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Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
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Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  6,276 ratings  ·  746 reviews
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
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Ecco (first published August 15th 2013)
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3.48  · 
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 ·  6,276 ratings  ·  746 reviews

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May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Diane Yannick
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Tara Scott
Mar 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
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.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
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?
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.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jonna Rubin
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.

John Brucker
Mar 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Sorry. Boring. Boring. Poorly written. Boring.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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.
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
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.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
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. ...more
Karen Foster
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Julia Coney
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
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 ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Anna Nelson
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-2016
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.
Anita Wills
May 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Zoe's Human
This book has probably been the surprise book of 2018. I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting. While Padma talks some of her modeling and television career, she talks mainly of her personal experience—as an immigrant, as a woman, as a lover, and as a mother. I learned quite a bit about southern Indian food and endometriosis. Most appealing of all is how honestly she addressed her own flaws and errors.

There was some stuff in it about fashion and jewelry that was of little interest to me; howe
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Freda Mans-Labianca
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food, 2016
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.
Jan 15, 2019 marked it as maybe
sooo came across a review which discusses the inherent casteism in this book and yikes, tbh. I know Indian diaspora is mostly trash when it comes to caste-related issues but coming from her????

So when a shockingly problematic streak shows up about a third of the way through the book, the reader who has rooted for her all along stumbles. The first trace of trouble is when Lakshmi extends her experience of racial discrimination as an immigrant schoolchild to her country of origin. For her to say
I loved the first half of this book, not just for the dish on her relationship with Salman Rushdie, but for the story of a childhood straddling two continents and a young adulthood full of further adventures. The second half of the book dragged and dragged. At first I thought it was because the topics (her love triangle with Adam Dell and Teddy Forstmann, her pregnancy and childbirth, a custody battle, Forstmann's illness and death) were less interesting to me personally. But I think the first h ...more
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“In the morning stillness, when the world is just waking up and your conscious mind hasn't fully taken over, you may feel a connection or passageway to another world, and a feeling that something is about to happen in yours. It's like a quiet storm is coming. You can feel the distant rumble of thunder on the horizon, yet you have no idea of the deluge your life is about to experience.” 7 likes
“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.” 4 likes
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