Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi TV Poster Image
Lovely series explores varied food culture of America.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show aims to boost the visibility of immigrants and the way their cuisine has contributed to America as a whole. The focus is on finding common ground through food.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The series examines cooking methods and ingredients from a wide range of immigrant communities including Peruvian, Japanese, German, Persian, Chinese, Thai, and Native American. The host herself is an Indian immigrant and a successful TV personality and cookbook author.

Violence
Sex
Language

Some mild swearing, words like "s--t" and "hell."

Consumerism

BMW is a sponsor and there are gorgeous shots of the host driving a fancy car. They're brief, however.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults occasionally drink alcoholic beverages.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi explores food history and politics in America, with archival photos and footage occasionally being shown to help illustrate the points being discussed. Issues like immigration and slavery are touched on, and there are occasional four-letter words ("s--t," "hell"). The series is sponsored by BMW and there are commercial-worthy shots of the interior and exterior of Lakshmi's ride as she tools around the country.

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What's the story?

TASTE THE NATION WITH PADMA LAKSHMI is a ten-episode Hulu series wherein the Top Chef host and cookbook author explores the way America's rich and varied immigrant population has influenced our cuisine. Lakshmi traverses the country talking to and cooking alongside a host of ethnically diverse folks, delving into the cultural significance of their various foods.

Is it any good?

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 ChefTaste 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of the United States as a "melting pot" and what that entails. What do you think of as "American" food?

  • Talk about the foods and cooking methods shown on Taste the Nation. Are there any dishes you saw on the show you'd like to try? Any you'd be scared to try? What are some foods that are specific to your own culture or ethnicity?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cooking

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