ELLE Book Club

Book of the week: Love, Loss, And What We Ate: A Memoir

Padma Lakshmi opens up on diets, disease and Rushdie

CliffsNotes: The memoir offers an intimate look at multi-hyphenate Padma Lakshmi’s life – from her immigrant childhood in the United States to her stormy marriage to author Salman Rushdie, and her long-drawn battle with endometriosis. The Top Chef host narrates her story with a startling honesty, and routinely layers personal experience with good food advice. “[The initial idea for the book] was to use the details of my own life to illustrate my philosophy on food. Which is, in a nutshell, not one diet is right for everyone and not the same diet is appropriate for the same person at different points in his or her life. To illustrate this I talk about different periods in my life, when I needed different things,” she says.

Get a taste: The book has renewed interest in the Rushdie-Lakshmi split for its unsparing account of their relationship:

"My years with author Salman Rushdie are as a once beautiful meal that ultimately left me with mood poisoning"

"Salman Rushdie needed consoling every year he did not win the Nobel Prize for Literature"

Author 101: Lakshmi was born in Chennai, and moved to the United States with her newly-divorced mother when she was two. One of the first Indian supermodels to hit international runways, she briefly ventured into acting with films like Boom and The Mistress Of Spices. Since 2006, the 45-year-old has hosted the Emmy-winning show Top Chef and authored two cookbooks, Easy Exotic and Tangy, Tart, Hot And Sweet. She’s also co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2009 to raise awareness about the disease. Lakshmi now lives in New York with her six-year-old daughter Krishna. 

Fun fact: On her earliest memory of food, Lakshmi says, "The first thing I ever made in my life was in my grandmother's kitchen. I think it was chilly cheese toast on a square pie iron, we didn’t have ovens then. I remember making muruku or making grape juice by the barrel-full. Even before it was my profession, food was a big part of my life. I always remember everything I ate, and everything I wore on any given day. 

Similar reads: Heartburn by Nora Ephron; Licking The Spoon: A Memoir Of Food, Family And Identity by Candace Walsh

Love, Loss And What We Ate (HarperCollins India) is out next month