Hello, and welcome to Eating the Cosmos, the food horoscope column where we chomp down the stars like our name is Ms. Pac-Man. This month, as every, I’ve got recommendations about what to eat based on when you were born and what that determines about you.
In this edition, we’ve entered the season of Capricorn, which began on December 21. Capricorn is the most dictatorial sign and season. It represents law and order. For an unruly Sagittarius like me, this initially seems like a drag, but, in the end, I’m always very grateful it. Now is when we get our priorities straight; our closets in open-able condition; our friendships and romantic relationships in line with what we as individuals actually think, feel, and believe; and our act, generally, together. This strong foundation is what allows us to let go and have a good time to begin with, so I can’t be wholly mad at it.
Astrologically, though, that’s not all: This is a distinctly intense season because the sign’s ruling planet, the very bossy and stern Saturn, just moved into Capricorn for the first time in 30 years. It’ll stay there until the end of 2020. Meaning: Take everything I just said and multiply it by dang, dude, we’ve got to be on our best behavior.
Oh, yeah, and it’s the new year. Good god! Just, resolutions galore.
Happy 2018 to each and every sign; I hope you have the best meals of your life thus far in the months to come. Read on for how to begin making that happen.
Saturn is in your first house, which is focused on you, as a whole entity—your essence, your body, your personality, your mind, your character. (You know, the little things, yuk yuk.) Since you and your ruling planet haven’t been acquainted in this way since 1988, you will find that the next three years will ask you to look within through a jeweler’s loupe—to see what you’re like on the most granular levels, and what you’d like to do about and with that person.
You are going to need energy for this; you can be a little bit exhaustive (and self-exhausting) when it comes to setting goals, especially when you decide you want to work for a long time on achieving something new, which you will in the months and years to come. Saturn asks us to change course, and it’s asking you to change the ALL of you. So, let’s make the following dish a staple as you muscle through what’s to come.
This miracle is based on something from a restaurant that I think you’d like, Capricorn—a Cuban-American spot in Brooklyn called Lolita Grand. It’s a variation on what they call the Baja bowl, which is bulgur, corn, jalapeños, black beans, pepitas, spicy chipotle lime dressing, kale, and chicken (I skip the pico and avocado they normally include because I cannot stand these things, which I understand are objectively rad). Make an enormous batch of bulgur and make some pulled chicken in the slow-cooker when you have a little bit of time during the week, then make the vegetal elements that need time on the stove (the corn, the beans, possibly the kale if you want, but I prefer fresh) every two days or so. That way, you can just throw it together whenever suits you. Add hot sauce; my ride-or-die is Cholula’s chili garlic.
Baja bowls are totally delicious and excellent for you, which is great for both the psychic and bodily aspects of reupholstering your first house. If I were you, that’s the kind of mix—pleasure and sustenance, in the service of the long haul—that I’d be looking to include in my life as much as possible as you embark on the next three years. Happy birthday, happy new year, and remember to have fun as you try to do right.
You made strides last year, Aquarius, and are just beginning to settle into the excellent new routine you’ve achieved as a result of all your hard work. Since you’re naturally progressive, it’ll feel a tinge strange to reckon with Saturn in your twelfth house, which is very restful and calm in its nature. Now that you’ve built your home base (and furnished and decorated it; you are all the way done, so stop rearranging tchotchkes, already!), it’s time to invite guests over to enjoy what you’ve created.
The most relaxing of all recipes to make for groups of friends happen, of course, in a slow cooker. (Let’s also note that these meals are also great to make for yourself or your family to eat all week, which is also in key with your stressless lifestyle this season.) I’ve had beef bourguignon on the brain for a minute now, which I think would be a wonderful option for you: This traditional French stew will satiate you entirely, plus drug your houseguests with its perfect, permeating smell. (If you’re not into meat, make eggplant parmesan, which has a similarly mood-enhancing effect.) Whatever you put together, take your time to really appreciate your efforts, and let others do the same whenever you can.
Saturn is in your eleventh house of technology, and there are many methods by which you can exploit that good fortune to eat new, interesting things. (Reading this column on the internet, for example! Look, you’ve already begun.)
How can the edifying research you’re doing online lead you to the edible aspects of your interests? Since you are a Pisces, you tend to be piqued by music and visual art, and there are plenty of places on the internet where food connects to those:
You’ve likely heard of The Mind of a Chef; watch the one with Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien; it delves sweetly into his devotion to emo and punk music.
The influence of the solar eclipse that took place in August is still shading in your life. Holy cats, with that VERY POETIC STATEMENT, but it’s true: That event persists in getting you really hype. You’re making plans, both practical and party-wise, and feeling capable of executing on all of them, which, you’re right to feel that way, because you will. This very self-determined stage, though, can sometimes border on myopia when it comes to others’ needs, not just your own. Make sure you back up for a second on at least a few days this month and provide provisionary care for people who aren’t just you or those involved in your projects.
