lucky peach


Stargrazing: Food Horoscopes for August 2016

Let the stars guide your food this month.

By Amy Rose Spiegel August 4, 2016

Greetings, planet patrol, and welcome to Stargrazing, wherein you’ll read all the secret recipes your astrological sign holds in store for you this month. We’re just beginning the season of Leo, which is founded in life-essence. Stay with me here. Life-essence means not what your personal characteristics are, but character in the overcoming-difficulty, character-building sense of the word. (Leo doesn’t find workaday or otherwise essential tasks difficult, by the way. Leo exercises because he or she likes to sweat.) Life-essence follows the lead of Leo’s guiding planet, which is, in fact, a star: no less than the sun itself. During Leo season, we’re led to focus on the necessities of good health and happiness, which are often hard-won.

This month focuses on traits like honesty, charisma, frankness, courage, dignity, physical presentation, stewardship, conviction, and stiff-upper-lippedness. Leo wants better for all of us and knows how to get it, which is by playacting it. According to this wackadoo book I have called Astrology for the Millions (originally published in 1940 by Grant Lewi, the “father of modern astrology,” who is especially notorious for correctly predicting his own death date): “For Leo, in the process of appearing something desirable, actually becomes something desirable. [Leo] knows instinctively the wisdom of the advice Hamlet gave his mother: ‘Assume a virtue if you have it not.’” This is rephrased more succinctly by a li’l bit of Vonnegut, too: “We are what we pretend to be.” Let’s act nice and behave ourselves, even when we feel rotten.

This month, we are going to advance our efforts to avoid:

—“Forgetting” to look up whether the fish we choose to eat may be THE VERY LAST ONE OF ITS KIND, and teething on red snapper anyway.

—Taking a lax attitude with the five-second rule when the terms of expiration are right there in its name.

—Trying to type quietly while a friend is into the second hour of talking about his breakup on the phone, since we just really wanted to find/finish that Atlantic article about new sexual-health practices in nursing homes (after all, old people are boning in droves right now—fascinating!—and your friend isn’t, so… )

—Not flossing.

—Starting to throw trash in a new garbage bag before we’ve even taken the old one out to the can. It can sit in the kitchen for another hour or two, and who cares, right?

LEO DOES. Leo cares, and this season, you will find that you are surer of certain things (and dinner orders) yourself, as long as you at least pretend to care about them at first. This season, let’s be on our best behavior, and that extends to our consideration toward food. Since food is inherently the best thing ever, it’s perfect for easy Leo-style gussying-up: you’re already starting out with a winning material.

As far as meals go, Leo’s kind of a priss (I say this because I am Emerald City–green with envy of their admirable habits across the board), albeit one with great taste (SO! TO SPEAK! [gasp-coughs through this joke, which Leo would never stoop to make]): they are moved to eat what aids the rest of their goings-on. While they adore food, their intake is often circumscribed based on whether it’s healthy or natural or homemade. While we follow Leo’s rules, let’s think of the star that set them in the first place and how the sun feeds life: photosynthesis, so perfect in its bountiful function.

The Nemean lion, Leo’s first ancestor, had “golden fur [that] was impervious to attack.” Modern-day Leos know that their armor is health, good presentation, intelligence, and care, and this month, we’re basically a fleet of Ms. Pac-Mans when it comes to food that embodies at least two of those forces this month. (I’d say let’s try for all four, all the time, but I was born in December—leave that lockstep to the lions able to keep pace evenly.)

We won’t be sticking only to the edible flora that the sun photosynthesizes for our secondhand consumption, but any junk we eat is going to feel as pristine and dutiful: not only the icing on the cake, but piped icing, with a message in golden-ratio-perfect script that reads HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LIONHEART. And that icing on the cake is actually the icing on two subterranean layers of even more icing, because there’s not a wayward crumb to be found among our efforts this month.

I don’t need to look up felicity and feline to recognize their shared piece: Leo, as good as the sun or clean teeth, will enable the best eating possible. Show me what you pretend to be, what you are, and what you eat on Twitter @amyrosary or Instagram @verymuchso with #STARGRAZING, and I’ll show it off here next season.


