THERE ARE more things in heaven and earth, O Chef, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Or, to put it another way, those ain't just Twinkies glittering in the sky.
I'm talking about astrology, with a capital A and that rhymes with K and that stands for Kool-Aid, which is what you might as well be serving for cognac if you haven't planned your meals around the stars.
The astrologically enlightened hang signs around their necks, drink out of astrological coffee cups, adorn their cars with bumper stickers and arrange their itineraries in accordance with the stars. A few have been known to list "Scorpio" under "religious affiliation" on their college applications. A friend of mine actually wore -- once -- a white satin bikini covered with blue and gold Virgos sent by her former mother-in-law. (It's now functioning as a plant hanger in a Soho loft.)
So there you are, poring over every line of advice about the chances for true romance between your sign and hers, and feeding her any old entree that comes to mind. You say you spent all day in the kitchen whipping up cioppino for your Leo, and he still went home after the parfait? Well, no wonder. You might as well puree peas for a seal.
Just as a person's color preference and career choice is influenced by his horoscope, so is his taste in foods. A syndicated guide to the stars' aspects would be a lot more useful than social advice. I mean, "opportunity knocks" is all very well, but what's for dinner?
Fear not. You need never again run ignorantly amok amidst the avocados (ideal, incidentally, for that cool Cancer). Herein, and in the next two columns, we offer a culinary saunter through the stars.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Ram is the sign of the infant in the astrological mandala. His physical realm is thee head, and especially the mouth. On the positive side, Aries displays fortitude, faith and naivete; on the negative side, he leans to thoughtlessness and aggressiveness. Aries is an individualist, with a wide strip of flamboyance and a broad hint of sexuality. Among the famous Aries are Casanova, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Billy Holiday, Vincent Van Gogh, Harry Houdini and Marlon Brando.
When serving an Aries, think bold and bright: flaming desserts, multi-colored mixed fresh fruit, gold-wrapped candies, vivid crudites. Red meats tend to be favorites, but there is a tendency among some Aries toward various "healthful" diets. For these guests, try seafood -- lobster, crab, shrimp, bluefish, fresh salmon and tuna, and roe or caviar rather than the white-fleshed fish. Or serve long-grain and wild rice with allspice, or crisply stir-fried vegetables that run the color gamut for broccoli to carrot.
Aries prefers a drink with something to say: dry white wine, a succinct gimlet. Never over-splash his highball; watery drinks offend this fire sign.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The bull is the baby of the stars, and influenced by Venus -- and if that combination doesn't scare you off, you'd better settle in for a siege. Taurus' positive characteristics include patience and steadfastness, but the other side of that purposeful streak is obstinance and even blind prejudice. Not surprisingly, many Taureans are politicians, leaders or demagogues: Ho Chi Minh, Adolf Hitler, Nikolai Lenin, Karl Marx, Ulysses S. Grant, Golda Meir, Niccolo Machiavelli, Catherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth II and Harry Truman. (Interestingly, none of the leading presidential candidates, Democrat or Republican, is a Taurus. That, of course, may be the problem.)
Taurus has a fondness for poultry and wildfowl, although the rubber-chicken circuit may have put a damper on it. While he will dig into most ethnic cuisines, he is apt to confuse his taste buds with his politics, abjuring Russian restaurants during Cold War scares, for example. He enjoys the presentation of multiple courses, but has an underlying preference for the relatively simple recipe: light sauces and fresh herbs rather than floury gravies and heavy salt. He likes his food in traditional order: eggs are for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and never the twain shall meet. Taurus has a sturdy distaste for canned mushrooms and frozen strawberries; he may conceive a lifelong distrust of the careless cook who uses vine ordinaire tomatoes in a sause. And he likes food that fights back: small game birds with crunchy, edible bones, Szechuan whole fish in black bean sauce (starting with the head) and barely-cooked vegetables.
Taurus is a pretty straightforward drinker, primarily of red wine, beer and whiskey, but he'll spend extra money to get his own definite "brands".
GEMINI (May 21-June 21): The child, under the aegis of Mercury, is versatile, perceptive, sensitive and informal; he can also be restless, expedient, superficial and compromising. He has a touch of the exhibitionist and a musical streak as wide as both his backbones. Among the famous Gemini are Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Burl Ives, Al Jolson, Peggy Lee, Paul McCartney, Dean Martin and Rosalind Russell.
Gemini is a joyous eater; it's hard to go wrong for his taste. He is one of the strongest fans of ethnic foods, even of that bastard variety euphemistically known as carry-out Chinese. He is apt to keep his pantry stocked with jars of little pepper sausages and anchovies, and may even make his own spaghetti sauce. When he hosts parties, which he does often and charmingly, he experiments with mixed menues, like cream of cauliflower soup followed by smoky barbequed ribs (he also has a talent for mixing guests). He was the first person on the block to cook soul food.
Gemini likes to pile it on: Turn him loose in a salad bar and he'll have a foot-high rabbit hutch assembled in 30 seconds flat. Lay out a tray of deli goodies and a couple of bottles of dark beer and he's content; a curry with bowls of nuts and raisins and coconut and peppers; a plain old hibachi'd hamburger with all the condiments.His birthday favorite: a sundae party with four ice cream flavors and syrups and nuts and jimmies and cherries and whipped cream and all that jazz.
Gemini is a flighty drinker, imbibing one drink exclusively for months, and then dropping it flat. You'll just have to keep a completely-stoked bar to be on the safe side (and to match his, which will never be short a drop of bitters).
CANCER (June 22-July 21): The adolescent, child of the Moon. Fanciful, sentimental, tenacious, moody, stingy, biting, jealous. Cancer wants to shape the world to his own visions, either by rational persuasion or, in some cases, by force. Among the Moon Children are Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Ingmar Bergman, Julius Ceasar, Henry David Thoreau, Rose Kennedy, Dorothy Kilgallen, John Chancellor and Henry VIII. George Bush is a Cancer, whatever that means.
Cancer is a demanding eater; he is equally likely to be as finicky as Morris as to be virtually insatiable. He's the kind who runs wild in a cafeteria. The picky Cancers are, incidentally, very precise eaters, as well -- graceful, efficient and very correct.
In general, he likes plain food, but of high quality: simply roasted chicken, milk-fed veal in the gauziest of sauces, rare tenderloin. He is not daring about vegetables, prefers rice to potatoes and likes fruit, although he rarely thinks about it. This is not a "coulda had a V-8 type." On the other hand, he does like organ meats, especially the more delicate ones like sweetbreads, and he has an astounding addition to sweets. This passion becomes the measure of a Cancer's stamina: It either adds to his girth, or to his self-discipline.
Most Cancers appreciate good wine and tend toward the dry. However, a large number of them have succumbed to the frank pleasure of scotch, and almost all of them are fervent believers in potent after-dinnger drinks.