You can do this by picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor, surprising your significant other with a sandwich when they least expect it (this is, by the way, the sexiest thing I can imagine), letting your or somebody else’s kids help you with a new-to-them, more adult dinner technique to make them feel très matureé, or bringing a welcome-back-from-New-Year’s, I-am-also-still-hungover-and-thought-you-might-appreciate-these bagel assortment, along with butter and a few kinds of cream cheese, to your workplace during the first few days of January. You can also just cook for whomever you love, just straight up. If you loved me, for example, I would like osso bucco, onigiri, or pizza. I bet your people would, too.
Saturn recently made its entrance into your ninth house, which represents discovery and exploration. It also abuts business acumen, meaning that you, the hardest-working son of a gun under the sun (sign), are going to find rewards revealed to you by your job—or even just making strong efforts—itself, which will present you with opportunities and ideas that enrich the rest of your life. So: What to eat about all this?
You love highbrow experiences—maybe it would be nice to take a new colleague out for an elegant meal in order to discuss your strategies and plans for the future, in a setting that makes that conversation feel celebratory. If your job is less formal than that sounds, you will enjoy, instead, focusing on new strategies and plans for your culinary future by refining your abilities and skill sets as they play out in your own kitchen. You can decide to make an impressive meal that you’ve never tried before—I’ve always wanted to attempt a straight-up soufflé, which feels like an obvious choice here. Have you ever roasted a lamb to ideal rareness, or roasted a lamb at all? What if you were the kind of sophisticate who gets really, really into gourmet salads? (Since you also love plants and value health, this isn’t too hard for me to imagine.) Whatever you do, it’ll pay off.
Typically, you’re capricious, but with Saturn newly in your eighth house, which centers on bonding and collaboration, you’re searching for someone, or something, else to more sustainably twin up with. When I think about what lasts, I think about preserves, which even in their name tell you they’re meant to stick around. How they’re made—canning—calls to mind Old Farmer’s Almanac–informed homesteading, which, like this column, relies on the seasons to determine what to eat and cares a great deal for astronomy. Since 1792, people have used each yearly edition of that book to divine what to eat, and what work to do in order to be able to. It’s the oldest periodical in America, did you know? (It’s funny—this is another star-related system of thought that we borrowed from the Sumerians, aka the inventors of astrology itself. Forget 1792—their almanac dates from 1700-1500 B.C.; it sternly instructs readers about the proper way to harvest barley.)
What I’m saying with all of this is that it’s worth playacting the kind of longevity you’re seeking in your personal and professional life in your everyday concerns, like eating. You don’t have to turn to an agricultural reference book (or stone tablet, in the case of the Sumerians) in order to eat something time-tested and failsafe: Learn how to make the French mother sauces, or sofrito, or your grandmother’s kasha varnishkes, or jollof rice, or anything that others have for decades or even centuries. Some things are built to last, and so they do. Finally: There’s no such thing as an instant classic, so don’t worry if you’re just becoming familiar with permanence, my multifaceted scatterbrain. All you have to do is find what works and begin holding on to it.
What a romantic time to be a Cancer. You’re an entirely heart-motivated person in all conceits, which is one of the best parts of your personality, and with Saturn having just moved into your seventh house of long-term relationships, you’re going to sink that enormous heart into one person in particular, whether they’re new or familiar to you. You love nothing more than great shows of devotion, and food has been a hallmark of this medium for as long as people have been people, so let’s cut the chit-chat, put on the Lemon Twigs’ “I Wanna Prove to You,” and make two steaks and a chocolate cake. (If you or your person doesn’t eat steak, make a mushroom and leek tart.)
I like for a meal this classic to be not only flawlessly executed, but to have some innovative element to it, too—maybe the steak has a cherry-balsamic reduction to go with it, or the chocolate cake is Nigella Lawson’s and so includes edible rose petals and surprise pistachios. There are a million and one ways to customize your grand steak-and-cake gesture, and I bet that, in your great affinity for this person, you know the exact one they’d like best. Go make them happy, because this season, nothing will make you happier, too.
Why do you care so much if that person still thinks about you? You know, not so deep down, that you don’t actually want to see them, or have them be a part of your life. You keep dangling the paltriest bits of conversation, just when you haven’t heard from them in enough time to make you sort of panic, because you just want to make sure you’re not forgettable. That’s...look, sit down. Have some pasta.