Of all the doubling-down on merit, persistence, duty, beauty, and responsibility this time of the year, Leo season, warrants from everyone, you’re feeling it the most of all of us, doye—you’re the reason for the season! As usual, you’re determined to both shred and make it look effortless, even though the pose takes even more effort than the huge exertion of will you’re already making. Quoth the iconic Leo Young Thug, in Rich Gang’s “Lifestyle”—and these lines come just bars apart—“I’ve done did a lot of shit just to live this here lifestyle” and “Hey, think this is a show, bitch? I’M PERFORMING.” It can be hard to make it look this easy, Leo, and you might be hankering for a little credit, not least because it’s your birthday.

Feel free to show out right now. You have done a lot of shit just to live this here lifestyle, and, rather than pretend the wealth you earn—in whatever form it takes—comes easily, you should, for once, detail the work that goes into your splendor. Food-wise, this means: make a huge display out of your food, share it with others, and don’t shy away from their compliments or questions about just how you were able to achieve your delicious end results. Here are some especially byzantine/expensoid recipes.

Another plan: construct your own birthday buffet, as if to showcase all the greatness—in so many permutations—that you have to offer. I like the idea of these carrot, goat cheese, and tapenade sandwiches cut into miniatures and arrayed on a long platter; a little bit of a lamb skewer; Yotam Ottolenghi’s stuffed, fried olives and/or spicy nut mix (both can be served at room temperature, and the former only takes a little more work); and this artichoke-and-spinach relish, like you’re at a fancy-ass T.G.I. Friday’s. Or do none of that and go to the real chain restaurant itself in a fire outfit and act like you own the world. Whatever feels best.

When people swoon and inquire over how you assembled such a nice party, be that at home or at an actual T.G.I. Friday’s, tell them the truth instead of being modest. You can perform beautifully, but it doesn’t detract from that show to give those who are curious about it a backstage pass to what goes into it. It’s generous to answer other people’s questions—to show them the ways in which grandeur is possible. Let us in on all you know, okay? The best lifestyles are meant to be emulated.


I stayed with a Virgo friend in Berkeley at the start of Leo season, and she embodied the food-truths the stars will help spell onto your plate this month. All day, we ate hyper-ripe peaches out of a designer serving bowl meant to resemble a deck of cards landing after being thrown in the air (it’s hard for me to describe, but it made sense coming from her, as most concepts do as laid out by Virgos). At night, we ate cereal, Prosecco, and Caesar salad in bed while watching Stranger Things.

Sometimes, true quality, to a Virgo, means keeping everything where you can see it, exactly as you like to see it, and nothing more than that. Don’t overreach in the kitchen right now, since many new forces are swimming toward you and you want to be available to catch them without having first to wash your hands and turn off the stove. Take it easy this month with the help of what you already know to be simple and good, and you’ll find room for all kinds of decent houseguests, physically and psychically.


Libra! I have such a good idea for you this season! I know you’ll like it because I asked my Libra roommate, Gideon, what he’s hungering for most right now. He looked at me with one of the gravest/happiest expressions and insisted, Okonomiyaki.” Like you, fellow Libra, Gideon’s Leo season hinges on an inborn confidence: you’re going to know just what to do at work. (You may be inclined, even, to work from home in both the career sense and the Fifth Harmony sense, since you’re doing well enough at both to get away with deciding how you spend your own time. Everything’s going to get done in the end, so why not?)

Anyway, back to how this all clearly means you have to stuff yourself with a Japanese bacon-and-cabbage pancake. First: it will ask you to combine simple ingredients, like the aforementioned, plus flour, eggs, and either dashi powder or chicken-stock powder (aka Knorr bouillon cubes—no autographs, please!!), and use them to make something that feels both original and obvious, as all the most assured aspects of life do. Making okonomiyaki is just about as simple as making pancakes, except these ones, you get to flood with kewpie mayo and customize at will—okonomiyaki means “grilled as you like it.” When you mix up the batter, add whatever sounds good to you to the basic mix. Whatever sounds good to you is a solid representation of confidence, I feel. Enjoy.


