Welcome to Stargrazing, a column which divines your recommended intake based on your horoscope.
We’re now in the season of Pisces, and we will be until just before March ends. Pisces season translates to losing something that you have to admit isn’t close to you anymore, but still feels awful while it’s ending. Think: ill-fitting jobs/love/best friendships; a political awakening or seven; that secondhand yacht that you were never able to quite fix up like you hoped and other money-shredding matters; maybe you have to quit smoking or drinking and it sucks teeth as you start to do that; maybe you are discovering that health isn’t a forever-guarantee.
WHOA HEY THERE BUT: This season is coupled with another astral harbinger of mega-change: Venus retrograde. Hold on to your hamburgers, with Venus behaving the way it will from March 4 throughout the next month or so: when Venus dips out of view, so does decision-making and impulse control. (That sounds kind of fun to me, but I also know what a maniac I start to feel like after the third straight day of consuming doughnuts and wine exclusively.) Depending on your sign, though, maybe one of your problems is that you’re always tamping down your… not impulses, but natural inclinations. Venus can help with figuring out the difference!
Even if life has recently been manageable, it’s still going to improve—like finding out that your favorite restaurant added a perfect new something to its menu, or discovering that you have a favorite restaurant to begin with. It’s going to be hard before it gets better; your favorite restaurant might remove your very favorite thing in order to make room for the new one. But you won’t know about the new one yet, so you’ll feel, for a minute, very sad. I promise it’s not forever—and you can always console yourself with doughnuts and wine, if it comes to that. This is happening right before a much calmer and warmer—and more consistent—state of mind comes to you, and for you. It has to happen in order for you to be fulfilled and happy. (If you’re not: You can be, which is so wild.) Praise whatever you praise if that’s the case, no matter your sign. And then go bite the fucking walls for a while, because it’s going to be a li’l trying to earn that grace.
An applicable text message from my dad when I tentatively mentioned I was very sad today—and I never tell my family when I’m very sad:
Lito: Yesterday was a tough day for me but today was much much better that’s the way it goes you get one bad and then a lot of good ones and then one bad remember the good ones
Remember the good ones, and remember that food will still taste good even if you’re a freakin’ tears pond! If your life is shuddering through Pisces and Venus retrograde, you at least deserve to eat mad delicious things.
If you’d like to show me what cosmic meals you’d make, I’d love to then show everyone else—flash me a hi sign on Twitter or Instagram, and I’ll beam it out to all our fellow interstellar gourmands in the next column.
You’re ruled by Neptune, which is a conductor of music and art. In the weeks surrounding your birthday, go to a concert and eat/drink whatever refreshments they have on offer there. I don’t care if it’s oleaginous nachos at an arena, a martini at the opera (or, better, nachos at the opera—a girl can dream), a hot dog at a backyard DIY show, or a weed brownie, if you’re into that. If music be the food of love, get down with a plastic cup of beer and whatever else you can find at the concession stand.
You can also look to art to inform your eating. Make an aesthetics-based recipe that replicates your own level of beauty, like this green shakshuka, this almond-cardamom baklava, this kaleidoscopic king cake (it has a plastic baby stuck into it? sick), or these sexy homemade Twinkies (or just eat the prefab ones out of the package; are we serious!).
You can listen to whatever you like as you cook, no ticket stubs required. I think it’d be nice to choose something fresh, or at least fresh to you, instead of the same ol’. Pinegrove, out of New Jersey, put out a really earnest live album earlier this year, the pay-what-you-wish proceeds for which all go to the heroic discrimination-fighting nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. Kim Jung Mi’s 1973 LP Now is a South Korean lo-fi softness that’s good whether you like Nico or not, but particularly if (*Nico voice*) youuuuoooooooooooooh doooooo, and, of course, the new Sampha is its own ecosystem that’s super idyllic to visit. Pack a Japanese fruit sandwich for the trip. (*Nico voice*) Happy birthday toooooooooooooooh youuuuuuuuuuuuooh, rainbow fish, in all your colors and waves.
Aries, the only true thing about tomorrow is that it’s on its way to see you soon. There’s no use in sinking all your attention into it when right now exists. Being majorly preoccupied with what’s coming next will extend your days into a sentence to be served. Yes, something big is hurtling your way. That could be great! But maybe it’s, as Pisces/Venus are plotting, an emotional/functional asteroid. The right thing to do: go eat a rad snack with one of your friends, both of whom are worthy distractions from the apocalypse, and maybe even your partial defenders from it.
