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Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

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A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera—a tantalizing blend of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn Long before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera—a tantalizing blend of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn 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. Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate and unexpected story of food and family—both the ones we are born to and the ones we create—and their enduring legacies.


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A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera—a tantalizing blend of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn Long before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera—a tantalizing blend of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn 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. Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate and unexpected story of food and family—both the ones we are born to and the ones we create—and their enduring legacies.

30 review for Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    This is an interesting memoir because it is so full of yearning and I always appreciate when a writer can lay their desires bare. The narrative certainly meanders, but that isn't a bad thing. There is an interesting lack of structure in how Lakshmi shares her life, from her childhood here in the United States and in India, to her adulthood, her modeling career, marriage to Salman Rushdie, hosting Top Chef and eventually becoming a mother. The writing is particularly strong when she writes of her This is an interesting memoir because it is so full of yearning and I always appreciate when a writer can lay their desires bare. The narrative certainly meanders, but that isn't a bad thing. There is an interesting lack of structure in how Lakshmi shares her life, from her childhood here in the United States and in India, to her adulthood, her modeling career, marriage to Salman Rushdie, hosting Top Chef and eventually becoming a mother. The writing is particularly strong when she writes of her relationship with an older man named Teddy, and, of course, when she writes about food. She captures the wide-eyed wonder of someone who loves learning and being around learned people, someone who has lived a whirlwind life around the world and has the good sense to appreciate it. I do wish editors would edit celebrity books more rigorously because with a stronger edit, this would have been not just a great book but an excellent one. At times, the prose just wanders too much and a bit more formal structure would have gone a long way. Still, I enjoyed reading this one. I recommend it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    I admired Padma Lakshmi from afar until I read her memoir. It's hard not to be struck by her beauty and well-spoken grace on television. On Top Chef I liked the delicate yet discerning way she tasted the competitors' morsels. I liked that she married Salman Rushdie, a man of substance. I know a whole lot more after reading her words and I'll never look at her with such naive admiration again. She is just too full of herself. She doesn't seem to appreciate or understand how privileged she is. When I admired Padma Lakshmi from afar until I read her memoir. It's hard not to be struck by her beauty and well-spoken grace on television. On Top Chef I liked the delicate yet discerning way she tasted the competitors' morsels. I liked that she married Salman Rushdie, a man of substance. I know a whole lot more after reading her words and I'll never look at her with such naive admiration again. She is just too full of herself. She doesn't seem to appreciate or understand how privileged she is. When her marriage to Rushdie ended, she seemed most concerned about how this would affect her "social and intellectual prominence". In Rushdie's book, he describes her as "vain and socially ambitious; a moody narcissist, irrational, and vapid." Some of his observations ring true for me. She does not embrace her age but rather bemoans it. Here's a typically overwritten quote: "Aging is hard enough on a superficial level. Your features begin to wilt, like cilantro left out too long." (Many times she pushes in these contrived food references.) Here's another example of her overworked writing: "All this sanctimonious pontificating does not at all, by the way, excuse or explain why I gave Krishna beef broth that day." There were some interesting tidbits about Indian culture. When Krishna was born, there were some familial expectations that made me stop and ponder . If you are interested in endometriosis, there are some tidbits there that might be interesting. Overall, the narrative was disjointed, often laborious, and always superficial. I felt like her editors gave her full reign and should have been much more aggressive. Padma seemed to be attracted to wealth and power. She never seems to have enough of either. She simultaneously dated a billionaire, Teddy Forstmann, and Adam Dell, her baby Daddy. Only a paternity test could determine his daddyhood. Thanks to Teddy, who is deceased, her daughter will receive a trust fund that will most likely exceed one billion dollars---which will make her own 20 million net worth seem pretty shabby. I will give Rushdie the final words: "She was ambitious in a way that obliterated feeling."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tara Scott

