Padma Lakshmi's taste of Jamaica | Lifestyle – Jamaica Gleaner

Former host of Top Chef, model, actress, author and activist, Padma Lakshmi, graced the stage at the Calabash International Literary Festival in St Elizabeth last month to talk all things food and travel with Kei Miller.
The respected food writer, who is now the host of her own series Taste The Nation, minced no words as she spoke candidly about the importance of using her platform to open the minds, hearts, and of course mouths of her viewers to the intricacies of meals from places across the world and the influences behind them.
Taste The Nation is all about letting other people tell me their stories themselves. I think for many of us we have had other people tell our stories and we have not had the chance to tell them ourselves in the way that we like. We go into little towns and interview people there and allow them to show us who they are through the food or even through the craft there,” she shared, as the audience attentively listened.
From Nigerian Cuisine to foods from Afghanistan, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Lakshmi has sampled some of the world’s most popular and unpopular dishes while testing the limits with foods often considered dangerous but are delicacies in some parts of the world. But how did she become so open to it?
“Taste is subjective and is informed by the things you grew up eating, and the only thing you need to grow your palate is to be informed and to listen to those notes of different flavour. There are a set of rules, however, that are empirical. There is a way to cook meat and a way to not cook meat and you know. But in that there is a spectrum. I am a food writer and that is how I approach things. My job is not to teach you how to make a recipe when I am not there with you. At the end of the day, you just want to describe what it is doing,” she shared.
While in Jamaica she indulged in some of the island’s cuisine from fruits, vegetable and ground provisions to the popular jerked chicken and curried goat. But among the delicious foods was one of Jamaica’s favourite – KFC. She bit into the sauced piece of chicken much to the excitement of the crowd before declaring what many Jamaicans have considered a fact.
“That is so good! It certainly is [better than all the KFC barbecue chicken in the world],” she uttered.
Lakshmi intends to continue sharing food experiences to help break down cultural and social barriers as she gives a different perspective on the phrase ‘we are what we eat’, and looks at it from the historical aspects and influences that make up the various dishes people have come to know and love in every part of the world.

aaliyah.cunningham@gleanerjm.com
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