Now reading Stargrazing: Food Horoscopes for January 2017

Stargrazing: Food Horoscopes for January 2017

Let the stars guide your food this month.

Paige Mehrer Lucky Peach stargrazing January (1)

Welcome to Stargrazing, your edible guide to the zodiac. It’s Capricorn season, which of course coincides with a new year. This is lucky because Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, whose influence coaxes out our most planning-oriented, groundwork-laying selves. Another way to think about Saturn’s personal development–based initiatives: The writer Dante Alighieri, in his beautiful Paradiso—the last part of the Divine Comedy, where the protagonist rises through heaven—characterizes Saturn as the astral neighborhood of “the Contemplatives.” Its residents discuss “predestination,” or the complicated exercise of thinking about, and maybe even employing, free will—the possibility of choosing our actions and determining our selves. This season, we will do the same! Beginning with the AUTONOMY OF SNACKS. (Kidding… but only a little!!) This season and planet indicate that you’re scheming on traversing previously uncharted horizons, and if you’re like me, that atlas includes many food-based paths.

Capricorn-uary is all about making new lists, grocery and otherwise. Who do we want to be, and what do we need to do (and eat) in order to complete those evolutions? Can we ever truly choose what our lives are like? Truly: I have no idea! But just in case the answer is yes: let’s cook up some rad plans for the future—and please do share yours with me on Twitter and Instagram with the tag #stargrazing, ya 2017-committed comet.


Your namesake constellation Capricornus is—surprise!—a lot like you, astronomically speaking. It’s very faint, plus the smallest group of stars depicted in the zodiac, so you could say it keeps to itself. It can be occulted—obstructed from sight—by the moon and planetary passersby; is it not the case that you mostly prefer others take the spotlight? Delta Capricorni, your constellation’s defining star, is an eclipsing binary: it’s actually two small, close-together stars in one, which aren’t bright enough alone to be seen distinctly. They soak up each other’s light, teaming up in one more luminous visualization by eclipsing each other! Is this not you? This hiding of yourself in order to support yourself?

You would think, given these unassuming conditionals, that the constellation Capricornus would be less of a huge deal, but it’s one of the oldest-known and most history-shaping light fixtures in the sky. People have known about it since the twenty-first century BCE, aka three millennia ago. (A long time to be quietly important, as you hope you are to your loved ones.) For a long part of its history, the Winter Solstice was marked by the sun in Capricornus. Now, though, it’s only the celestial harbinger of each new year—no autographs please, quoth Capricornus—and as outlined above, the astral host for pragmatically reinvigorating and pursuing our most pressing dreams. This is also you: never showy, very life orienting, and necessary.

With the sun in Capricorn, you are as low profile as ever, but your focus on taking care of your life, and setting it up down the line, proves that you’re at your very brightest, if secretly. While your precision and productivity are working in such beautiful tandem that you could near to glow in the dark, what can you do to provide for yourself in future moments when you feel a little dimmer? As you know, you are prone to those moments—but you also know the value of anticipating them well.

You can absolutely do so with food. I respected this writer’s dissection of stocking a chest freezer: She made a metric fuckload of killer meals to defrost after she has a baby who will likely usurp much of the time she’s previously spent cooking. You don’t necessarily need to be so militaristic in terms of planning ahead, but it might be nice to prepare a double batch of enchiladas, chili, lasagnas, or any easily frozen meals that you might already be insulating your January with, then lining your freezer door with the extras. Or you could follow one of these guides to cooking for the times ahead when your roll slows a little bit. Though this is your season to blaze insistently with your own well-made and -executed visions and rhythms, part of that process is privately considering how to uphold them down the line—you know what that means better than me. Happy birthday, beautiful Capricorn. I know you wish you were, but you are never faint to the people who adore you.


Even if your reputation is grounded in one well-expressed set of skills or personality traits, there’s a lot more to you than that (respectably earned!) designation. Your assignment, this month, is to think of variant usages for the wealth of assets you’ve accumulated so far.

If you’re incredibly handy when it comes to frying hash browns to their perfectly crisped exterior/weightless potato interior, try making samosas (or! vice versa, which will continue to be true of the rest of my suggestions here). Maybe your morning smoothies are your bedrock. So rad! How about, when friends are over late at night, you employ the same skill set to grind up a from-scratch rocky road shake out of chocolate ice cream (I typically think that Häagen-Dazs is for true suckers, but you kind of can’t mess with their classics), walnuts, and marshmallow fluff? I would peaceably die on the spot if someone presented me with that gift at a cool and casual twelve-thirty a.m. Whatever you’re great at: diversify it!