Another good way to feel more involved in the current moment is to busy yourself, and the preparation of food is great for that. Take on lots of cooking and baking projects in order to feel like you’re jumping from thing to thing as quickly as you’re wanting to in other areas of your life. Have two things on the stove, one in the oven, and a salad on the counter all at once, you know? (And have a cocktail, if you drink.) One plan: make a meal of bourbon-sugar steak (or imam bayaldi eggplant, if you’re vegetarian), charred, buttered asparagus, braised radishes, and a kale Caesar all at once. See? The present moment is stuffed with many great things, and now, so are you. See you tomorrow, as if you even care that much anymore.
It’s time to stuff your kitchen with fruits and vegetables that respond especially well to Pisces season, Taurus. You’re a natural-world champion, so focus on produce: what’s great, right now, are artichokes, bok choy, asparagus (Springggggg, get you ass in here already), grapefruits, and spinach—and more. Some aspects of your life are rooted in place no matter what, like your penchant for things that grow.
In the metamorphic spirit of this season, find unexpected endpoints for what comes to you naturally: this spicy grapefruit spritz is really attractive to me, chicken congee with bok choy is a March-dissolving dream, roasted artichokes with chorizo kind of speak for themselves, and if you’ve never had asparagus with risotto all around it, now’s the time. You can develop what you already know and rely on into something more complex, and you’ll have to this season, so enjoy a dinner that’s psychically similar to that process.
When you scatter your interests and motivators as a rule, Pisces/Venus-brand change is hard to detect up to and including the minute it’s shaking you up even further. I’d ask you to make a study of the familiar, sturdy, and reliable this season, you terrifically capricious goon. So: Can you please make a meatball? Actually, make a few.
Meatballs, even when you’re working with the everybody’s-Italian-grandma’s-best-recipe–style marinara kind, are stubbornly predictable. You are… not. So, sure, make the Italian ones and either make out with a hero overtaxed with them (like this, plus parsley if you love yourself) or over linguine, but also make tsukune, albóndigas soup, boulettes, and—fuck it!—spaghetti-and-meatball pie. (I’m bringing this last to my next family Thanksgiving, and I would even if I weren’t from New Jersey). Life can be consistent without looking or feeling (or tasting) totally uniform. It’s a good season to remind yourself of that via wads of meat.
Debbie Solomon, a chef out of Los Angeles who just happens to be the person in charge of Rihanna’s daily repast, recently did a charming interview with Bon Appétit about her career, taste, and ideology. At one point, she makes a remark that can be easily extended to everything beyond food that life has to offer—you should think about it! “I won’t waste my calories on bullshit,” says Solomon. (You can substitute the words time, feelings, or energy (like, but not in the “calories” way here—more figuratively.) “If I take a bite of something and it’s shitty to me, I’m not just going to eat it because I’m hungry. I’m going to stop eating that shitty thing.”
God love a Cancer, because you tend to raise a “bemused” eyebrow at that shitty thing, whatever it is for you right now, while secretly withering inside that your life includes it, rather than just shoving it the fuck off your plate. NO MORE, CRABCAKE. A consistent drag is going to make itself more stridently and shittily known than ever this season, and even you will have a hard time of ignoring that, or—if you’re being your very most aggressive—politely passing the plate to your left. If you stop eating that shitty thing, you might feel fuller in genero. However that goes in your wider life, I bet that if you made one of Solomon’s recipes, like this curry with chicken and potatoes, or insist that your meal be decorated with a selection from the array of spices she travels everywhere with, “bouillon-like Maggi cubes, curry, jeera (also known as cumin seeds), Old Bay seasoning, adobo, and five-spice, as well as garlic and onion granules,” you’ll be glad you did.
Decadent person, let’s honor your dramatism by extending it to a traditionally practical concern: breakfast. I get it! We’re supposed to eat chia, yogurt, and whatever the heck else “fuel.” But your sense of extravagance doesn’t quite play that, or at least not without a little groaning.
