New Delhi: Author and food expert Padma Lakshmi is all set to launch her docuseries titled ‘Taste the Nation’ on 18 June.
In over 10 episodes, the 49-year-old Indian-American travels to various parts of the US to meet its indigenous and immigrant communities and hear their stories through the food they eat.
The ‘Top Chef’ host can be heard saying in the trailer: “Everything that the American cuisine is today is because of all the different people and different cultures that contributed to it.”
Having moved to the US from India at the age of four, Lakshmi had voiced her own frustrations as an immigrant in an interview to The Washington Post earlier.
“You know, I was getting pissed off with everybody else trying to tell the immigrant experience except the immigrant, whether it was politicians or journalists or op-ed people…I wanted to know what life was like for them. I wanted them to tell us what they thought and what their life experience was,” she had said.
The new series takes Lakshmi to El Paso along the Mexican-American border, the Arizonian desert, the Gullah Geechee community in South Carolina and even Milwaukee where she interacts with a German who brews beer at home.
She also explores the concept of “food as resistance” in which some communities insist on eating traditional foods rather than commodity food that is dictated by the commercial food establishment. In an interview, she had pointed out the difference between corn tortillas and flour tortillas, considering flour was introduced by European colonialists.
The show also features actress-turned-food writer Madhur Jaffrey in an episode titled, ‘Don’t Mind If I Dosa’.
Called a ‘black giraffe in school
Lakshmi, who was born in Chennai, had moved to the US after her parents separated. She recalls being called “a black giraffe” while in school for her skin colour and height.
She later pursued modeling and acting, and in 1999 published a cookbook called Easy Exotic. In 2016, she also published a memoir titled Love, Loss, and What We Ate.
Lakshmi became a television host for the celebrated show ‘Top Chef’ in 2006. She had previously hosted a season of “Padma’s Passport” on the Food Network in 2001 and featured on “Planet Food” too.
She is an advocate for women’s and immigrant’s rights and has been vocal during the #MeToo movement. She was briefly married to novelist Salman Rushdie and has a 10-year-old daughter with venture capitalist Adam Dell.