I’m feeling like a rock star. Well, not really, but I am feeling kinda special. Two of my Facebook and Instagram posts garnered a lot (for me) of “likes” and comments. I even got a text from an out-of-state cousin’s girlfriend.
Last night I went to an author event at the Barnes and Noble located in Union Square. The author was Padma Lakshmi for her new memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate. I know of Lakshmi and I like her, but I was more excited to see Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen act as the moderator. I read both his books, Most Talkative and The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year. Not to mention, I follow him on social media and watch him nightly on his half hour talk show Watch What Happens Live.
By allowing myself to fan out, I broke my rule (been doing that a lot lately) of not purchasing hard cover books. I prefer to wait for the paperback version for carrying convenience and pricing. B&N gives priority seating to people who have purchased the book (they check the receipt), so I bought a copy. It was a measly 20% off. I was expecting 30% or 40%. But I got a cool purple wristband like they hand out at 21 and over clubs.
This is not a book review. That will come later. The book was just released yesterday, March 8, 2016. I purchased it last night. As much as I love to read, I’m not that quick. I have an annoying full-time job that cuts into my reading time.
Based on the questions Cohen asked Lakshmi about her memoir, it promises to be a page turner. Cohen barely sat down when he declared he his love for it because she dishes on some good dirt, unlike other memoirs. “There are a lot of crappy memoirs out there.”
I attended the event only knowing that Lakshmi is a judge on the cooking contestant show, Top Chef, so I was totally surprised to learn that she’d been married to Salman Rushdie. I don’t know what I was expecting, but not that. I wasn’t surprised to hear she was a former model or that she had authored cookbooks. She’s stunning, and she’s a judge for cooking show. Even in a simple red and black striped shirt, jeans and messy ponytail last night she looked great.
During the discussion, Lakshmi touched upon growing up as a latchkey kid in the Upper East Side of New York and spending summers in India because her mother didn’t want her to lose her culture. She talked about not being allowed to speak to the Top Chef contestants if the cameras aren’t rolling, and confessed to being a total omnivore though she grew up vegetarian. To keep in shape she runs up and down the stairs of the hotels while shooting on location, but also packs ankle weights and a jumprope. It’s not uncommon for the crew to see her doing push-ups in between taping segments.
In between segments is when Lakshmi was served papers on-set on behalf of her ex-boyfriend, who was seeking full custody of their daughter. Not discussed last night, but what’s being mentioned in a lot of today’s media coverage is that at the time of her pregnancy, Lakshmi wasn’t sure who the father was. She was openly dating two men. One an older billionaire, the other the brother of the founder of Dell Computer. Thanks to Cohen’s comments last night, I know that they had an awful breakup, but they’re on better terms now. I’m sure it’ll be in the memoir.
For whatever foolish reason, I’m excited about attending last night’s book event and being ahead of the curve before this blow up of media coverage. I smugly think that people are now going to run out and get the book, meanwhile, I got it on the day it was released (though admittedly not pure reasons). Online and on TV I’ve seen coverage from The Wendy Show, Access Hollywood, People.com, and The Today Show. She’s all over the place doing publicity, as she should be, but last night, on the top floor of a bookstore along with dozens of other people, I was in her presence to get a preview of the book in person.
I love memoirs, but I was wondering if my tight budget could afford such an “extravagant” purchase. $23.51 could buy more than a week’s worth of eggs, cheese, cashew milk, hummus and Greek yogurt. Perhaps I would return the book after the event to get a refund, but I was intrigued enough not only to keep it, but to wait in line to get my copy autographed. Bonus: I snagged a picture with Padma Lakshmi.
While awaiting my turn, I started the book, even though I have more than 200 pages left of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah is fiction, but both books touch upon what it’s like to be “brown in a white culture” as Lakshmi put it last night. She said she wanted to write a frank book about race, endometriosis, being a woman in media whose appearance is often picked apart and a range of other topics.
Less than ten pages into the book, she divulges that her relationship with Rushdie began with her being his mistress. I was so in! But I was already in when an Indian girl in the audience asked Lakshmi for advice “for a fellow brown girl trying to make it” and Lakshmi told her to be proud of her color, who she is and to love herself. (I thanked her for her answer when I met her). I didn’t think a memoir from a reality TV food judge would be empowering, but I think I’m wrong. For that reason I can’t wait to dig in.