Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Padma Lakshmi wants to explore who we are through the food we eat. What exactly is American food? How did we get to where we are today? In the first installment of Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition, “Happy Challah Days”, Lakshmi explores the history of Hanukkah and Jewish American cuisine. We hear from several Jewish New Yorkers who say they wish people didn’t think Hanukkah was the Jewish Christmas and that Judaism feels more cultural than religious. Lakshmi’s first stop in New York is Russ & Daughters, the famous appetizing store perhaps best known for their smoked fish and bagels. Lakshmi helps make latkes with the owners and learns about the history of the store and of this kind of food.
The next stop on her tour is The Pickle Guys, where Lakshmi tries a variety of delicious pickled goods and hears about why pickling was so important to Jewish immigrants. Lakshmi also visits a historic Jewish family apartment, cooks with the minds behind The Gefilteria, a food venture with a goal of sharing Ashkenazi cuisine, and Holocaust survivor Ruth Zimbler, who shares her rich life story (and love of Russ & Daughters). We finish things at the home of Deb Perelman (creator of the beloved blog Smitten Kitchen) and her family, where Lakshmi and her daughter are invited to celebrate Hanukkah (and make a beautiful brisket).
From Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition‘s opening moments, it’s obvious this is going to be a delightful half-hour of television, your favorite comfort meal in TV form. Lakshmi is so easy to watch and listen to, a perfect host for introducing us to various cuisines and individuals. The first installment of this four-part series, “Happy Challah Days”, takes us on a captivating tour of New York, engaging the senses (and taking hold of our hearts) with each new stop. The other episodes in the series explore the stories of the Wampanoag nation and the Thanksgiving narrative, Nochebuena and Cuban traditions, and Lunar New Year in Koreatown, Los Angeles. It’s a refreshing selection of holidays to hone in on, a welcome shake up from the tired stories about Christmas and Thanksgiving we’re used to seeing on food-based series.
What works best about Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition is the series’ commitment to showcasing different takes on a single cuisine, and the acknowledgement that there are many facets to a group of people; we see Hanukkah celebrated with latkes and brisket tacos, stuffed cabbage cooked in traditional Ashkenazi fashion. Good docuseries leave you wanting to learn more, and that’s exactly how I felt by the time “Happy Challah Days” had come to an end; I wanted to look up recipes, understand traditions, and learn more history. Lakshmi seems to have a deeply curious spirit, and it translates so wonderfully on screen. Tasting the nation – and the nation’s holidays – with her help is a truly delectable way to spend an hour or two.