Hello, star heads. My name is Amy Rose. I’m your new astrologer here at the ill home planet Food52. If you are big on both food and the internet—impossible for any of us not to be, but you know what I mean—you might remember my divinations at Lucky Peach (rest in Peach). Basically, my deal is that I am in severe romantic love with both stars and food, and so I’m marrying them to tell you about your fortune. Each month, in this column, I’ll outline what the future holds for you, and what to eat about it. Think of it like a farmer’s almanac, but filled with cheeseburgers and peanut sauce.
As of last week, we are dipped, mozzarella stick–style, into the season of Leo. The stars were thinking well when they put Leo in the middle of summertime, because this sign indicates that we might act up in ways that would normally, to us, seem...if not indecorous, at least a little bolder than usual. You know why that is? It’s because the Zodiac’s lion stands for searching for meaning and/or the truth. You will find yourself to be a zealot this season—whether that’s sexual, political, social, labor-centric, or whatever have you right now, there are ways to accentuate it with your dinner plans.
Keep this in mind throughout August: The Ancient Greeks, who knew a little bit about a lot, believed that Leo-the-constellation represented the Nemean lion, who had “golden fur [that] was impervious to attack” and “is said to have fallen from the moon as the offspring of Zeus and Selene.” (You might know Zeus from his reign as king of all Greek gods and/or his authorship of the sky and its weather systems; Selene is the goddess of the moon. Not bad stock to come from, Nemean lion.) Obviously, Leo season connotes power. How do we eat power? (If you link me to a ketogenic diet/meal-prep plan, I will be kind of thankful—I’ve had a summer of pure cake and vodka thus far—but I will also bite you on the hand.) Cheeseburgers and peanut sauce...together?! No, possibly too far, even for Leo. But I have other ideas. Here they are.
And: This month and every, you can transmit pictures of what you make and eat to your dedicated (g)astrologer with the hashtag #f52horoscopes on Twitter and Instagram. (I will be so happy, if you do.)
Happy, happy birthday, ya wildcat, ya lionheart. You are the reflection in the eye of the sun. You are the silkiest son of a gun on the street, and beautiful, and a pleasure to all of your friends, both in person and in the stories they tell about you after the fact. Boldest of the signs, you decorate life for the rest of us, which is really heroic. Thanks for that. I’d like for you to accept, in my gratitude, this offering in food-fortune form: Eat yourself some god-lovin’ strawberry cake, because, in the U.S., strawberry—like you—is in season, and you deserve to take in the best that this weird-ass August has to offer. Bake them in, or heap them on top of a vanilla or citrus cake paved over with buttercream frosting whipped with a little Philadelphia. I promise both are valid options.
Outside of your birthday: I’m seeing a tight August for you, Leo, both in the “hell yeah” sense and the pursestrings-pulling one—you’re going to feel really sexy and in control because of the planets in your ascendant sign...but money isn’t all the way a part of that right now. Who cares? It’s summer; just go to a park or something instead of spending money. Like, get into it: Put on the most attractive and threadbare thing you own, then go to the cheaper grocery store and shop wholly from the circular. You, world-decorator, can always find methods by which to beautify what might otherwise seem solely utilitarian/necessary.
In case you need more help, I’m an old hand at this. I’m a 26-year-old writer, and, before achieving, as a result of that profession, the stunning financial capital I enjoy today, I grew up in a series of homes including “the basement of a duplex with kicked-in windows” and “that one shack behind the Wendy’s.” In adoring food and eating well anyway, I researched which cuts of meat are economical and totally delicious, the splendors of curried chickpeas with spinach, how to take advantage of coupons and, later, free/discounted trials of grocery subscription services with promotional codes (shoutout RetailMeNot—love you, homegirl), and enjoy my favorite budget-friendly summer breakfast: a Firecracker popsicle from the ice cream truck. Best eaten with a date, preferably a new one. (There are ways to feel new with a longer-term partner, too, and your fortune suggests that is highly probable this month.) Again, happy birthday.
