Lakshmi’s flirtatious manner, her unquenchable glamour, allow her to Trojan-horse Taste the Nation’s true intentions for viewers who might be expecting a vaguely patriotic travelogue through America’s most iconic meals. What she’s offering instead is one of the most fascinating food series to emerge in recent years: a ruthless indictment of how a nation’s cultural heritage has been constructed out of the people and traditions that it has consistently and brutally rejected.
Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi won’t make anyone forget about Bourdain and his various shows, but it’s well-shot, Lakshmi is a warm and knowledgeable host, and the food she discovers is both comforting and surprising.
It's a series that deftly breaks form from the traditional culinary travelogue again and again. In some food shows, it seems like hosts are stretching to make a political point (or they go out of their way to skirt around it). Lakshmi, instead, confronts it head-on. ... Lakshmi has real presence here.
While Taste The Nation is somewhat slicker in presentation than those shows[Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat, and David Chang’s Ugly Delicious], it benefits from its hyper-focus. ... Lakshmi proves an amiable guide through the episodes, even if her years of hosting have shaven off some of her rough edges.