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In American classrooms, Padma was that exotic girl with the weird lunches."Being from India wasn't that cool when I was young," she recalls.She didn't have her first bite of meat until seventh grade."My mom would make me drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk a day for protein," she says.
"Guys don't cook for me," she'll tell you, with the dejected look of a little girl who just lost her puppy to a fur trader.
Watching Padma Lakshmi as she prepares to go before a camera lens is like observing the composition of a signature dish at a fine restaurant.
Many hands are involved, each one assigned to an unthinkably small task of extreme precision.
"All of the action of the house was in the kitchen," she notes.
"All the decisions were made there, all the family secrets revealed." It was in that kitchen, where sights and sounds of cooking seasoned every major event, that Padma fell in love with food.