    Prior to reading this book, the only experience I had of Padma was through Top Chef, and on tv she seemed very pleasant and actually down to earth and quite likable. Boy did my perspective change by the end of this work! This is quite literally the only memoir I've ever read where I went into the book generally liking the person and by the end flat out hating them. Somehow Padma wrote a memoir where she actually comes off as extremely unlikable. I found her to be a narcissistic, gold-digging whi Prior to reading this book, the only experience I had of Padma was through Top Chef, and on tv she seemed very pleasant and actually down to earth and quite likable. Boy did my perspective change by the end of this work! This is quite literally the only memoir I've ever read where I went into the book generally liking the person and by the end flat out hating them. Somehow Padma wrote a memoir where she actually comes off as extremely unlikable. I found her to be a narcissistic, gold-digging whiner with (grand)daddy issues. She seems to do nothing but use people and complain throughout this book. The parts about her child and India I found to be boring and over detailed (enough about cumin already!!). I felt bad for the long line of men she had crushed in her wake, especially the poor father of her baby who battled her for custody. I had about had enough of her 'woe is me- I am a gorgeous former model who is wealthy and on tv, dealing with men who just can't seem to fulfill me because I am so smart and worldly' BS. She seems to be saying, well I will just have to date men 30-40 yrs my senior so that I don't get bored with all those stupid people my age I am forced to engage with. These men just happen to all be incredibly wealthy and powerful and somehow can advance my career. Woops how did that happen? I felt just about done with this book halfway through, then I got to the part where she ate her placenta and I wished I could just punch her in the face. Do yourself a favor and don't read this book--especially if you are a fan of Top Chef because it will just ruin it all for you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I hate most autobiographies. People tend to try to make their lives sound extraordinary, while remaining humble, and deserving. They gloss over the juicy bits, the stuff we really want to know, and try really hard to justify their shitty behavior. This book is exactly like that. I am not a hater. I love Top Chef. Padma has always struck me as a beautiful woman and an adequate host. A bit bland, a bit whiny, perhaps. In this memoir, Padma is just that. Bland and whiny, dare I say vapid and boring? I hate most autobiographies. People tend to try to make their lives sound extraordinary, while remaining humble, and deserving. They gloss over the juicy bits, the stuff we really want to know, and try really hard to justify their shitty behavior. This book is exactly like that. I am not a hater. I love Top Chef. Padma has always struck me as a beautiful woman and an adequate host. A bit bland, a bit whiny, perhaps. In this memoir, Padma is just that. Bland and whiny, dare I say vapid and boring? Her "struggles" don't sound half bad to me. Scarred in a terrible auto accident, yet she went on to become an international model and actress. She never felt like she belonged, yet she went to good schools and travelled all over the world, had an incredible social life and a strong supportive family. Huh. Apparently her lack of confidence in her own intellect was the driving force behind her affair and eventual marriage to the most amazing and creative man she could find, Salman Rushdie. Even though he was very married, a father to a small child, and way too old for her. I am NOT judging her. Everyone makes mistakes, does stupid things, behaves badly. She spends an awful lot of time trying over and over to make us understand why. I don't care why. I had a hard time sympathizing with her poor me attitude any time life threw her a curveball. OK, I will sympathise with her struggle with endometriosis. I'm sure it was painful and traumatic. I skimmed past most of it. Page after descriptive bloody page... I don't want to read about thick oozing black menstrual blood, thanks. Ugh. For the most part, Padma leads a charmed life. She travels, dates wealthy men, lives the high life, all the while bemoaning her sad state. I wanted to get to know her, even, to like her. She ended up annoying me more than anything. If I could, I'd have given her the old "Moonstruck slap" and told her to snap the hell out of it. The writing is overdone, almost to the point of being pretentious. Her food references are overwrought, she's constantly reminding us she's not just a home cook, she's a Food Network STAR. I stopped caring about anything she had to say less than halfway through. Skip the book, watch Top Chef. While my husband drools over Padma, I'll have my eyes on Tom Collichcio ;) P.S. Egg in a Hole is hardly a recipe.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach

    I really liked Padma from my years of watching Top Chef, so when I saw that she wrote a memoir, I totally wanted to read it. I learned a lot of stuff about her I didn't know, and she spilled enough tea to keep my inner-gossip hound happy. I really enjoyed her little tidbits about India and her Indian culture, but her "my life is so hard" shtick definitely got old. I really liked Padma from my years of watching Top Chef, so when I saw that she wrote a memoir, I totally wanted to read it. I learned a lot of stuff about her I didn't know, and she spilled enough tea to keep my inner-gossip hound happy. I really enjoyed her little tidbits about India and her Indian culture, but her "my life is so hard" shtick definitely got old.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I've had this on my Kindle for years, and I think I thought she'd be shallow or full of herself so I didn't crack it open. Instead I found Padma Lakshmi to be refreshingly open, honest, and direct about her relationships, health issues, career, and her love for food. She starts in 2007 when she moves out of the home she shared with Salman Rushdie, then goes back in time before catching us up to the almost present. I've had this on my Kindle for years, and I think I thought she'd be shallow or full of herself so I didn't crack it open. Instead I found Padma Lakshmi to be refreshingly open, honest, and direct about her relationships, health issues, career, and her love for food. She starts in 2007 when she moves out of the home she shared with Salman Rushdie, then goes back in time before catching us up to the almost present.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Rubin

    I enjoyed this. Admittedly, I walked into this with a fairly low opinion of Lakshmi -- I had assumed her to be vapid, self-absorbed, and attracted to little more than money and power. And she is! But I guess I was surprised to the degree that she owns it. She doesn't come off well in all situations, and she cops to a lot of it. That's not easy. She's kind of a jerk, she thinks she's brilliant and beautiful -- more than she likely is, I'm guessing, but who cares? She at least offers a portrait of I enjoyed this. Admittedly, I walked into this with a fairly low opinion of Lakshmi -- I had assumed her to be vapid, self-absorbed, and attracted to little more than money and power. And she is! But I guess I was surprised to the degree that she owns it. She doesn't come off well in all situations, and she cops to a lot of it. That's not easy. She's kind of a jerk, she thinks she's brilliant and beautiful -- more than she likely is, I'm guessing, but who cares? She at least offers a portrait of a person who is more dimensional than I anticipated and loves pretty deeply. In the end, I liked her more than I expected to, though she could certainly use a sense of humor, which she seems to sorely lack.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bharath

    This is a book about Padma Lakshmi's life and struggles which went with it. It is very moving for the large part as she writes about the attitude of a few insensitive men she gets into relationships with. These sections which deal with her personal trauma do make you feel for what she has been through, dealing at the same time with endometriosis. It is not easy making it as a model in the west when you are an expat, but she persists and finally makes it. The book is interspersed with a few recip This is a book about Padma Lakshmi's life and struggles which went with it. It is very moving for the large part as she writes about the attitude of a few insensitive men she gets into relationships with. These sections which deal with her personal trauma do make you feel for what she has been through, dealing at the same time with endometriosis. It is not easy making it as a model in the west when you are an expat, but she persists and finally makes it. The book is interspersed with a few recipes quite randomly. This of course is to outline her interest in cooking - she also hosted the "Top Chef" show. After her troubled marriage and later relationship troubles, it is refreshing to about her relationship with Teddy. He is one who gives are the respect she deserves. Yet, as you read on, you see that she has made her mistakes as well and it would have been worthwhile devoting a few pages to some introspection. I found the book lose steam, continuity and narrative in the middle. Some of the cooking passages are also random, and only slow the book down. However, to understand her life and struggles, it is still a worthwhile read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Happyreader

    Less a food memoir and more a cleaned-up response to tabloid rumors about her love life. Like her favorite Indian snacks, initially tasty but ultimately unsatisfying.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    For someone who always seemed to convey a serene and low-key spirit—at least while on TV—Padma has certainly led a life of high drama. From her struggle to fit in and assimilate as a young immigrant from India to her tumultuous relationship and marriage with Salman Rushdie, and everything that happened afterwards, her life has definitely been a roller coaster ride. But I also have to add that I’ve read many celebrity memoirs and it never fails to surprise me how fast they lose touch with reality For someone who always seemed to convey a serene and low-key spirit—at least while on TV—Padma has certainly led a life of high drama. From her struggle to fit in and assimilate as a young immigrant from India to her tumultuous relationship and marriage with Salman Rushdie, and everything that happened afterwards, her life has definitely been a roller coaster ride. But I also have to add that I’ve read many celebrity memoirs and it never fails to surprise me how fast they lose touch with reality and forget what it's like to be a person in the real workaday world. For example, as she is contemplating a divorce from Salman Rushdie she says, “It was to confront the possibility that when we parted ways, I might disappear back into the relative obscurity from which I came.” To further illustrate my point, as she struggles with her after-baby weight, she writes, “Wondering what would happen to my career if I couldn’t lose the baby weight made me force myself to accept a reality I had not often considered. My looks were an asset I had consciously or unconsciously benefited from all my life.” Really? How could you not always know that? Nonetheless, despite a wee bit of over overwriting and meandering prose, this was a fairly well done and intimate memoir of Padma. Now I have to find some Top Chef episodes to watch.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rekha