Since you’re so accomplished as it stands, you can confidently plumb the archives of what you’re good at to find even more outlets for expressing it in food. Show us just how good you are, Aquarius. (Okay: Can you please make me that shake now, dude?)


The best parts of you don’t entirely lend themselves to being recorded in a daily planner, you dreamer! However, there are some absolute, hard-lined realities that you should pay attention to, because if you nail them down, you’ll make helpful room for more of the spacing out and scribbling paintings that sustains you. Some breezy things to think about perfecting: becoming aware of (but not 100 percent prescriptive about) the glasses of water and grams of sugar you take in per diem—or, even better, big upping yourself for foregoing restrictive food habits that have left you unhappy in the past.

Do NOT attempt a strict diet or food regimen if you can help it; it’s hard for you to stick to rules without ruminating over them to the exclusion of your weirdo spirit or, conversely, forgoing them entirely. Instead, spend an hour or two breezily plotting out what you need to be fulfilled and happy, and allot for that with looseness, like a food-based Oblique Strategies deck. (Have you heard of Brian Eno’s set of creative-prompt cards before, Pisces? If not: oh, man, you are gonna love this.) Some functional, but still oblique, ideas: Eat a clementine and dig a deranged smiley face in the peel with your nail. Decide that protein is essential, and have some every day. Hot fudge can go on anything. Dried apricots may look like alien vaginas, but they taste great (although it’s entirely possible that alien vaginas do, too). Make your pasta sauce from scratch. Relatedly: Marcella Hazan is Obi-Wan. Have a great year, fish face.


I have a hunch that your expectations for what’s to come lean heavily on an allegiance to what you’ve done in the past. That’s fine—to a degree, as long as you keep everything Christmas-fond instead of On the Waterfront-level bleak. The latter is sentimentality. Sentimentality is nostalgia’s alcoholic, overly familiar cousin who hangs on your shoulder too hard at holidays. Sentimentality is heavy as manure, and stinks worse.

It’s tempting to stick to what you grew up, or grew yourself up, eating if your appetite has long been semi-pleasantly manacled to it. Some things, upon closer scrutiny, are only nice because we know them. CRUCIAL COUNTERPOINT: There’s a whole world out there! There is pastrami salmon, and flan, and pimiento cheese nachos (I would assume? Wait, YOU SHOULD INVENT THIS), and lots of kinds of pears, and whatever farro is! Please find out for me!

This season is about casting for new superlatives instead of obtusely bellyaching about how great it used to be. Look forward, even if it strains your eyes/guts at first, instead of squinting back over your shoulder and distorting your vision to blur it into something more favorable than what it truly was. You’ll find that you don’t have to stick to what you know in order to feel close to what you’re eating. Can’t wait to see what you’ll become and ingest this year, virgin Rambo.


Thinking up “resolutions” can seem like horse hockey, given that you’re always involved in some kind of forward-moving/bettering-yourself mission(s). So: make your areas of food-centric intrigue and improvement totally frivolous feeling! Like, have you ever cared about the grade of olive oil, maple syrup, or butter you use before? Unless you are a cool chef type, the answer in regard to one, more, or all of those categories is likely, hell nyet!! (Well, I’m not, and my favorite butter is Plugrá. This is a public service announcement: Get the salted! If you do and then fry an English muffin in it, you’re going to ask for my hand, I promise. [In advance: I’m flattered, but right now, I’m committed only to exploring. Please grease this ring up off my hand with ya Plugrá. Remember me always.])

2017 is weird, so “resolve” only to donate everything you can to these zones and devote yourself to a condiment. Go balls out for balsamic! If I’m sure of a single dimple on your Taur-ass, it’s that you’ll easily manage to make culinary whimsy feel studious and important. I hope that you choose that, Taurus. You’ve already banked enough self-improvement for the next three and a half years, so I like the idea of your gorging on the inessential. The world won’t listen! Make your own caramel corn! With cheese!


Your personal objectives are subject to slapdash and abrupt change, Gemini. All you want is everything! That’s so apt and excellent, and it’s why you’re one of the most intriguing and charismatic signs in play. Still, I feel it could be useful, as you chase down all your labyrinthine ideas of what you want to come next, to have a simple, fixed set of tasks in mind. Pare down your priorities to their very most basic steps, then cross them off in linear order. Like: instead of, “Set a world record for backwards hopscotching” you’ll first write down, “Tie your ever-loving shoes.” Then do it. And then the next, tiniest thing, throughout the whole sequence.