Virgo, stop it! You are trying to do far too much right now in the sake of GOODNESS/PRODUCTIVITY/NOT WASTING TIME, and it’s having the opposite effect that you’d like for it to. (Because you are whom you are, this means you are still far more prolific and in-control than many of us, but your output might feel like the bare minimum, in terms of your many capabilities.) You have a lot on your plate (har dee har har) right now, given that the planets are drifting nearer your mid-heaven sign. That means that work and family matters are a little brazy, to say the least. OK: So how do we calm you down, via dinner?
I think it’s all about tea. You should cop some of these quick-blooming jasmine bulbs, honey—the knotty, desiccated flowers open to full blossoms in hot water, infusing it as they go. This kind-ass strain is supposed to ease anxiety and depression (although: do all teas claim this?)—and since you are an aesthete in a bind, you might feel good watching it, in your mug, open up to the world on its own schedule, for its own purpose. That seems like it might (a) cheer ya and (b) demonstrate, to you, the self-assuredness that comes with doing one thing at once, in exactly the time it takes to get there. Love you, stressball.
Because of the whole “scales” symbolism around your sign, everyone says you’re soooo balanced. But all my favorite Libras are a little deranged. More than a little. Their expressions of justice are based in their respective self-righteous senses of what the truth is (and that is righteous, when it’s not terrifying). My one homegirl applies this really well to her work, her friendships, her excellent and pointed taste, and the excellently pointed taste of her food. We were together this week and she made each and every meal for a vacation house of comrades—including the potato salad. Literally the only one I can care about forevermore.
Of course, I asked for the recipe for you. I recorded what she said as she spoke it:
Please note the handwriting in Sharpie—that’s where my friend grabbed my notebook and inserted what else she finds essential to this. Originally, I presumptuously named it “Sarah’s Legacy Potato Salad,” since her grandmother made a version that she adapted. In all her particularity, she took umbrage with that title. “My legacy will NOT be potato salad!” she decreed. “What, you think that’s all I have to give the world?!” Another friend suggested “Sarah’s Preferred Potato Salad”—since what is a Libra, if not preferential? Of course, that stuck. I hope it reminds you that it’s all right to be decisive.
This season, you’ll know what’s best for yourself, and how to best communicate it. Make the things you feel certain of; if it’s potato salad, select the exact herbs you like best. Your persnicketiness matters and benefits others.
You’re proof that emotional people aren’t ineffective, pragmatically—that you can be a heart-based, tears-person who also consistently gives the performance of a lifetime, nearly every time, at whatever morning meeting you’re attending. This month, since Saturn is in your house of career and your finances are looking pretty stacked, prioritize professionalism and your paper, since Mercury in retrograde, beginning August 12, is going to frustrate you via spotty communication with your friends and family. Expect that to wind you RIGHT up and distract you from more rewarding areas of life right now; work on preventing those feelings. What good does it do for you to be hissing, “What, you don’t think calling me back is IMPORTANT? Am I not IMPORTANT to you??” into someone’s answering machine on your lunch break, just to discover you have two missed texts from said person? I’d advise you to turn off your phone whenever possible after the 12th, or at least only check/use it for important business communications. Pick a fixed number of times during the day when you can check in with friends, family, and partners, and otherwise, zero in on your work.
Set up a dinner... Let 20 very-loose-acquaintances get more closely acquainted
Back to the meat of the matter: that lunch break we mentioned above. Despite the interpersonal strife you may sense outside of your profession, now is a great opportunity to direct your social energies into meeting allies and co-mentors in your field. If you like someone’s approach to projects or management, tell them so, and tell them why. Ask them if you can buy them a coffee, a drink, or a lunch (and don’t be discouraged if they say no!). Above all, compliment them.