Let me tell you something as you have some dinner with your shoulders squared for a new year: Most people like you. That doesn’t mean you get to behave however dubiously you want and then expect them to remain utterly hearts-for-eyes devoted to you in the way I am going to be, this month, to this pork shoulder ragu (coincidentally, the recipe comes in part from a hero of mine, who DID earn that designation well). Decide whether you want to actually make an effort besides looking good and being intermittently, vacantly charming—you’re at your best when you actually try—or whether you want to let bygones be bygones, because this in-between behavior does something previously thought impossible: It lessens your allure! Think of it this way: boxed pasta and a simple tomato sauce, like Marcella Hazan’s, is perfectly nice and easy to love all on its own. That’s like you when you’re not trying. When you do try: You are as splendorous as gnudi, pad kee mao, cajun chicken tossed with spaghetti, or vincisgrassi. But I don’t want whatever comes in between the former or any of the latter for dinner. Pick what you’re into, and move forward with your life.
I’ve been thinking today about a Virgo named Craig Claiborne. He was a Navy man–turned-New York Times food editor and critic; his most illustrious run at the paper began in the 1950s. He was a star: a venerated socialite, the arbiter of food cultures outside of the homogeneous “American” food of the Atomic Age; an uncompromising writer and taste-setter whose aim wasn’t (only) to fluff up nice French restaurants, but more in key with informing, pleasing, and serving his readers. He wanted them to know exactly what they’d be getting, even if they were encountering food they’d never had before, and why they should try it.
I immediately suspected, reading this fabulous Nora Ephron essay about shi-shi food culture in the second half of the 20th century, that Claiborne was a Virgo. I got whiffs from the anecdotes about his attention to detail: One, that he recorded each and every meal he ate in a given year in a teeny black leather journal, and two, that he could be snooty in his reviews about things like a waiter’s pencil visibly poking out of his jacket—observations that might feel insignificant to non-Virgos. You, though, completely grasp his methodology.
As you eat this season, when Saturn reinforces your already regimented lifestyle, I like the idea of you going full Claiborne. You’re scrupulous no matter what, so commit to it. Plan spreadsheets of your meals. At restaurants, taste for the individual spices hiding in the whole. Get really into perfecting your mise-en-place setup at home. Notice everything. Make a note of it. I hope each detail of your year is a well-chosen one, and I believe they will be.
With Saturn in your fourth house of home, you’re inclined to stay in and make your surroundings resemble the inside of your brain as closely as you can domestically replicate it. You’re probably going to prioritize your bedroom, since it feels most personal, but what about your kitchen—and its edible contents?
I love reading other people’s grocery lists because (a) I really love to party and know exactly how to have a rockin’ time, and (b) I can’t think of many things that feel as immediately intimate and revelatory. Can you pretend, for a moment, to be me, who is likely a stranger to you, as you read your own from a more objective remove? What does it tell you about yourself—what might that person look or be or act like? Do the items take shape into possible meals? Does anything feel missing? As you make your home in your own image, consider your refrigerator shelves and pantry, as well. Happy new year; I hope you get to stay in as much as you’d like.
Saturn is positioned in your third house, which will aid you in expressing yourself clearly and effectively. You already value truth, factuality, and science no matter where Saturn is, but coupled with this particular planet, you will be even more persuasive and compelling in the positions you take this season. A new year is a great time to figure out what, exactly, that it is you want to say with such conviction in the first place. What’s important to you right now?
Food-wise, you might apply your cogency to the concerns of other people, or of your wider community. Is there a local cause that could benefit from your asking the restaurants in your town to donate food or gift certificates for? What about setting up a nonperishable drive at your place of worship, or around an activity your child is involved in? In your area, are school lunches affordable for all children, and if not, can you become involved to correct that? On social media, you could point to the consistent good works of places like No Kid Hungry and Meals on Wheels, and in person, you can ask your friends to go to community events organized by the former organization, or to volunteer with you for the latter. There are lots of ways to make a good point.
I have good news for us, my archer-in-arms: The hard part, aka the years we’ve spent under the cold rule of Saturn since late 2014, has come to an end. Life always changes profusely in a three-year period—in fact, we prefer that way, but the time we spent with Saturn in our sign was unusually tough for us, I think we can admit. Maybe your career molted into something more challenging than you’d expected, or your romantic life got moldy, or your family didn’t quite behave as you hoped would make them, and you, happiest. In any case, things took a turn. Now, they’re going to turn in the other direction, and you will be so pleased at what that begins to mean for you this month, and how it all develops, in the year to come.
A benefit of having your world shaken up (when you’d so much rather be the world-shaker yourself!) is that you’ve had to take stock of what’s important: You’ve asked yourself, What do I need? What can’t I live without? That’s broad, but let’s just think about it in terms of food for a second. Maybe, like me, you found consistent answers in the form of soup dumplings, Diet Coke, spicy mustard, enchiladas, and, against all odds, sweet potatoes. As we get ready to begin shredding through the world’s immanence with our old zeal, I think it’ll be nice to, every so often, keep in mind that if ever things gray up, slow down, or otherwise suck for a little, we’ll have answers to fall back on. We’ll have soup dumplings! We don’t have to be afraid that things are going to go back to the way they were; they were what we needed to get here. Let’s remember to appreciate them as we chase down the new experiences that will further develop our tastes.