Compare this route to what you do in your kitchen: Geminis are so into cooking, but they, in their grandiose intention, can often skip the basics in favor of trying to go full gourmet right away—and then end up frustrated when their creation (oh my god, Gemini, please calm down) goes first haywire and then into the kitchen garbage. No matter your level of culinary ability, make sure to account for the very first bits of acumen when it comes to what you’d like to cook next. Build a foundation, then go from there!

To demonstrate this mindset, let’s think about this as fundamentally as possible. Rice, a ubiquitous and dead easy staple worldwide, of course improves when you toast it first, cook it in stock instead of water, add aromatics, and/or employ innumerable other techniques. However: It is perfect, plainly, on its own—just steamed in water for a while. It’s obviously worth knowing how to cook it at its sparest so you can incorporate it into loopier contrivances down the line without having to toss the whole cckrrhrrreation. (Gemini, you lunatic, you are my lofty-ass favorite.) Taking time to learn the basics comprehensively assures that you can go forward with greater complexity. Slow down for once, twin style!


On the twelfth, the moon will be full in your sign, meaning you are going to be near-to-radioactive with the power of your own nuclear feelings. Since you can be a nightmare if you chomp back your needs, thoughts, and emotionzzz when they get “too intense,” (case in point: you want to bite my head off right now for pointing that out, even though I am saying this with love alone), make sure you’re not swallowing them in favor of becoming a passive-aggressive blockhead. It would stink to alienate your friends, squeezes, family, and whomever else is within spitting/loving distance exactly when you need their attention most.

Ask for and prioritize what you need, however hard (and even dangerous) that may feel. This extends to food: don’t wallow in meals that don’t feel good because you’re upset and won’t budge to do otherwise. Recognize that it’s worth substituting what you actually need for what, at first, seems like the more reliable and less cumbersome choice. Put in the effort to eat what makes you truly happy, whether that’s in making sure you’re getting fruits and vegetables into your body every day, or taking time to have dinner with friends even when you feel like isolating yourself, or whatever else you’re trying not to address.

Though, at first, every truly worthwhile pursuit might seem a little harder than what you’re used to, you’ve got Capricorn on your side. Once you get going in the honest service of bettering your world, you’ll find it’s way easier to manage and enjoy. I know you hate to hear it and want to disbelieve it, but, Cancer, this is a great year to invite your loved ones in for dinner, and for keeps.


A season determined by Saturn, for some of us, can feel wild morose. Beginning in the second century—by way of the polymathic Egyptian genius Claudius Ptolemy in his seminal Tetrabiblios—some astrologers have determined Saturn to be the “greater malefic”—the ultimate cosmic bad luck charm. This is mostly because of the planet’s utter frigidity. For a fire sign such as yourself, that psychic chill is a less than habitable temperature for your molten-ass moods.

How to defrost this air, Leo? Well, let’s melt the fucker with s’mores, fondue, grilled fontina-and-mozzarella sandwiches, and any dessert that could be accurately described as “molten.” I’m thinking of comestibles that ooze warmth, literally and figuratively. In the balaclava’ed face of spiritual frostbite, your attitudinal antifreeze looks a lot like toasted cheese.

Oh, and bear in mind! The Romans felt differently about Saturn—they had a days-long festival to recognize it and the god for which the planet was named. The era-defining poet Horace called the celebration “December liberty,” and that seems beyond apt, especially because it was all about free speech for every strata of the social hierarchy. (THINK ABOUT IT, BROS. This ol’ government’s time. Poli… tricks…)

ANYWAY! Get toasted, make up an eponymous dance move to honor your continued life force, enjoy your cheese in a sweater, and toast to us all by saying whatever the heck is in your ice-free heart. Mad love to you.


You have so many plans outside of what food you want to take down that it might crowd out thinking about your intake at all, let alone taking enjoyment in it. Given this sometimes-myopic zeroing in on your work/brain/output, please make sure to schedule time to cook/at least take two minutes to order in/attempt to actually taste the food you put in your mouth. When you burn out (and that is a when, if you ignore the advice just previous), let others cook for you if you feel resolutely dead inside. Just please eat.

A few foods that might feel the least attention vacuuming as you race around your days before flounder-flopping into bed: apples, those little containers of hummus with pretzel-filled hats, protein bars, grapes, carrot sticks, cheese, beef jerky, nuts, graham crackers, raisins (ahhahahaha just kidding raisins suck SO BAD; go with fruit that isn’t mummified), yogurt, Fritos, and bananas. Take an hour or so to stash a few of these things where you often are. Your MEGA-PRODUCTION won’t amount to much without them!