If you don’t work in an office, set up a dinner at your house and invite colleagues in your field who maybe don’t know one another or have the chance to get together very often. One of my favorite people to work with recently set out a DIY bar, mini spanakopita triangles, charcuterie, buckets of wine, and cheese straws, then just kind of let the 20 very-loose-acquaintances he’d invited get loosely drunk and more closely acquainted. That kind of socializing will (a) allow you not to feel too INTENSE about any one relationship right now, (b) increase the affection you have for your professional community, and (c) leave you with lots of miniature appetizers to eat for breakfast the next morning.
Hey, golden archer. I hope you’re traveling this summer. If you’re not on the road/in the sky/on a boat/fiddling with the car radio knobs to find the best local station for 1980s bops, you might feel a more prominent sense of stasis than you already do most of the time, since you love to get up and go away—into the world and into yourself. Let’s counteract any staleness-of-place with recipes.
First: Please accept that “regional food” sometimes means an appetizer sampler wolfed down at an airport Chili’s Too as much as it does the splendors of whatever locale’s dish most often pictured on souvenir-shop T-shirts. That rules; it’s all part of seeing the world. You can eat more specifically when you reach your destination. Next: If you have to be stationary right now, think of the place you’d most like to visit, then research what foods are popular there, and try to make them yourself. Like: I have always wanted to see Egypt, so I would look up what some main-main courses are there—in this case, ful medames—and get myself to the grocery store in order to enact it.
No matter what, as you traipse through the world either in fact or in your own kitchen: Don’t go to stupid, appropriative restaurants. Think twice about what you see as “exotic.” International cuisine? Please—here’s a thorough primer, including perspective from Food52 star Mayukh Sen, on how to avoid racist squinting at/fawning over food originated in cultures outside your own. Sagittarius, your instinct isn’t to be ethnocentric, but to be—Bono voice—a global citizen. (If there is not a U2 album called Global Citizen, someone isn’t doing their job correctly.) By this, I mean not that you have ownership and complete knowledge of every single food, everywhere, but only that you understand: People all over the world all eat differently, and that’s all normal. Don’t romanticize that outside of purely falling in love with every single kind of food you possibly can. And definitely don’t talk about another culture’s food as though you’ve discovered it yourself. Just eat the world!
The stars indicate that you’re going to post up in your house of career this month, sea goat. Your professional stature has better posture than usual, and maybe that means you, polished though you already are, need to tweak some persona-based shit in order to live up to how it’s gonna be for you at work, and who you’ll need to be when you’re there. First, I’d suggest going to a nice restaurant, or making a superlative meal with friends, to celebrate whatever victory you’re about to enjoy, payroll-/position-wise. Some friends and I have a newfound brunch tradition (haha, ew, but it rules—maybe try having a brunch tradition sometime!!!) called “VICTORY OF THE WEEK.” In it, you say what the star of the week was, current-personal-events–wise: Recent ones, from the last VOTW, were (a) a killer job interview (b) a chic new work assignment (c) “getting my feelings back” and another killer job interview and (d) seeing Mitch McConnell’s face try not to relax into sheer grief as the healthcare bill tanked, and fail at making that mask. FEEL YOUR VOTW, and your victories of this month writ large, over a meal!
And thennnnn....let’s think about how you actually “chow down” while you’re focused hard on whatever it is you do. When you work, do you make sure to have protein, the nutrient that our brains can all but short-circuit without? At your desk, keep:
Good looks—get yours. Position your brain’s function and well-being at the top of all your menu plans this season.
Two Aquarians I know recently chorused that, in all palate-related matters, they ignore sweet foods, preferring savory ones. That, combined with the prominence of Mercury—champion of creativity—this month make me feel as though you should take ownership of dessert and make it into what you’ve always wanted it to be. Who needs sweetness? Especially when you’re a free radical like an Aquarian?
