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Padma Opens Up About Her Childhood in India

The 'Top Chef' host reveals what she learned about food across the globe.

Growing up, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi learned a lot from her family about food and cooking. She spent part of her childhood living with her grandparents and extended relatives in India. Now, she's opening up about what her life was like halfway around the world—and how she adapted to life in the U.S.

Padma lived in Chennai, India, a beach town with her relatives, but also grew up with her mother in New York City. "I became used to shuttling back and forth between two homes and cultures, but being the new girl in school all the time wasn't easy," she writes in an essay for the Wall Street Journal.

When she eventually moved to the Big Apple on a more permanent basis in 1979, she "adapted quickly," she notes in the essay.

"In New York, I'd roller-skate all over town," she recalls. "Even though I was vegetarian, I found I had lots of options—pizza and soda for under a dollar, a bagel with a half-pound of cream cheese on it for 50 cents, or a pretzel for a quarter. It was the early '80s and I was pretty independent. Mom cooked spicy vegetarian Indian food at home, which I loved. At my grandmother's house, I'd climb the painted concrete shelves of her pantry to search out the hottest pickles at the top."

Everything I learned in the kitchen I learned from my grandmother or other women in my family.

Padma Lakshmi

In the summers, she would still visit her family in India. "Everything I learned in the kitchen I learned from my grandmother or other women in my family," she adds.

And even now, when she returns to India, she feels like a little kid, she says in the piece.

"I've never lived there as an adult, so I revert to a childlike state whenever I return," she writes. "When I shop, I linger at every stall, and I visit the local Hindu temple and stop off at the beach. This isn't nostalgia. I truly feel at peace there, where no one cares about what I do in the States. In India I'm a nondescript person. They know I live in New York and that I'm famous for something. But they mostly still see a kid in her school uniform running to catch the bus."

[Source: Wall street Journal]

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