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Padma eventually migrated across Europe, settling in for a 6-year stint in Milan, where her modeling career exploded. In her mother-in-law-to-be's kitchen, she learned the exacting rules of traditional Italian cooking."I learned how to make polenta, , a lusty braise of bacon-wrapped beef brisket and hearty red wine. "It's my one true love." I doubt she means that literally, but given the way she intones the declaration, I can't be sure.Fourth Course: Scotch and Scrambled Eggs The innocent days in Europe eventually came to an end. "I was really young, and I needed a clean break." Things happened fast for Padma back in the United States. It was in these high-flying times that she met her husband-to-be, the Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie.The "beauty and the brain" story that emerged was too perfect for the paparazzi to ignore: A man whose prowess with a pen is so absolute and penetrating that it inspires a death sentence from the then – supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, meets a woman whose looks are so stunning as to melt the heart of the cruelest dictator. Lady Lakshmi dinner parties became events of lore, with guests from the art, entertainment, and food world gathering around her exotic creations: Moroccan curried chicken pie, baked figs, rose-petal-and-pistachio ice cream.Her new cookbook, , largely reflects those early, heady times spent in the kitchen -- from cauliflower roasted with a pinch of anise seed to crusty pita chips dusted with sumac powder."You can have very simple food with those light, subtle brushstrokes of flavor," she says, recalling her childhood, "and your cooking can have a delicacy and a very sophisticated quality without being fussy." But when she shuttled back to New York, the smells and tastes of her motherland didn't win her any friends.
So now I have a mission, which I undertake for the benefit of mankind: to find out what to feed an exotic creature like Padma.
After all, she may be one of the greatest catches of the new millennium.
Padma speaks five languages and has lived and worked in more countries than most people can pick out on a map.
"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.