Don’t let aphorisms lie to you: recent research suggests that breakfast isn’t really as essential as its eggs are cracked up to be. BUT! In the spirit of treating our food with grace, let’s act like we know the truth: breakfast is a true delight, and we deserve to do well by it and vice versa. MAKE YOURSELF SOME MIGAS! (Or, holy yolks, DORITOS MIGAS? Can someone report back on whether these rule in the Taco Bell–ish way they suggest?) For the unacquainted, migas combine tortilla chips, scrambled eggs, tacos, and the closest to untrammeled bliss I am capable of approaching in the morning, which is a certified gross time of day.

Not to us, though, as we are pretending this month, and we are doing so much more effectively with migas. They’re easy and beautiful and, in recommending them to you, just taught me what the word syneresis means: either to push two vowels together into a diphthong, or to create Dumpster scrambled eggs by forgetting to pre-salt them, allowing them to lose water and their proteins to prematurely separate. That’s actually my favorite thing I’ve learned all day, making this dish educational, too. WHAT CAN’T MIGAS DO? What inordinate power do Doritos migas hold?! Now I’m nervous. Don’t make them. Stick to regular, for safety.


What’s up, crossbow cohort of mine? YEAH, I DON’T KNOW EITHER. What a mystifying season: just at the astrological time when our decisions and futures seem less certain than they have all year, Leo tasks us with doubling down and being the best and tons of other mumbo jumbo about self-possession that feels almost insultingly off-base at current. It appears to be a Catch-22, this ennui of ours and the impetus to take ourselves more seriously when there’s seriously nothing here right now. And yet! I have hope that Leo season is here to pull us forward by the wrist into the next, new, more assured versions of ourselves.

Set a schedule for your need-to-dos, babe, and start checking off each morning’s list of tasks with caffeinated gasoline, aka cold brew, yerba mate, or matcha, depending on what (a) you like best and (b) doesn’t turbo-charge you into a NASCAR-level brain-crash a few hours later. You’ll also need a lot of protein if you expect leonine operation of your brain. Lions are carnivores, remember! Account for that with eggs, lean meat (if you eat it), beans galore, and other strong-idea-generating foods. Maybe you would like to eat a certified favorite lunch of mine, which is one of the most chomp-worthy and neuron-greasing afternoon meals I know about: cram a whole-wheat pita with the hummus of your choosing, an abundance of deeply green leafy greens, another layer of hummus (I want to marry hummus; I basically feel I can get high off of it?), and some lemon chicken breast (or artichoke, if you are vegetarian) up in there for even more protein. If you want to add couscous mixed in with some of the hummus, that tastes really good, too.

The heart wants what it wants—my heart wants hummus, and to smash through this self-doubt like I’m the first across a NASCAR finish line instead of into more dividers, hapless pit-crew bystanders, etc. Let’s hope for success in both pursuits, for all of Sagittarius. One will help the other—take care of yourself, tend to your brain with your food, and you’ll be fine.


You prefer to get things precisely right rather than finding TWELVE E-Z HACKS for truncating the time you’re meant to spend on them. As such, this season is going to fit oddly on you (which you also, as a rule, are ideologically opposed to). Like it or not, it’s in your best interests to spend time stoking your relationships and so forth, including the one with yourself.

Don’t worry, prickly pear: there are methods by which you can reach the finicky goals you desire without throwing out all the reasons why you want them in the first place. To wit: you can wind up with kimchi in a half hour flat if you want to. (It’s okay if, going forward, this fact is how you explain your religious faith—I more than get it.)

Other means of comforting yourself with the meticulousness you prefer in all your travails: eat ingredients that are snooty in their simplicity, like sardines and Pernod. You don’t have to do any work, but you still get to maintain your claim on being the discerning person you are. Cut up a strawberry and put it in some Pellegrino. Eat a corn dog. (JUST KIDDING, my God, the look on your face!)