    I needed a cookbook for my Summer Book Bingo card and there may not be a style of book that I would want to read less, so! I picked this one up and it has eight recipes in it and I AM COUNTING IT, DON'T CARE. If you are wondering if she talks shit about Salman Rushdie: YUP. He comes off like an Indian Frasier Crane. Tell me that this surprises you in the least. I needed a cookbook for my Summer Book Bingo card and there may not be a style of book that I would want to read less, so! I picked this one up and it has eight recipes in it and I AM COUNTING IT, DON'T CARE. If you are wondering if she talks shit about Salman Rushdie: YUP. He comes off like an Indian Frasier Crane. Tell me that this surprises you in the least.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Brucker

    Sorry. Boring. Boring. Poorly written. Boring.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Divya

    This book was filled with nostalgia of many kinds for me - the by-lanes of my childhood, the feelings that come from trying to straddle different worlds because of living in different countries, TamBrahm traditions and most importantly - thayir saadam. While I felt that Padma tries to hard to be poetic about food in some places, I also felt that this was a very honest take on her life. She calls herself out on many things including daddy issues, a sense of entitlement and more. She also takes th This book was filled with nostalgia of many kinds for me - the by-lanes of my childhood, the feelings that come from trying to straddle different worlds because of living in different countries, TamBrahm traditions and most importantly - thayir saadam. While I felt that Padma tries to hard to be poetic about food in some places, I also felt that this was a very honest take on her life. She calls herself out on many things including daddy issues, a sense of entitlement and more. She also takes the time to walk readers through the symptoms, fears and treatment surrounding endometriosis, which will likely help some women who may be dismissing this as just a sign of having a low pain threshold. Overall, an easy read, with some yummy TamBrahm recipes thrown in, and a lot of nostalgic memories of people and places. Once you're done reading, be sure to watch the segment on the Ellen show where Padma demonstrates just how thayir saadam can be made. Remember it HAS to be mixed by hand!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    As a closeted foodie one of my favorite shows is Top Chef. I was always intrigued, by Padama Lakshmi: a coco-colored beauty who is articulate and icy, with a highly educated palate. Thus, I was captivated by her memoir. Padma is whip smart. Her book covers her high profile romances with older men (Salman Rushdie & Teddy Frostman), growing up in India, her ethnic identity struggles, her modeling career, having endometriosis, filming Top Chef, her undying love for her little girl, and food. Her el As a closeted foodie one of my favorite shows is Top Chef. I was always intrigued, by Padama Lakshmi: a coco-colored beauty who is articulate and icy, with a highly educated palate. Thus, I was captivated by her memoir. Padma is whip smart. Her book covers her high profile romances with older men (Salman Rushdie & Teddy Frostman), growing up in India, her ethnic identity struggles, her modeling career, having endometriosis, filming Top Chef, her undying love for her little girl, and food. Her elaborate descriptions of making Kumquat & Ginger Chutney and other Indian dishes made my mouth water. I did not know that before she did Top Chef, she had written two cookbooks. An added bonus is that the book includes the recipes for the food she discusses. I listened to the audio book which was richly augmented by the author's reading of her own words.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Padma Lakshmi may be a pretty face, but she is no fool. She opens this memoir with the dirt everyone was hoping for: intimate details of her failed marriage to Salman Rushdie, the infamous and brilliant writer. It was a torrid affair, start to finish, but wonderfully these are not even the most interesting chapters of Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir. Lakshmi's story is that of an immigrant child, shuttling between India and New York or LA. It is a story of single motherhood and matriarchy. Padma Lakshmi may be a pretty face, but she is no fool. She opens this memoir with the dirt everyone was hoping for: intimate details of her failed marriage to Salman Rushdie, the infamous and brilliant writer. It was a torrid affair, start to finish, but wonderfully these are not even the most interesting chapters of Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir. Lakshmi's story is that of an immigrant child, shuttling between India and New York or LA. It is a story of single motherhood and matriarchy. It is the dirty tell all that many hoped for out of the pen of a model turned television star. And it is the food memoir that everyone who pairs book-club and dinner parties was waiting on. I expected behind the scenes footage of her public life- Top Chef, the food network, cook books, maybe even stories from within that often whispered about marriage to Rushdi. What I did not expect was the kind honesty and self reflection of a woman truly looking back on her life. Because Lakshmi takes blame for her actions, and is upfront about many of the mistakes she has made, readers are along for the emotional roller coaster found in the quiet moments of life she tenderly portrays - lying on the kitchen floor wrecked after a break up, trying to balance terminal illnesses with the joy of young childhood. These details could have easily been left out, along with all of the mentions of chutneys and street vendor hot-dogs, but that would not have been true to the experience, and Lakshmi clearly wanted to present an honest telling of her life- with the details no one else could. This memoir focuses not just on the facts, but the personal impact of each event - I literally had to pull over on the highway because I was sobbing for her so hard. Written precisely in the best way for an audio adaptation- everything flows naturally as if these are stories being told by a new friend late into the evening. The audio-book is read by the author, and Lakshmi is well suited for this format. I felt as if she was in the room with me, telling the story, mimicking the voices of the Indian family and American friends, breathing life into characters who are all to often mocked rather than embraced for their cultural differences from mainstream media. AND she reads recipes aloud with commentary in the epilogue, sending us all back to the early years in our first apartments and college dorm-rooms calling home to our mothers when we wanted to make something familiar from home. If you are a Food Network lover, a Padma Lakshmi fan, or a memoir reader- this is a great choice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anna Nelson

