When it comes to cooking, repeating the same-old meals is boring, but trying new recipes can be a hit or miss. That's why the concept of "astrological cooking" is so intriguing. Instead of hoping for the best with a new recipe, tuning into the zodiac can help you suss out the foods your body needs, right now. We talked to Monte Farber and Amy Zerner, authors of Signs and Seasons, a new astrological cookbook, about how it works.
Q: Do our zodiac signs really have an impact on what we love to eat?
A: Astrology is grounded in the idea that whatever comes into being at a certain moment in the cycle of the year partakes of the spirit of that phase of it. The recipes in Signs and Seasons were written from the perspective that when the sun is in a certain sign, all individuals, regardless of their dates of birth, share in the characteristics and energy matrix of that stage and season of the cycle.
Rather than try to cater to individual appetites, the sign designations of the recipes in this book refer primarily to the recipes themselves. The seasonality of the ingredients and the method of their preparation reflect certain aspects of the mind-set of that sign.
Q: Does each zodiac sign have a signature meal? Any examples?
A: At its core, astrology is simply an expression of life as an annual cyclical process. The zodiac is a rotating symbol of the seasonal expansion and contraction of the periods of darkness and light. The cycle of the year—its various states of vegetation and animal behavior—offers us what we need to know to be in harmony with the zodiac. What is more Aries than mint, lamb, and asparagus? More Pisces than Flounder Almondine? Seasonal ingredients make spring and summer meals lighter, fall and winter meals more substantial.
For instance, we have Scallops & Couscous for one of the Libra/Autumn dishes. The scallop shell is associated with Venus, the ruler of Libra. Its link to beauty can be seen in Renaissance art, where the goddess is depicted cutting through the waves on a scallop shell. Eating is an art to a Libra. They are the consummate epicures, and their approach to culinary perfection requires that what they eat has to be absolutely garden fresh and also look photo-ready. They avoid unattractive foods. Their love of beauty means that packaging and presentation make a difference to them, whether they are ordering simple refreshments or continuing their search for the ultimate in fine dining.
Then, toward the end of October, the days shrink and darken. The nights lengthen. The cold creeps in. The trees are bare. The energy shifts from Libra and Venus to Scorpio and Pluto, whose deep, primal needs assert themselves. The Scorpio phase is about what’s going on in our guts, exploring our mystical feelings and instincts. Scorpios love chocolate, so, as a fun dessert, we have gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. When you need something to comfort you or some wholesome communion to share during a tarot reading, try one of these cookies!
Q: Are certain spices and herbs tied to zodiac signs as well?
A: Of course! As an example, Leo is ruled by the sun, so golden foods such as corn, peaches and sunflower seeds are recommended, as well as saffron. It's a fire sign, and a summer sign, so we have included some delicious grilled dishes. It rules the heart, so a wise Leo will add heart healthy foods to the royal menu plan. Every meal is a cooking show to a Leo. Even on the rare occasion when they are cooking for only themselves, they will execute every aspect of preparation as if the cameras were rolling. Entertaining is an art form for Leos.
Say you are a Sagittarian. This sign is eager for new experiences, and they are champions of other cultures, so they are drawn to an interesting mix of different dishes—the Sagittarian palate hungers for exotic flavors and foreign cuisine, so they will study and employ the techniques of cooking from all over the world. We assign curry spices to Sagittarius, as well as turkey, salmon, squash, persimmons, dates, and other seasonal foods.
Q: Do you incorporate the characteristics of each sign into the meals designated for them?
A: Yes! I (Amy) am an Aries. I have always loved deviled eggs. They are not particularly fancy, but we suggest serving them on a vibrant cabbage and cilantro slaw, with cumin, hot sauce and lime juice. Our deviled eggs recipe is made with mustard, mayo and cayenne (as a fire sign, Aries likes a little “hot”).
If you are a Taurus, one of our great pasta recipes is Baby Arugula Pesto with Baby Peas. During May, the new young greens and early peas are ready for the taking. The first harvest is the most flavorful. The arugula is nutty, peppery and bright-tasting, the peas are sweet, crisp and tender.
A side dish recipe for Gemini is Stir-Fried Snap Peas. Geminis like to have alternatives, and the formula changes from Chinese to Italian by using olive oil instead of sesame oil, pine nuts instead of sesame seeds, and finishing with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar instead of a dash or two of soy sauce. A Gemini's tastes can change from meal to meal or even mid-meal!
Q: Let’s say you want to make a dessert someone and you know their zodiac sign. Any signature flavors or ingredients you should keep in mind?
A: It's key to think of a sign's traits, and then work from there. For instance, Aquarians are well-known for their mind-body connection—a dessert has to taste good, look good, but also not be overly fussy. We do a Chocolate Chestnut Mousse topped with some crushed chocolate-covered expresso beans. It's quick and easy to prepare, leaving more time for an Aquarius to explore mind-body connections. Monte, an Aquarian, loves it!
For Capricorn, we have Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce. Creamy and comforting, a cheesecake is a special occasion dessert. Like Capricorn, it is reliable, cool and in no way thin or shallow. This dessert recipe is made even more distinctive with the addition of a pair of unusual sweeteners—Lucuma powder, a sweetener milled sweetener milled from a dried fruit native to Peru, adds notes of maple and melon. As an ingredient in ancient Incan fertility rituals, it has a hint of cosmic vision in its sweetness. Mahleb, the ground seed of the Mahaleb cherry, is an intense spice that has been used in Greek and Middle Eastern bakeries for millennia.
We wrote the book to help you better understand your individual personality traits, your tastes and appetites, how we each cook and how we each eat.
— by Madeleine Page
Feature photo by Jon Tyson.
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