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Padma Lakshmi explores food of immigrants in new Hulu docu-series

New York: In a new Hulu documentary series Taste the Nation, a longtime judge of Bravo’s Top Chef Padma Lakshmi celebrates the food of American immigrants and indigenous people.

“I am an immigrant. And I was just disgusted the way immigrants had been used as a pawn for political gain and been discriminated against so grossly by this administration. I guess this show is my rebuttal to that,” she says.

Taste the Nation sees Lakshmi go to the Texas border city of El Paso and talk to locals about the wall. She goes to South Carolina to go crabbing and explore Gullah Geechee food. She goes to Las Vegas to spend time with Thai immigrants and to Arizona to forage for Native American ingredients.

Lakshmi, an Indian American who came to America when she was 4, tells viewers at the top of each episode: “I want to explore who we are through the food we eat. What makes us American?”

There’s discussion of immigration, global warming, massacres, cultural stereotypes and racism. It’s a departure from most food shows, which avoid partisan politics or current events for fear of alienating viewers or piercing the safe cooking bubble.

“I wouldn’t even say that I was a very political person a few years ago, but I have out of necessity and anger and frustration, and become very vocal,” Lakshmi said.

“I’m not interested in food in a vacuum. I’m interested in the cultural and emotional connection that people have to food. And I’m not just interested in the food: I’m interested in the hand that makes the food.”

During each episode, Lakshmi consults with community leaders, food experts and leading lights. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara talks about being bullied as a kid. Lakshmi and Indian actress and food authority Madhur Jaffrey make Lemony Chicken with Coriander.

“I just wanted to show the humanity of these people who live in our country, who have built our country and show that they’re not something to be afraid of,” she said. “They’re not dirty. They’re not criminals. They’re not going to threaten our jobs.”

Sarina Roma, executive producer and co-director, said the show represents a lot of what Lakshmi cares about in her personal life. “It all comes from a place of genuine curiosity. It’s very reflective of who she is as a person.”

Roma added that the show illustrates food can be political: “We’ve tasted food from all over the world, but when you actually stop and think about how that food got here, it tells a much larger story of America.” (Source: First Post)

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