Something that seems pretty elusive right now is travel. Our ability to explore corners of the world, let alone our own country, have been cut-off by the global pandemic. That’s why shows like Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi are so entertaining. They give you the chance to see and explore from the safety of your home. But unlike most travel shows, this one is guaranteed to make you starving.
The series explores what it means to be American through the cultural cuisines that define us. When a diner claims to be American, what does that even mean? What does American food mean to you? That answer can be very different depending on where you grew up and your family lineage.
Padma Laksmi is the host of Top Chef and the published author of several cookbooks. Fluent in five languages, her ability to relate to the show’s diverse subjects comes across so naturally and never forced. Everything about the show feels authentic and her kind nature and lighthearted personality feels so sincere that you easily get drawn in to the theme of every episode.
The premiere episode takes her to El Paso, TX, for a look at how authentic Mexican cuisine spread around the world. Teaching us that “Culinary experiences are borderless,” the episode also takes a look at the politically charged border control, with helicopters flying overhead constantly monitoring the wall. The burrito is believed to have been created in El Paso, getting its name from the carts they were sold from attached to the backs of a donkey (“Burro” in Spanish).
Not every episode is politically charged and depending on your upbringing, some of them might even take you home. The second episode is set in Milwaukee, WI, about 30-minutes from where I grew up. Starting with the “All-American” hot dog, Padma rides around the city in the Oscar Myer weiner mobile, gets to see “How the sausage gets made,” makes beer with an enthusiast in a garage, and learns about how the identity of German foods disappeared into the landscape of what we consider to be American cuisine.
As Padme travels across the country in this ten episode season, she will explore cultural cuisines both native and imported. From Native American dishes in Arizona and the food of the Gullah people of South Carolina to the rise in popularity of dishes from Indian, Chinese, Persian Peruvian, Thai, and Japanese cultures over time. The captivating host teaches viewers about where some of your favorite foods come from and will make you extremely hungry in the process.
I give Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi 5 out of 5 bites of German Schnitzel.
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi premieres Friday, June 19th, only on Hulu.