Parents' Guide to

Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi

By Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Lovely series explores varied food culture of America.

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With a host who's a woman of color and an immigrant, this series brings a new perspective that similar shows lack. Taste the Nation follows a familiar format (Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown may be its closest analog) but In recent years, Lakshmi has become almost equally famous for her outspoken views on politics as she is for her appearances on shows like Top Chef. Taste the Nation definitely digs into some of the issues she tends to discuss on social media and in her activism work -- only, not too deeply.

The show does a lovely job portraying the humanity and individuality of immigrant life and how what we think of as "American" cuisine has been shaped by the very different people who make up our population. Yet it's also not equipped to scratch beneath the surface, as in the episode on border life in El Paso, Texas. Lakshmi interviews the cooks at a popular diner there, many of whom spend hours per day crossing the border from sister city Juárez, Mexico to come to work. The diner is owned by a conservative Syrian man who says he grew up loving Mexican culture and people but that he also supports Donald Trump, even as he admits the government's border policies pose a threat to the lives and livelihoods of his employees and friends. A 32-minute show mainly focused on showcasing delicious foods just doesn't have the breadth of space or the nuance to fully explore these kinds of issues, but the way the series amplifies the creativity and culture of immigrants is still a very bold step in the right direction.

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