    It was an enjoyable read until about half way through and then it became very messy and unedited. The author couldn't seem to get to the point. I would have never pictured her to be the self pity type. I'm still a fan and will continue to follow her career and maybe buy another book from her, but this book should have been edited a bit better. It was an enjoyable read until about half way through and then it became very messy and unedited. The author couldn't seem to get to the point. I would have never pictured her to be the self pity type. I'm still a fan and will continue to follow her career and maybe buy another book from her, but this book should have been edited a bit better.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    Considering the fact that I tend to avoid non-fiction, this was surprisingly easy to get through (well, it is a glorified celebrity memoir, I admit;-). I was intrigued because I had watched the first two seasons of Top Chef and was always a little confused why they would have a model, whom I found rather uncharismatic, hosting a food show. In this book, Laskshmi does succeed in hitting you over the head with her absolute love for food and I believe her, so there's that. Unfortunately, I didn't l Considering the fact that I tend to avoid non-fiction, this was surprisingly easy to get through (well, it is a glorified celebrity memoir, I admit;-). I was intrigued because I had watched the first two seasons of Top Chef and was always a little confused why they would have a model, whom I found rather uncharismatic, hosting a food show. In this book, Laskshmi does succeed in hitting you over the head with her absolute love for food and I believe her, so there's that. Unfortunately, I didn't like how she herself came across as very self-centered and unappreciative of her good fortune. Maybe it was that I listened to the audiobook, which she narrates, and frankly, her voice is inherently a bit on the whiny side for me, but I just didn't really mesh with her views and personality. Nonetheless, it was an easy, quick read that was what I was looking for at the moment. Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    Just a so-so for me..... I liked Padma's writing about her food memories and her childhood very much, and the nosy person in me enjoyed some of the recent relationship stuff. But there was a lot of 'poor me' stuff that I found a little bit whiny. I found the structure was a little bit all over the place, without it feeling purposeful for some reason. When a memoir is told in a non-linear way (this went back and forth at times), I still feel there needs to be a progression of theme to make sense Just a so-so for me..... I liked Padma's writing about her food memories and her childhood very much, and the nosy person in me enjoyed some of the recent relationship stuff. But there was a lot of 'poor me' stuff that I found a little bit whiny. I found the structure was a little bit all over the place, without it feeling purposeful for some reason. When a memoir is told in a non-linear way (this went back and forth at times), I still feel there needs to be a progression of theme to make sense of the structure. Enjoyable in places but not memorable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    I’ve watched Top Chef off and on for several seasons, but have never been a massive Padma fan, admittedly because I knew nothing about her. Growing up, she had one foot in America, the other in India, not feeling as though she fit in either place. There’s depth to her story. She’s more than a pretty face and a ropy scar. Here, Padma lays her life bare discussing her health and relationships with candor. There isn’t much sugar-coating, if any.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amisha

