How Padma Lakshmi became the Goddess of Food TV


How Padma Lakshmi became the Goddess of Food TV

|Joshua Moyiwa

March 17, 2023

In Padma Lakshmi We Trust, Joshua Moyiwa explores what makes Padma Lakshmi the High Priestess of Food TV.

In every single cooking video on her Instagram feed, Padma Lakshmi finds a way to add butter to the dish. (Everything is better with more butter!) But she reasonably hates the butter bars trend. If that wasn’t enough to actually fall in love with her: she waxes eloquent about her love of chili peppers. She sings the praises of refreshing tamarind teasing. It indicates the saint’s restraint around sweets and desserts. All this is not at all surprising because, true to its name, the lotus flower is multi-petaled, multi-tiered. (Or does she prefer onions? I wonder.) With both, the metaphor lingers. Peeling back every surface reveals her only more substance.

She speaks delicately, and makes her thoughtful stance on the complex and contested ideas of racism in Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. She calls out male writers for being cool and assholes. It can explain in great detail the hand of colonialism in the racial biases of our educational systems. Swinging to hear the title of her first book: Easy Ghorayeb – typical low fat recipes from around the world. You no longer use the word “weird” because it is “evolving”. She wrote an honors thesis on “The Golden Age of Spanish Theater in the Twelfth Century”. She knows the reasons for the pause in a play on Pinter. Even that just looks like a scratch on the first coat.

Over the course of a career spanning more than three decades in the food business, Padma Lakshmi has been on a mission to broaden her viewers and readers’ ideas about food and the cultures that nourish it. She’s not introducing South Indian food—the cuisine I grew up with—to the rest of the world, she’s building connections between diverse cuisines, making it accessible to anyone interested in cooking or just eating. Over 20 years ago, I remember first watching Padma Lakshmi on the Discovery Channel, hosting her first diet show – Planet Food. In the series, she winds her way through the cities of southern India, moving gracefully between small home kitchens and gigantic kitchens inside temples equipped to feed thousands of devotees. While the show was definitely geared towards Western audiences, she didn’t tailor it entirely to their tastes or pleasures, and also pushed them to see something new. Of course, the tasty and familiar biryani is served, but they also go the extra mile to showcase their street food and breakfast items. I still remember the feelings of warmth and pride seeing her walking the streets of Bangalore in this series.

Over the years, tracing her TV show tracks from season to season, and her Instagram Reels tutorial videos, it’s clear that things have changed since those early days. She is now in the driving seat. Her interests guide the conversations she wants to have about food. Its wealth of knowledge does not have to be reduced to meet the needs of any market, instead its audience has grown to be international. It’s not pandering to anyone in Central America; In fact, even with her latest TV show — Hulu’s Taste the Nation — she seems to be embracing the idea of ​​”American food.” Her distinctive intelligence, wit, and openness to learning from global food cultures are trained on immigrant communities in America. In doing so, she seems to reinforce her enduring thesis: that food deconstructs and creates myths about ourselves.

But rest assured, she will never stop evangelizing the ingredients, techniques and dishes from the Indian subcontinent – especially the south. (Thanks to the stars above!) And luckily, she’s not totally delusional in her excitement, either. She famously agrees with us all trying to photograph our plate of comfort food for Instagram likes: Home-cooked Indian food doesn’t photograph well. you know what? We just have to come to terms with it. she has! Even on the rare occasions when she doesn’t try to bring a South Indian ingredient into her recipes, she’s wonderfully represented when she’s on the panel of judges on Top Chef. Remember competitors, she can handle the heat.

Padma Lakshmi is our Beyoncé. Instead of hot sauce in her bag, she got a Ziplock bag of fresh green peppers. Thus, Padma Lakshmi continues to allow us to feel seen in the world. She also reminded us that being Indian can mean being rooted but also caring, intriguing, and engaging with the rest of the world. Sparknotes Release: Padma Lakshmi is so amazing.