Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: 2016
Length: 12 hours, 37 minutes
Narrated by: Padma Lakshmi
From the publisher:
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.
This book wasn’t even on my radar until Swapna mentioned on Twitter that she was reading the print edition and loving it. I was just about to finish listening to Martin Short’s memoir so I was kind of in the mood to continue the self-narrated celebrity memoir trend.
We have been fans of Top Chef for years so are quite familiar with Padma Lakshmi. Because of that I was already quite familiar with her voice and figured she’d do a decent job of narrating her own story. She surprised me with actually using voice characterizations for people in her book. Sometimes it was successful and other times it was a bit of a distraction. All in all she’s just fine narrating her own story.
I knew bits and pieces about her life such as she’d been married to Salman Rushdie and that despite a significant scar on her arm from a car accident she’d had success as a model.
What I didn’t know what that before Top Chef, she’d worked as a TV host in Italy and on the Food Network. I also didn’t know about her personal relationships after her divorce from Rushdie and the complicated situation regarding her daughter’s father.
I enjoyed listening to this. It seemed like I was sitting in a comfortable room listening to her tell me the story of her life. She’s had an interesting one that bridges multiple cultures and at times has left her feeling that she doesn’t really fit in any of them.
Her descriptions of food often had me arriving home hungry after listening in the car. The strong family bonds and the passing of food and cooking from generation to generation through the women in her family is wonderful. It really made me think differently about the family recipes of my mother’s that are part of my life to this day.
The audio edition includes a PDF file of the recipes from the print edition. I’m pretty sure I need to try the yogurt rice.
Rating 4/5 for the book
3.5/5 for the narration