    I am Indian and I love food so by proxy I assumed I would love Padma. I knew of her and without getting too close, I thought she was pretty admirable. So I picked up this book and now I have nothing but mixed feelings. At times, I identify with her and enjoy her anecdotes. But the thing that really got to me during the course of this book was the self pity. She understates the grandiosity of the life she has and she writes herself to be a victim of sorts. And the undertones of the writing feel l I am Indian and I love food so by proxy I assumed I would love Padma. I knew of her and without getting too close, I thought she was pretty admirable. So I picked up this book and now I have nothing but mixed feelings. At times, I identify with her and enjoy her anecdotes. But the thing that really got to me during the course of this book was the self pity. She understates the grandiosity of the life she has and she writes herself to be a victim of sorts. And the undertones of the writing feel like excuses for things I as a reader had never accused her of. She seems like she has something to prove... a record to set straight. She married an amazing, accomplished author (we studied Salman Rushdie in high school... that is how epic that man is as a writer) and it seems like she has put self-imposed expectations to live up to that writing. So her style feels a little dishonest... like she may be trying too hard. I want to think that her revelations about her self-doubt are honest and touching but, as a reader, they feel like someone who is trying to write off a life of luxury and portray it as something it is not. She reveals that she has "imposter syndrome" and she worries that she is " just another five foot niner who was plucked from the catwalk." I felt myself having to try very hard to like her and to give her the benefit of the doubt. It was an easy read but not my favorite and left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (foodie pun not intended).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Naori

    I don’t want to say I was surprised by this book because of any negative connotations that may have about predetermined notions of the author, but rather I was approaching for my own reasons of wanting to read a lighter memoir than some of the denser ones I’ve approached recently. So I say surprised because it wasn’t light at all. It was rich, had tangles, did in fact have emotional density, and was punctuated with delightful recipes that coincided with moments in the author’s history. This was I don’t want to say I was surprised by this book because of any negative connotations that may have about predetermined notions of the author, but rather I was approaching for my own reasons of wanting to read a lighter memoir than some of the denser ones I’ve approached recently. So I say surprised because it wasn’t light at all. It was rich, had tangles, did in fact have emotional density, and was punctuated with delightful recipes that coincided with moments in the author’s history. This was in no way the most stunning memoir I’ve read but I was glad that I abandoned my search for something lighter and took on what was honestly a bit dark, but in every way satiating. It was culturally relevant and also provided a great commentary on global standards of beauty, as well as East vs. West identity struggles. My one disclaimer is that if you are reading this because you are a fan of Top Chef and want more background info, it is hardly mentioned, and for me that made it all stronger. This is a wonderfully executed work about a very complex life - definitely a worthy read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julia Coney

    I was waiting for Padma to write a book because I was a fan of her cookbooks. This memoir of love and loss resonated in ways with me I didn't expect. Her relationship with Salman moved me and her story of finally being able to be mom had me overjoyed with happiness. I was waiting for Padma to write a book because I was a fan of her cookbooks. This memoir of love and loss resonated in ways with me I didn't expect. Her relationship with Salman moved me and her story of finally being able to be mom had me overjoyed with happiness.