Meal-wise? The quickest way to be happy that I know about is condensed in Japanese curry roux mixes. With them around, it takes a lo-fi half hour (mostly boiling!) to engender a spicy, cinnamon-y bowl of chicken (or whatever protein) and vegetables and bliss. Serve it over rice; do yourself a goddamn favor! In any event: EAT, PAL. The rest of us dopier signs need your full-bore brilliance as much as you do, and without adequate fuel, I worry about you. Establish a drawer full of nuts at work. That’s all I ask. Happy new year; you’re going to create a great one. EAT.


Retrograde may have bungled the past two weeks or so for you—don’t you dare ask me about the meetings, parking spaces, and answering machine messages I have dislocated so far in this nude year. Thank god that’s letting up this week!

As such, there’s no need to immediately scrap any plans that have been less than attainable-feeling thus far! If you burned the ribs you dry-aged for a whole week, cracked your new pizza stone clean in two, accidentally kneecapped a new vegetarian diet by eating a brussels sprouts side with secret bacon, or missed a reservation at a restaurant with a million-year wait list (Mercury retrograde is terrible when it comes to keeping dates), it doesn’t have to spell doom for your culinary missions, whatever they may be. Those were false starts, and now’s a great time to crack your knuckles and get back in the kitchen/on the phone with the host in a very nice tone of voice for a second attempt.

You can be a bit harsh on yourself when plans don’t work out as you hoped they might, but the best means of moving forward is to try again, and double-check everything as you go. You’ll do a little better next time, Libra! And you’ll keep doing better, as is your wont.


It’s high time you make moves to scrape yourself out of any pessimism or “black dog”–type feelings, Scorpio. Even the smallest gestures to de-funk yourself will have enormously beneficial outcomes. Yeah, shit’s rough. Saturn, after all, is the greater malefic (see Leo, above). However: You are CURRENTLY ALIVE, which will not always be the case, and you deserve to trap any and all of the pleasures that that condition has to offer whenever possible, even if moving ’n’ breathing profoundly feels like the pits. Especially if.

As this translates to food, here are some antidepressants you might try: ice cream cake, pescetarian bisque, slow-cooked short ribs, plain seltzer with a strawberry all cut up into it (Pelly is classic, obviously, and tastes like licking an alp), whipped cream, blueberries, toffee, fresh-ass herbs, meat and vegetables and dairy from the farmers’ market, super-hot french fries dipped into a strawberry milkshake, and martinis.

You have to admit, even from whatever dreary state of mind you might have consumed this list within, the thought of at least one thing on it improved your mood by 2 percent. Eating what appeals to you will have a vastly elevating effect. Dye the black dog’s fur purple and get on with yourself, honey.


The season of Capricorn means pinning routines to our wayward lives to begin with, even if that feels like homework and we’d much rather appoint our energies to making out with an inappropriate person in the back of some car. We might have to eat salads—yes, plural, I’m sorry to say. Christ.

In order to make our missions to this effect feel more virtuous/guilt laden, it’s helpful to remember that lots of people don’t have affordable access to a lot of nutrient-heavy food, let alone the dickish position to thumb an irresponsible nose at it. I’m broker than is actually funny, but, for a lot of my life, I had it worse to the tune of stealing groceries/paying with quarters at Wendy’s, and when those are your “options,” you are very much not in the mood to hear some irreverent jerk moan about hating the taste of vital nutrients. I mean, I don’t want to assume your financial situation. But I do know that, if you can afford to eat stuff that’s good for you, that is an advantage that mad people in this world can’t enjoy, so you should do it—and donate money and/or time to places that feed others well.

If you can’t in fact afford much of anything, you can do like I did and start buying/stealing cans of low-sodium beans ($1 or less, about), frozen vegetables (usually on sale so that you can cop a few for like four dollars or less), and other low-cost bargain vita-groceries—learn what those even are here. You might want to lave any/all of ‘em with hot sauce so that you aren’t COMPLETELY jarred by the difference in bland-o (at first!) taste when you’re used to value fries and so on. (It took a little while to learn what non-purely-salt food was, for me! A scant few years later, I like almost everything except avocados, which are gross point-blank, and I even write to you about foods to enjoy and intermittently can save up to eat at Michelin-tired restaurants, which decidedly does not speak the palate I inherited/was once able to afford.)

What I’m driving at is, I think that, given that we are reading this online, we have it at least a little bit great compared with many people on this planet even when we have it rough, and so I like to eschew moaning about Making Better Choices whenever possible, plus help others eat when it’s feasible. Happy 2017. I hope your bad or good or whatever gets even better, and that everyone else’s does, too. Let’s eat the year whole, whatever it tastes like. Love to love you, so so much.