This season, you want to ball out and go H.A.M., Aquarius, which is just one reason the idea of being strong-armed by Leo rankles you. When you hear all this moralizing about being good, your gut reaction goes: (a) I’m already good as hell, so I exhort you to swiftly back up and/or off of me, and/or (b) a no-rules Cartman/Beyoncé hybrid of, Whatever, whatever, I can do whatEVER I want! Including eating only Blow Pops and vodka, if I feel like it!!!

That stubbornness is part of why I love you, water carrier, and, even more so, it’s evidence of how Leo season actually helps those arguments carry water. Leo asks you to be certain of your instincts, as long as they’re ones that are compliant with the categorical imperative: you don’t have to do away with your proclivities in total, you just have to prioritize behaviors that are applied with sound reasoning to yourself and others, and ignore the rest for now. A good rule, in general! (Immanuel Kant = the original Fred Rogers?)

How this works at feeding time: if you want to party down and eat extravagantly, come up with methods of doing so that won’t leave you with a gastrointestinal hangover/remorse attack. I think about how sweet it is that there are food vendors at the upcoming Iowa State Fair that, among the stomachache-inducing beauty of offerings like cheddar bacon cheese on a stick, ice cream nachos, and something called “The Slopper,” hawk relatively innocuous foodstuffs like caprese salad on a stick, turkey tenderloins, and fruit pizza (even if that last premise seems blasphemous in the extreme to this gastrologer, whose legal blood type is “marinara”). The less artery-taxing fare works within the parameters of “fucking crazy, obscene, devil-may-care comestibles,” but do so with a bit more prudence, you know? You can figure out what bombastic—but measured!—eating means for you this season: Perhaps you want to make chocolate-covered bananas like these, rolled in M&MS, Oreo gravel, or whatever other adornments you like? Caramelize some peaches. You, of all signs, understand that your gut reactions can also be brain-based ones.


Rihanna’s favorite food is pasta, Pisces, and since Rihanna is such an excellent member of your shared sign-species, why not make this dead-facile, garlic-and-olive-oil-based favorite recipe of hers, by way of Scarpetta (by way of People magazine), to celebrate unquestionable perfection among your kind this month? If, being the iconoclast you are all on your own, you’d like to reconfigure pasta outside of Italian-ass classics favored by a singer who almost definitely leaves the restaurant with her wineglass (so sick), make jap chae; guaranteed-perfect hand-pulled noodles according to the sticklers at Cook’s Illustrated with green-olive sauce and bread crumbsramensagna; or jerk shrimp spaghetti.  [related_content id=”13595″]

If you’re not into elaborating on a carbohydrate-based classic, make something out of a vitamin-laden classic and some tonier element, like Amanda Hesser’s roasted cauliflower with parsley-anchovy butter. This will quell any sneaking wariness, this month, that your creativity and irrepressible verve are overshadowing your good sense by proving once and for all that they don’t preclude one another. Remind yourself of that, especially if someone gets all flinchy upon apprehending you carrying your wineglass out of a restaurant. You’ve got bigger things on your mind, okay??


Weirdo forces are reconfiguring some of the comforting, everyday aspects of your life, Rambo. Strange—not bad, but strange—changes to the routine you’ve long trusted to keep you in High-Shred Mode are rerouting you in frustrating directions: you’ll have to pay extra attention to some new details in your work, finances, or home life. The key to this season is sticking to the simplest-to-make and best-for-your-mind-and-body foods you can manage. This means: spinach salad with walnuts, chicken breast, and a small citrus fruit; frozen grapes popped with abandon; popcorn popped with abandon and also topped with a little Himalayan sea salt (it really is better) and/or seaweed flakes, for when you want something snackadocious; broccoli dressed up in coconut oil, placed in a pan, and forgotten about as it roasts in the oven for twenty minutes or so. (Use coconut oil in place of butter and other cooking oils whenever you feel it isn’t a sacrifice; develop a taste for it.) All of that is easy enough, which will be mooring during this haywire month. Remember: some things can and will stay simple.