  23. 4 out of 5

    SUSAN *Nevertheless,she persisted*

    I will finish this book in the near future. Very well written and enjoyable but I must finish a pile of library books that are holding me hostage.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    I was totally not expecting to love this book as much as I did. I came to this entirely from a perspective of only knowing Padma from Top Chef. I had no idea she was a writer, a model, co-founder of a foundation, or any of the multiple things this fabulous woman is. I was not expecting this book to be so completely feminist, both in it's frank discussion of the way women are treated in not only India but here in the United States, and to her memories of her mother, her grandmother, and the count I was totally not expecting to love this book as much as I did. I came to this entirely from a perspective of only knowing Padma from Top Chef. I had no idea she was a writer, a model, co-founder of a foundation, or any of the multiple things this fabulous woman is. I was not expecting this book to be so completely feminist, both in it's frank discussion of the way women are treated in not only India but here in the United States, and to her memories of her mother, her grandmother, and the countless women that surrounded her throughout her childhood and adult life. It is full of women, all having equal amounts of strengths and weaknesses. All of them bringing their lives together and closing that circle of influence around her. I was not expecting her to be so open about her personal struggles with her physical and mental health. I noticed a lot of people in their own reviews saying she seems to feel sorry for herself and needs to buck up and deal with it, because she is a beautiful, rich celebrity. Clearly, these same people also have no idea how depression (or mental health as a whole) works. But above all, I was definitely not expecting her to be such a talented writer. Maybe I am just coming off of a weekend where I both finished this on Sunday morning after watching Beyonce drop "Lemonade" the night before, but damn. This book was quietly incredible and all of my lady friends need to pick it up.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ronya

    I love Top Chef and always watch Padma with a bit of awe. I was so excited to read this. I should have kept what I knew about her limited to what I saw on screen and tabloid fodder. This book made me not like her. She speaks of her privileged life with a certain detachment. Sure, she had to and has worked hard but so much was handed to her and I'm not sure she fully appreciates that. At times she was whiny, which is especially irritating when one whines about situations brought upon one's self. I love Top Chef and always watch Padma with a bit of awe. I was so excited to read this. I should have kept what I knew about her limited to what I saw on screen and tabloid fodder. This book made me not like her. She speaks of her privileged life with a certain detachment. Sure, she had to and has worked hard but so much was handed to her and I'm not sure she fully appreciates that. At times she was whiny, which is especially irritating when one whines about situations brought upon one's self. Waaah, I love two handsome, wealthy men and I don't know what to do. Wwaaah, I don't know who the father of my child is. Circumstances that, I'm sure, were included to make her more relatable actually succeeded in achieving the opposite.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    This book is one giant humblebrag. "I never got my bachelor's degree because I was too busy modelling in Europe." "A famous writer fell in love with me even though he was married." "Then a billionaire who used to date Princess Diana fell in love with me even though I was married." "I didn't really know anything about food but I wrote two cookbooks anyway." This book is one giant humblebrag. "I never got my bachelor's degree because I was too busy modelling in Europe." "A famous writer fell in love with me even though he was married." "Then a billionaire who used to date Princess Diana fell in love with me even though I was married." "I didn't really know anything about food but I wrote two cookbooks anyway."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anita Wills

    Ok. Could be a 2.5 or 3. Interesting to me because of her references to the specific parts of India that might my family is from. Writing was hard to stick with in the middle. It was also hard for me to find her likeable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Freda Mans-Labianca

