In her Hulu series “Taste the Nation”, Padma Lakshmi, former co-star of Top Chef, dives deep into the intersection of food and the diverse tapestry of cultures in America. However, it wasn’t just her love for food that inspired the show; it was the 2016 election and the conversations surrounding border politics that ignited this passion project.
Speaking at the Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees event, Lakshmi shared, “I’m an immigrant myself, and I grew up among various immigrant communities. America’s essence lies in its immigrant heritage and their contributions. With my background working with the ACLU on immigration issues, I wanted to amalgamate my advocacy with my love for food. After all, food has always been a medium where I could best express myself.”
Now in its sophomore season, the show is a gastronomical journey through the U.S., highlighting the foods and the people that have significantly influenced American cuisine. From tasting burritos in El Paso, indulging in pad thai in Las Vegas, to relishing Persian food in Los Angeles, Lakshmi ensures viewers get a rich taste of multicultural America.
The second season started with a political yet entertaining episode where Lakshmi visits Puerto Rico. She introduces viewers to ‘pastilles,’ a local delight, shedding light on the complexities of sourcing ingredients in the region. A significant portion of Puerto Rico’s food comes from imports, but there’s a move among locals to shift this dependency. The episode isn’t just about food; it’s a commentary on the politics of the region.
“Puerto Rico remains America’s last colony. The peculiar political status means its people cannot vote for their representatives in Congress. Yet, they are governed by laws making essentials like food 25% costlier than in the mainland US,” says Lakshmi.
While the series delves into such serious issues, it doesn’t lose its entertaining flair. Lakshmi summarizes her intent, “My goal is to educate viewers about history, showcase the country’s regional diversity, all while making the journey fun and engaging.”
“Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi” is a testament to the power of food in bridging gaps, celebrating diversity, and initiating vital conversations.