Make gorgonzola bombolini. Parmesan-and-mustard French toast. Cheddar oatmeal. Chocolate, of course, is the base of mole. Use two frozen blueberry waffles as a bacon, egg, and cheese wrapper. (And you can trust me on that.) Crush a can of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. Sweet potatoes stuffed with braised greens and cheese sound tight—like a gratin in an edible, elongated ramekin. Even Dorie Greenspan, cookie royal though she is, allows herself to get involved with this Gouda cocktail shortbread. Toss handfuls of bitters into whatever you’re drinking! Do a Cel-Ray, bitters, and gin cocktail, for Pete’s sake. Go on.
Hey, Pisces, you need a distraction from yourself this month. Do you know how much happier you can be if you focus on the well-being of others, even if things are sublimely, er, not great, for you? I want to talk to you about how to show up for non-you people in order to show up for yourself.
Unions are important; I didn’t know what they were until I was 23, 24, and that’s just because I edited an interview with a union organizer. In case you’re not really sure, either: A union is an organized group of workers who support one another’s rights and enact better workplace practices for one another—overtime pay, and weekends off, are things that unions successfully worked for together, for example. After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, unions made it less likely that women die in their workplace by pushing for better safety conditions on the job, whatever the job might happen to be.
In terms of food, some of the most pressing and punishing labor conditions impact the people who work in “quick-service,” aka fast-food or chain restaurants, almost none of whom are unionized. This year in New York, quick-service restaurant workers have had significant aid thanks to unions (and particularly the Service Employees International Union); the minimum wage was raised to $15. (Still too little to make a living in New York City, but it’s an improvement.)
Last week, it was passed into legislature that companies can’t subject their employees to the kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants scheduling they have until now—meaning, telling employees to come into work and then turning them immediately away, or telling them to punch out after just two hours, to save on the cost of paying employees. (Isn’t that deranged?!) The restaurant industry, writ large, had vehemently pressured legislators in order to keep allowing this. Unions are a political body, though—made of actual, working citizens, instead of $$$—and successfully made their point to the contrary. Here's some info on how to join, help, or form a union.
What I’m thinking this month for you, Pisces: Is there any amount of money or time you can give away in order to serve (literally) the greater good, partially in order to sustain yourself? Forget donating $$$/pizza to the New York Times—honestly, they are fine. (And beloved by me! But, fine.) Can you give what you’ve got to coalitions that boost or sustain underrepresented, hungry, disenfranchised, or mistreated people? At a local house of worship, with a serving spoon in your hand, at a community dinner night with a purpose to feed the homeless? To the AARP Foundation, which supports elderly people in some of the least food-stable areas of the country? To a struggling neighbor, who might use a grocery store gift certificate anonymously left in their mailbox? (Some unknown-to-us locals did this for my mom when I was a kid. We were in a financial situation shredded up by opioids; I will never forget it.) You can even join Food52 in having a bake sale for charity. Get yourself out of your mind in order to feel better. Feed others.
Beginning with the full moon on August 7, it will be kind and helpful to yourself, and those you love, to behave like the caregiver/leader in your relationships. This doesn’t mean self-negation—just that your people might like a little affection or support, especially in order to reciprocate that to you, as you meet new and life-expanding projects, modes of thinking, and other areas of inquiry this month.
What if, every time you kept a date with a friend this month, you brought them some little, edible gift? My most brilliant friend, Jia, is queenly at this—she once brought me half a loaf of Danish bread, plus a stack of killer almond cookies, from Panya Bakery in honor of plain-old meeting up in the park. I felt so supremely loved. I think of it a lot; it works as one definition of grace. (Plus, you will likely get to eat some of whatever you offer.) In a less personalized, more easily distributed sense, this tactic works well with Blow Pops. I surprised my computer repair people with a fistful of them the other day, and they cocked their heads before each doing that perfect smile-of-not-having-expected-something that starts very slow and then bursts across a face all at once. Spring food gifts on people like it’s no big deal at all. It’s the best feeling on earth.
