Top model-turned-Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, in her new memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate, serves up a hot, steaming dish about her ex-husband author Salman Rushdie.
In a New York Daily News report, she recalls her years with the author as “a once beautiful meal that ultimately left her with mood poisoning.”
Lakshmi was 28, single and a struggling model-actress when she met Rushdie in 1999 at a party, who at the time was 51 and married to his third wife, according to the New York Daily News, which obtained an early copy of her memoir.
They were wed in 2004, and divorced three years later.
The cover of Lakshmi’s new memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate. (Twitter)
She has recounted the details of her marriage with the novelist, who she said once denounced her as a ‘bad investment’ after she rejected his sexual advances.
The ever-demanding Rushdie needed constant care and feeding — not to mention frequent sex, according to the book. In her memoir about food, family, survival and triumph, the 45-year-old recalls how Rushdie was even insensitive to a medical condition that made intercourse painful for her.
When her undiagnosed endometriosis diminished Lakshmi’s sex drive, the unsympathetic Rushdie became furious that she was unavailable for the fevered, urgent intimacy they’d once enjoyed, according to the book.
After Rushdie left his wife, their next few years were idyllic. The couple lived half the year in London to be close to his two sons. In Manhattan, they restored his townhouse to Gilded Age glory. Their romance began when Rushdie was already a global symbol of free speech after the Muslim backlash against his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.
Top model-turned-Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, in her new memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate, serves up a hot, steaming dish about her ex-husband author Salman Rushdie. (Twitter)
According to the book, when Lakshmi said no to sex because of her endometriosis pain, the author would reply, “How convenient.” Their arguments escalated, with Rushdie as “lethally eloquent” in battle as in print.
For one thing, her career was taking off. She had already appeared in two TV shows. Newsweek then put her on the cover illustrating a story about the New India.
“The only time Newsweek put me on their cover was when someone was trying to put a bullet in my head,” came Rushdie’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction.
Lakshmi became comfortable with his friends, “literary giants” like Susan Sontag and Don DeLillo, by preparing feasts for them. At parties, people would breathlessly ask what it was like to live with a man so brilliant.
Padma Lakshmi has recounted the details of her marriage with the novelist, who she said once denounced her as a ‘bad investment’ after she rejected his sexual advances. (Twitter)
It was blissful, she writes. And then it wasn’t.
The book spoke about how each year when the Nobel Prize went to another writer, Rushdie took it hard. Lakshmi would console him.
Then came her medical condition, which took too long to properly diagnose. Eventually, Lakshmi would undergo more than one surgery to treat her severe ailment.
According to Lakshmi, Rushdie appeared more worried about himself.
Padma Lakshmi is frequently seen out with Krishna Thea Lakshmi-Dell, her daughter with her ex, Adam Dell. (Twitter)
Rushdie was often away. After one five-hour surgery, Lakshmi came home with stitches in four major organs and stents in both kidneys. Rushdie left the next day for a trip.
“The show must go on, after all,” he said on this way out the door, according to Lakshmi.
Lakshmi’s first post-op trip out of the house was to a divorce lawyer.
Here are some of the other highlights from the book:
On being a super-taster..
From my earliest childhood memories I can remember being in the kitchen, and my grandmother and my aunts and my older cousins, and my mother, certainly, all taught me about food. I only found out recently from a scientist in Seattle at the Science Museum that I am a supertaster, and I never knew that was actually a thing ... I bring it up because from a very early age, I was always very curious about eating foods that normally toddlers don’t eat. Very sour things like mango and tamarind, very bitter things like fermented foods or certain Asian vegetables. And you know, you don’t really give a bowl of fiery indian pickles to a 2-year-old! And yet I was climbing up on my grandmother’s shelves in the kitchen like a monkey, sort of like a temple monkey, to try and get at the pickle jars ... I think my young palate needed that stimulation.
On coming to America at the age of 4 and eating nothing but rice...
I was very used to a lacto-vegetarian Hindu Brahmin diet, and so I found it hard to eat American foods. So we would have to seek out restaurants that had rice — whether it was a Chinese restaurant or a Mexican restaurant, or whatever. And luckily we lived in New York City, and I experienced the city through my palate, and it was an exciting place to grow up as a child. It gave me great independence, but it also allowed me to really experience a lot of the world in a much less sheltered way than I would if I was living anywhere else.
On how Top Chef has changed the way she cooks and eats...
Getting to rub shoulders with all of these great chefs, from Thomas Keller to Daniel Boulud to Jacques Pepin and on and on, it does inform my thinking about food — I mean, how could it not? But our show is really about professional chefs who command a kitchen that puts out 200 plates of food that are all different, and hot, and come out at the same time. But, you know, it has informed me immensely. I would consider myself a culinary spelunker, and I love nothing more than to go to a new town or city, and discover that city through its food.
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