In the 324-page memoir, “Love, Loss and What We Ate,” Padma Lakshmi opens a window into her life, weaving together stories from her childhood, her love affairs and her work through the lens of the culinary experiences that eventually shaped her fame. The book appears to spare little, delving deeply into personal details about uncertainty over paternity during her pregnancy, the pain of a custody case and her efforts to overcome the insecurity she felt being Indian.
Lakshmi particularly highlights her high-profile relationship with author Salman Rushdie, which was overshadowed by a fatwa, or religious edict, that had been issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s former supreme leader. It called for Rushdie to be put to death for his supposedly blasphemous book “The Satanic Verses.”
The two met at a party in New York in 1999, when he was married and she was an aspiring model and actress. They shared a high-profile love affair and then a marriage. But health and professional tensions frayed their relationship.
Lakshmi suffered from endometriosis, a painful uterine disorder in which tissue grows outside the organ. The struggles of dealing with it – she had extensive surgery – upended their sex life and contributed to the demise of their marriage, she writes. Lakshmi said Rushdie was insensitive to her medical condition and at one point called her “a bad investment,” even as she tried to recuperate.