What a leaden time. I’m beginning to suspect, selfishly, that the only mor(t)al imperative any of us has is to enliven life itself only through the pursuit of tactile, in-front-of-the-face happiness. I’m thinking that we can’t love politics for its mind, or continue to yodel fruitlessly into the void about what we think we or others deserve, governmentally. I feel nihilism shading every thought, and not the fun, let’s-party-because-we’re-dying! kind, but the stultifying, form-erasing kind that blurs all good things and makes them harder to see through the bad ones.
Nope. You know what’s real? Your neighbors. Make them cookie butter blondies. Pass out ice cream sandwiches to their children, just because. Shop at local businesses—grocers, restaurants, farmstands, bars—even if you have to be a little more frugal. We are all trying to pay down our credit card debt and make sure our loved ones aren’t floundering. The most immediate way to eat through that is by supporting the people immediately next to you—their businesses and their happiness, and your own. Your inspiration this month: the libraries feeding the kids in their towns every day in Ohio, California, Virginia, and New York. August is all about pragmatic camaraderie, Taurus.
Why this is particular to you, Taurus: Your planet-balance is hanging out in the descendant part of your chart this season, meaning you’ve got to rely on others as much as they usually rely on you. If you make a net out of your neighbors, you’ll all feel stronger for it. There’s a tautological cause-’n’-effect here: Kindness begets kindness.
Hello, winsome twinsome. Your impulses, which are so often at odds, will be all the more so as this Leo season ignites your most oppositional urges. It might seem hard to know what to do to make yourself happy at the moment, given that everything seems equitably like both the right and the wrong choice. What if, in deciding whatever it is you have to decide, you miss out on the fruits of a better option? Look, twinset: That’s called the economic principle of opportunity cost—all of life’s experiences are bought and paid for by the expense of the time and resources you spend on them. Everyone feels and is governed by opportunity cost—not just you—so take heart. And there are methods by which you can minimize your expenditure, or at least the feeling of it, and some of them have to do with eating really delicious shit.
I am thinking of noodles. (For when am I not?) Go get you some hot pot, which is a steaming tureen of everything-at-once, meaning that your indecision will be quelled by eating, at the same time, however many varieties of vegetables, proteins (lamb! tofu! spicy pork!), noodles, and dumplings you care to dunk inside the broth. In the spirit of Leo’s insistent heat, make it as spicy as you can bear, or a little spicier, even. That way, you’ll be blissed out in agony as you eat—seemingly adversarial moods, right? They don’t have to be. (Maybe you can apply that syncretic mode of thinking away from the dinner table this season, too...)
Man, Cancer, do you tend to get in your own head—but not in the way that the rest of us appreciate all of you, but in a self-critical and quite unkind way, providing a bitchy postgame to every and each scenario. Mercury retrograde is coming in hot in the middle of this month, which might bungle some of your grand (and not-so-grand) plans. You’ve got to accept that some hardships are just out of your hands. So, how can you feel better about life’s potential wacknesses? How can you introduce bacon-bits of joy into an often-hellish world?
Take a cue from the Mormons! Translate grief into a feast. Have you ever heard of funeral potatoes, also known as party potatoes? (Funerals: Are they parties? Seems to me that it’s a case-by-case thing.) It's a rad tater-tot casserole popularized by and named for their ubiquity at funerals. This might seem morose, but is it really all that grim to enjoy a food so loved that it became the icon on an official Olympic pin in Salt Lake City, for the 2002 Games? If the ultimate physical loss can be transliterated into the ultimate physical excellence, there is some joy to be found in everything.
Even when the world is acting stupid or things feel incomplete, you can go home and eat chapssalddeok, or drink two seltzers in a row (I recommend doing this whenever it occurs to you—it really does help), or devise how to make perfect pan sauce, or amaze yourself with how cashews (slightly depressing on their own) can become vegan macaroni and cheese (like in this recipe). There are always good things, even on the very worst day. Go smell the air and have some lunch.