It’s a great season for waking up to something a little more exciting than what you’ve had going on lately, so translate that into food. Make the most vibrant and diverse fruit salad as yet known to humanity and eat it with honey. As a matter of fact, eat cheese with honey, as I did every morning on one very edifying trip to Italy. (Imagine me obnoxiously sighing, “Travel really does change your perspective…” through a face full of parmigiano-reggiano and bee snot or whatever honey is.) Who says vegan brownies are only suitable for every other time of day? Kimchi potato hash is my new religion; I just converted; praise Her. Identically copy a Turkish breakfast, or a Japanese one—if you choose the latter, you’ll get to have the similarly satisfying symmetrical experience of listening to Japanese Breakfast as you eat one, which rules. I love the thought of your days feeling special and intentional from jump. And of you changing your perspective via hard, nutty cheese drenched in honey.
You’re a fan of precision, detail, and the largest and most useful volume of information you can get in the shortest amount of time, including in your preferences for art; you’ll like the work of the food writer (and writer-writer) Mayukh Sen. Read his recent profile of Princess Pamela, a soul food chef/restaurateur. Sen beautifully recirculates her personality and importance in his investigation of what her food meant to those around her. (Sen’s piece is framed by Rizzoli’s recent reissue of Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook: A Mouth-Watering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes, but has wholly its own soul, or at least contributes even more to understanding the same great one.) Sen is also responsible for assembling this killer group of Iranian recipes like tamarind-stuffed fish, saffron rice pudding, and problem-solving nuts, which I want to stack on top of one another in my stomach like flapjaxxx.
Okay, Virgo, so we know that, like you, this person thinks that facts, history, and beauty are equally cardinal. But there is something very important to keep in mind here: you can apply these beliefs wherever you want. (Sen also wrote this wild exegesis on the generation of Cher’s 1980s acting career! It’s flooring, like everything he writes.) You can apply the meticulousness that, to you, feels most like care to all your different interests: your work, the enhancement of your brain, your dissections of the Lord God Cher. So: If you wanted to take a pipettes-and-calipers–level scientific approach to making something frivolous-feeling, like one of Molly Yeh’s eerily perfect funfetti cakes, now’s a great time to remind yourself that you don’t have to feel like you’re losing control (though, would that be the very worst thing? …she says, knowing that you think the answer is OF COURSE, DUMMY) if you’re having a good time.
Because you’re already figuring most of your life concerns out on your own pretty well, I just have a few weird koans for you this month, rather than a unified bit of gastronomical advice. One or more will work—that’s the horoscopes biz for ya, baby!!!!!—but it’s because I truly think they’re suited to your relationship with the planets, and with those around you:
— Get Chinese take-out all by yourself.
— I’ve always had the association that sauerkraut is for sophisticates (unless you’re a certain kind of European, where sophistication, like sauerkraut, is normal to you). Why not put on airs…by eating fermented cabbage?
— Eat chicken parm with linguine carbonara—under the moon, if possible.
Avail yourself to as much irreverence and moments of surprise as you can. Like you’ll have a choice. Enjoy it.
Your style direction for Pisces season: the palpable, visible belief that soulmates are real. You’re as brave as you are vulnerable, and you deserve to live out your version of the greatest love story ever told. If there is someone in your life that you love, now’s the time to tell them, even if it’s the second or third time that you have. I’m usually resistant to the idea that persistence is a viable romantic strategy, but if you keep trying—wine; dinner either at the restaurant you love most in the world or brought to their home in paper shopping bags, some assembly required—it might work.
If you are already in love, that’s lucky and cool. Either way: there’s someone waiting for you to show them how you feel, preferably over dinner. It’s hard for other signs, sometimes, to prioritize or interpret full-bore romance as prominently as you do. So make them coffee and toast (as with kissing, French is best, but any kind is aces) in the morning. Make them jollof rice. Bring them a fresh clementine when you’re just casually meeting up in the daytime, or an ice cream—nearly everyone likes to be surprised with those things; they feel good in some of the ways that love does. Do you know what their favorite candy bar is? Make it your business. Whatever you do, love-wise, this season: Prove it in what you do (and what they eat) more than in what you say. Jollof rice is the sexiest declaration of love there is, anyway. If all else fails: you can be soulmates with it instead.
The full moon on the 12th, which is a harbinger of huuuuge life alterations, is going to smack you smartly and hard unless you start taking stock of what, most possibly, could be about to change for you. (Really, Sagittarius: think about it for once, and ask your friends for a second opinion, because a large part of you might definitely want to be like, “LET’S KEEP PARTYING!” when they’re like, “Babe, is your face bleeding?”)