    What a story, and what a life! I am a fan of Top Chef and have watched Padma on it since I first started watching. I always wondered what her claim to fame was, and her memoir definitely fills us in and more. I was blown away by some of the stuff I learned about her, and am even more in awe of her. She's not just beautiful, but she's smart, a good mother and human being in general. Plus there is recipes in this book that she so graciously shares with us. One of them is her childhood favorite, Chil What a story, and what a life! I am a fan of Top Chef and have watched Padma on it since I first started watching. I always wondered what her claim to fame was, and her memoir definitely fills us in and more. I was blown away by some of the stuff I learned about her, and am even more in awe of her. She's not just beautiful, but she's smart, a good mother and human being in general. Plus there is recipes in this book that she so graciously shares with us. One of them is her childhood favorite, Chili Cheese Toast. I can't wait to try it! Yeah, I'm a bigger fan now. I want to track down her cookbooks now too. Recipes that are indulgent without the fat, basically. I'm intrigued. Fans of the show Top Chef, or not, you will like her life story. I'd bet on it. She is simply fascinating.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I should know better than to read reviews of a memoir in advance of reading the book myself, as so many reviews end up as judgments of the author and less so the actual book. This will not be that sort of review. I maintain that a memoir is the thoughts and experiences of the author laid bare, and that is not mine about which to convey opinions. I am more interested in critiquing the construct of the book, not Padma herself. What I enjoyed about Love, Loss, and What We Ate: The tone - Padma's I should know better than to read reviews of a memoir in advance of reading the book myself, as so many reviews end up as judgments of the author and less so the actual book. This will not be that sort of review. I maintain that a memoir is the thoughts and experiences of the author laid bare, and that is not mine about which to convey opinions. I am more interested in critiquing the construct of the book, not Padma herself. What I enjoyed about Love, Loss, and What We Ate: The tone - Padma's telling of her story is very conversational. It flowed, sometimes wandering off on a tangent, but remaining friendly and open throughout. Its honesty - There is no sugar coating. Padma has flaws, but she exposes them as honestly as anyone could. Better than many, I suspect, as she admits them openly and confronts them head on, where it is often easier to make excuses and pretend we're better than that. It is often difficult to see our own shortcomings rationally and in their entirety, so there are places where she is offering only her interpretation of the events. Then again, this is her story and not the viewpoint of anyone else. But she does not cover her poorer decisions in a concealing veneer or gloss them over in justification. She made choices she wishes had maybe been different in hindsight, times she had been selfish and people she hurt along the way -- anyone thinking they have not done the same, they are deluding themselves and are probably in need of some good soul-searching. I respect the way she put some of her worst moments into print. I was not sure I saw much effort at using these low points to make herself a better person, but then, toward the end, she was. Like any of us, life grows us in some harsh and unforgiving ways. Celebrity and beauty do not make life any kinder. The well-chosen title - This book truly is about many sources of love, many types of loss, and of course food! But the role of food is not always what you'd expect. It isn't all Michelin-star restaurants and Judges' Table. Her openness about her endometriosis - So often, we suffer parts of life in silence and isolation. These are often occasions when the comfort of having someone say a simple "me too" can go miles in making these uncomfortable parts of life more bearable. They may even be the catalyst for making those parts of life better. Cultural education - The contrast in cultures between the United States and India, learning about a culture to which I have little personal exposure, the opportunity to picture a celebrity in an environment vastly different from the lush Top Chef settings, all made this book an enjoyable geographic mini lesson. A better understanding of Padma's commentary on Top Chef - I love gaining some insight into some of the flavors and nuances of the culinary world that Padma critiques on the show. Having a feel for the things she looks for and why, what her palate especially wakes up for, why a particular dish speaks to her beyond its cooking techniques, these are all valuable tidbits that I will watch for in the future. So much description - This may be a turnoff for some people but I am the sort who loves to picture what I'm reading in my mind's eye, making this a treat to read and imagine so much color and a variety of places I will likely never go. A new perspective - I understood long before reading this or any other book that celebrities suffer the same heartbreaks of life as "the rest of us," but I never really appreciated before now what it takes to stay on-camera and give no hint that your life is falling around you. That made my heart hurt for her, but it will always make me wonder now what hard parts of real life we aren't privy to or considering when a smile dazzles on-screen. What I didn't care for: It could have used better proofreading - While its occasional field trips down a side path were part of the conversational charm of this book, there was also a feeling of not knowing exactly "when" we were in a particular timeline. That left her recounting of events feeling disjointed at times which was mildly jarring. The fashion portion of the book - I understand this was a large portion of Padma's life and a defining chapter in who she is. The modeling and fashion industry, though, holds very little appeal to me personally, so those portions of the book read a little slow for me. This was made up for by the parts about behind-the-scenes on Top Chef (though make no mistake, she does not dish up dirt or gossip about the show at all, which I wasn't interested in anyway). There really was much to enjoy about Padma's book. I was pleased that, despite the trepidation I felt after reading some other reviews, my anticipation was rewarded. I relished the perspectives Padma shared. Is it self-centered? It's a memoir. How could it be anything but? Does Padma come across as likable or sympathetic? At times, yes, on both counts. But being human, like each of us, there are also times she does not, and she is brave to open the door to anyone to see some of them, something I'm not sure many of us are interested in enduring in a world quick to cast a judging eye and tongue. I appreciated the opportunity to see the more private, intimate side of a person to whom I have had only a one-dimensional view from many years of watching seasons of Top Chef, as well as the times it gave me pause to examine myself in light of something she shared of herself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    Surprisingly enjoyable (wow does Salman Rushdie come off like a dick) and engrossing; made me want to be friends with Padma based on the Helmut Newton nude shoot anecdote alone. Perfect vacation read.

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