Indian American model and television personality Padma Lakshmi has written a revealing autobiography, which includes intimate details of her failed marriage to celebrated author Salman Rushdie. Laxmi, 45, one of the judges on the television show “Top Chef,” chronicles details of her relationship with the Mumbai-born Booker Prize-winning author in her memoir “Love, Loss and What We Ate.” “I just wanted my own identity. I was making the transition out of one stage of my life and into another. But in order to do that, it required that I wasn’t everywhere that he (Rushdie) needed me to be,” she told People magazine.
“Love, Loss And What We Ate,” a memoir by Padma Lakshmi, who became a celebrity in her own right since she divorced Rushdie in 2007 after a three-year marriage, was quoted in the media saying the memoir started off as a book about health and healthy eating using her own life as an example, instead ended up as a reflection on “love and heartbreak” – spanning her tumultuous affair and marriage to Rushdie, the painful break up, to finding love again with billionaire Teddy Forstmann, who died three years ago.
A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera. Long before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we eat is an extension of how we love, how we comfort, how we forge a sense of home—and how we taste the world as we navigate our way through it. Shuttling between continents as a child, she lived a life of dislocation that would become habit as an adult, never quite at home in the world. And yet, through all her travels, her favorite food remained the simple rice she first ate sitting on the cool floor of her grandmother’s kitchen in South India.
Poignant and surprising, Love, Loss, and What We Ate is Lakshmi’s extraordinary account of her journey from that humble kitchen, ruled by ferocious and unforgettable women, to the judges’ table of Top Chef and beyond. It chronicles the fierce devotion of the remarkable people who shaped her along the way, from her headstrong mother who flouted conservative Indian convention to make a life in New York, to her Brahmin grandfather—a brilliant engineer with an irrepressible sweet tooth—to the man seemingly wrong for her in every way who proved to be her truest ally. A memoir rich with sensual prose and punctuated with evocative recipes, it is alive with the scents, tastes, and textures of a life that spans complex geographies both internal and external.
The memoir also details her relationship and bitter split with venture capitalist Adam Dell, who is the father of her daughter that she conceived when she was still with Forstmann. All this, of course, is not very new as the tabloids over the years had several exposes on the three-way relationship. What’s new, steamy and dark in the memoir is all about the author of “The Moor’s Last Sigh” and “The Satanic Verses.”
The Indian-American model and the host of the popular Top Chef was 28 when she started an affair with the married 51-year-old writer. A report in the Daily News said “the pair first met in 1999 at a party. On their first real date — Rushdie initially wooed her by phone since she lived in Los Angeles — the pair fell into bed.” The report quotes her memoir saying, “at 3 a.m., I woke with a start. I’m naked in a married man’s bed.”
The two married after Rushdie divorced his third wife. While their early years were full of passion (Lakshmi, reportedly, alludes to great sex and great food) things began to sour as she focused on her career, a report in the People magazine said. “I just wanted my own identity,” the report quotes her saying. “I was making the transition out of one stage of my life and into another. But in order to do that, it required that I wasn’t everywhere that he (Rushdie) needed me to be.”
Gleaning from the reports, their relationship strained at two levels – professional and personal. Lakshmi bitches about how Rushdie had to be consoled each year when he didn’t win a Nobel Prize, even as she describes how disappointed she was at his disinterest in her career and success.
At the personal level, things had deteriorated when Lakshmi could not keep up with Rushdie’s sexual demands because of a condition that was much later diagnosed as endometriosis, which caused chronic pain. “It’s not that I didn’t want to be there for him, but something was very deeply wrong … And I didn’t understand it. And that caused a whole lot of misunderstanding,” Lakshmi says in her memoir.mAccording to the Telegraph, Lakshmi accuses Rushdie of describing her as “a bad investment” after she refused his sexual advances, and paints him as a cold and heartless husband.
The last straw was when after one five-hour surgery, Lakshmi returns 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 apparently told Lakshmi, on his way out the door. Next time she stepped out of the house, Lakshmi went to see a divorce lawyer. She writes about how at first their marriage was blissful, and Rushdie used to make breakfast for her every morning. But the book then goes on to paint a portrait of a demanding husband in need of constant attention. Lakshmi claims Rushdie was insensitive to a medical condition. Lakshmi later divorced Rushdie in 2007 and went on to become involved with Ted Forstmann, the billionaire chief executive of sports and artist management company IMG, who died in 2011 at age 71. She has a six-year-old daughter with venture capitalist Adam Dell.
New York-based Rushdie, 68, has not responded to his ex-wife’s claims so far. Shortly after his marriage to Lakshmi ended, Rushdie had said, “It’s strange, given that I’ve been married four times, but I actually don’t think marriage is necessary.” “Girls like it, especially if they’ve never been married before. It’s the dress. Girls want a wedding; they don’t want a marriage. If only you could have weddings without marriages,” Rushdie had said. Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate and unexpected story of food and family—both the ones we are born to and the ones we create—and their enduring legacies.