This is a segue of a season for you, Taurus—you’ve got to batten down Fort Self as you prepare to find out what’s next in store for you in one of your most capital lifezones, like health or friendships or employment. It behooves you, bullseye, to reserve yourself as best you can for when the future shows up. What meals would make you feel most looked-after right now? You love produce-based food, sure, but a heartier approach than just palming an apple is the move of the moment. I like the looks of this New York Times recipe for an eggplant, tomato, and chickpea casserole and these Food & Wine salmon tacos. Also, it’s more than fine to keep it more basic than basic this season with easy-ass recipes like mashed sweet-potato bowls and pan-fried fish with lemon, capers, and parsley.


The Gemini I love most had a hard time with some scallops the other night. Despite his best intentions, they ended up burned, cold, and crusted, sessile-style, onto a saucepan’s scorched bottom (so unlike the speedy creatures they had lived as). My Gemini friend was wholly unstoked on this outcome: he had gone to three supermarkets for ingredients just to affix these bivalves onto his cookware! It was frustrating.

I gently asked, given that amount of forethought, how they got to be so bad. (I did not actually say bad.) Well, from what I could piece together from his account: They were fresh, then he froze them for just under an hour. They ranged in size—a lot—but were treated all the same, heat-wise. I inquired about the recipe he had followed—where did he find it? He had, it was revealed, decided to follow one for walnut jumbo prawns, thinking it’d work just the same. Gemini!

Be well-prepared as best you can this season. It’s difficult to know whether you’re doing as good a job as possible or if, rather, uncontrollable-by-you forces are tripping you up without coming to each situation you encounter having trimmed any potential variables in play down to their most absolutely knowable. Anticipation and planning are nonnegotiable this month in all things—so you gotta make a mise en place, based on an actual recipe, before any gustatory attempts, seafood-based or otherwise, which you haven’t previously mounted. Know what you need to add, and when, and you can have perfect scallops in under ten minutes if you like, twin.

Even more foolproof: do that Internetty “meal prep” thing where you make your week of meals on one night, and try to make frozen, bagged chili look like it’s a sumptuous surprise when unthawed. I mean, it is, but I’m usually too disorganized to follow through with these thoughtful, responsible ideas. And so, Gemini? In unplanned-for moments of late-night, fridge-focused longing, I end up staring wistfully at lasagna noodles and miso paste, wondering how the hell I can make them work together, when I could have casually arranged a delicious chili in advance. Do as I stargraze, not as I do.


This season, Cancer, is about giving yourself a little bit of a break. This perhaps seems counter to the grand demands of Leo season, but you can apply the lion’s insistence on quality and intention to your own restfulness, no problem. The idea here is to take a bit of a vacation with the people and tastes that appeal to you most, even if it lasts only an afternoon. In keeping with your crustacean-hood, I think it’d be nice to assemble a CRAB BOIL!!! These are a gargantuan pleasure, plus no slouches nutritionally (Leo’s watching), and they’re meant to feed a lot of people, meaning you’re going to require good company.

Typically, a crab boil entails crabbers, corn, red potatoes, like a fucking pound of Old Bay, and biscuits or French bread for serving. (If using crabs is too expensive righ nah? Go for shrimp or prawns and mussels instead and re-bill your get-together as a “seafood boil” for the same overall effect.) You—guess what—boil all of that together, then dump it onto a long table covered in newspaper for your bound-to-be-grateful loved ones to decimate with their terrible teeth and claws, then crumple into the trash by the tablecloth-load—you’ll have made it really easy for them to be thoughtful guests, which is cool. Here’s one solid boilerplate plan adapted from a twenty-year-old recipe in Gourmet. A leisurely day built on seafood-based chores is totally perfect for this season, pal—enjoy. (And please invite me over; I will help with cleanup and also with going Corona for Corona with you in the sun.)