You’re fixing to fly off the axes on which you orbit in areas of love/friendship, work, and finances. Something isn’t working, and has been slowing in usefulness for quite some time, nearly imperceptibly and slowly, until now, as you increasingly, and diminishingly try to rely on it, like inverse warp speed.
This is—don’t hate me; I am you— a good thing. You have to admit a relationship isn’t working in order to remember who you actually are, and what you actually love, even if it means a lot of crying in the shower and discovering that part of that Truest Self™ turns out to be that you don’t in fact mind piled takeout containers as stylish, nouveau bedroom decor.
Okay, you might—it’s just that you’re going through it in one way or another. If you’re moths-for-pockets based on necessarily exhausting your finances because your insurance plan got mangled (hiiii!) or you lost your hateful job (which is often terrible at first, then a retrospective miracle), you’ll have to spend more time cooking, which is a transportive comfort if you’re freaking out about your life otherwise—exactly what I, your fellow Sagittarius, often need most when I can barely feel the floor beneath me. Southern Foodways Alliance recently shared a kind-spirited and helpful cookbook-zine, The New Economy Chapbook-Cookbook, with many inexpensive recipes up in it, including fresh apple cookies, masala dal, Jewish potato stuffing, and two different kinds of pozole. Or you could always do what I do: roast a chicken, then do any number of obscene things to it for a week, plus eat mostly produce-based meals (the latter: again, ultimately good for you). Here’s an idea of how that looks, starring my personal role model Marcella Hazan’s roast chicken. (The woman, not the chicken. Well, maybe both.)
Certain things have always been true for and about you, regardless of who’s around, including your partners, friends, employers, and/or creditors. Think back: What is the first food you can remember loving? I would imagine you still love it; have it by yourself on an evening enjoyed, cumulatively over your lifetime, how you’ve best liked to when you’re peaceably alone at home.
It’s not going to be like this forever, or even that much longer. Get through it with the person who loves and knows you best—and eat mad produce, roasted chicken, and masala, plus your oldest standbys. Lucky!
Obdurate Capricorn, the changes in store for this season will refit your old behaviors into brand-new habits and beliefs. As you’re finding out what those might be, loosen the heck up and have fun for a change—and not only because it’ll help you determine what you consistently want for yourself and your life going forward. Cram everything you can think of into a zesty crepe of your choosing. Stack up a borderline-parodic Dagwood. I once invented a deranged potluck non-classic that I like to call “candy salad”… maybe you would also like to insult basic common sense in that respect?
I’m not suggesting that these rarest of gastronomic treasures are going to become everyday meal-planning sensible staples. But I do think that it’s a relief, when you’re set in your habits, to discover that Milk Duds shaken into super-hot popcorn at the movies taste dope, as do french fries dipped into milkshakes, as do so many wild combinations. Try something that you’re unsure of every single day this season—let the world change you a little bit.
A few years ago, I met Tanya Fields, a community organizer in the South Bronx who heads up the Libertad Urban Farm and The BLK ProjeK, both of which correct regional and racial food-based and nutritional stagnation by including local women and children of color in the business of growing, learning about, farming, and eating locally grown produce. Fields’s old food column for Ebony is essential. In it, she addressed topics like the illogic of blaming mothers in underserved areas for the dearth of fresh, affordable healthy food available to their children and the intentional corporate creation of food deserts in poor neighborhoods. She is a force.
For all she’s built, Fields is an organization unto herself. You can be, too. You’re naturally helpful and kind, and with that comes the knowledge that poverty isn’t a moral failing, nor one of intelligence or imagination, and is often mischaracterized in those ways because of anti-black and -brown racism. When uncertainty is bearing down on you individually, the people in your life collectively, and certain parts of politics and culture, you can sharpen your focus to the cause of feeding others well. Give to The BLK ProjeK—donation options include buying a one-week share for a family of four to buying produce at Libertad (for $50) and funding equipment for the farm ($25). Or: You can serve food to people who need it at your local religious congregation or community center, or organize an online can drive, if you can’t give money or very much time. Whatever change comes next, more of that Aquarian goodwill is always needed. If you do that next right thing, you will help to settle, however slightly, the tectonic shifts in the lives of others, and your own. Thank you for that.