler like food preferences, and was pleasantly surprised by host Padma Lakshmi’s memoir which covered both her career and personal life. She opens with her courtship and marriage to Salam Rushdie which, besides Top Chef, may be the thing she is most famous for doing. While her dissection of her failed marriage was well written and interesting, she cites their age difference, her growing career and his inability to understand her endometriosis pain, I really hated that she opened with this! I am always nitpicky about the formatting of memoirs and prefer things to be chronological. After writing about her divorce she jumps back in time to her early childhood split between India and New York then works her way forward again into her early career as a model and eventual actress and TV host in Europe. The choice to discuss Salman early left a weird gap in the latter two thirds of her story because she essentially jumps from her late twenties to her mid thirties.
“And so I was left with a mantra, a sort of haiku version of our relationship: I don’t regret one day I spent with him, nor did I leave a moment too soon.”
Lakshmi’s had a very interesting, complicated but privileged life that she is surprisingly open about. I realize that anyone who agrees to write a memoir has to be willing to offer a certain amount of herself to her audience but Lakshmi really offers up a lot of personal information. She is incredibly open about her struggles with endometriosis and the years of pain she endured before finding a doctor who could properly diagnose her. I’ve been struggling with my own reproductive organ drama (PCOS, not endo) so I always appreciate openness about similar struggles from people with a public platform because they can bring awareness to uncomfortable issues. While her endometriosis struggles hit a chord with me it was her candor about the drama surrounding her daughter’s paternity that surprised me the most. It is all very soap opera-y and she spills a lot of dirt for someone in the public eye.
I don’t think you have to be a fan of Top Chef to like Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir but being familiar with Lakshmi will probably make this more enjoyable. Sure she tries to make hosting a globetrotting cooking competition television show seem like the most complicated profession someone could pursue but she acknowledges her blessed life enough to seem like a decent human being. I wish her all the best as I rewatch Season 15(!) on Hulu.