Planning menus around the zodiac only can be efficacious up to a point, because you just can't control all the tomatoes' aspects. Now that we have passed the smart-alecky age of discounting traditional saws as old wives' tales, we ought to go back and start planting according to moon phases.
In the meantime, clean out your astral houses and follow the signs to a satisfied guest, in the fish course of our three-part series.
LEO (July 22-Aug. 1): The Lion is the teen-ager of the zodiac. Like his namesake, he can be noble, generous, loyal, fearless, an able leader; and he can be arrogant, inordinately proud, dictatorial and profligate. He is a visionary, the first into uncharted territory, whether real or intangible. Neil Armstrong is a Leo, and so are Fidel Castro and Ray Bradbury, as were Napoleon Bonaparte, Orville Wright, Amelia Earhart, George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Samuel Goldwyn, Carl Jung, Benito Mussolini, Henry Ford (Sr.) and George Meany.
Leo is the original steak-and-potatoes man. He will appreciate good food when it is put before him, but he will never miss it. He is quite content with franchised fast food, and is the type to forget a meal altogether when absorbed in his work. Once he gets going on a project, you might as well not bother with haute cuisine; getting him to the table while it's still hot cuisine will be tricky enough.
Leo is at home with basic pub food: steak and kidney pie, stuffed pork chops, mutton chops and the like. Since he eats somewhat sporadically, he tends to be a vigorous eater -- the epitome of the Palm customer. He's not too fond of fried foods, and detests consummes and aspics and tea-party food. He does occasionally like spicy foods: pepperoni pizza, German sausages, chili'd Mexican fillings. Seve him Black Forest cake rather then mousse; blintzes over crepes suzette. He is surprisingly graceful, however, and is to be trusted with your slimmest stemware. He's good at the sink after dinner, too.
Leo has a leaning toward rums and fortified wines, gin-and-tonics, and the good old-fashioned highball. He is one of the lighter drinkers, and unlikely to become an alcoholic, even in Washington.
VIRGO (Aug. 22-Sept. 22): Virgo is the adult in the starry scheme. He is clear-headed, courteous, discriminating and very rank. On the other hand, he tends to be critical, pessimistic and a little backward-hanging. A surprising proportion of Virgos are actors, or vice versa: Sophia Loren, Anne Bancroft, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Alan Ladd, Maurice Chevalier, Sid Caesar, Peter Falk, Elliott Gould, Greta Garbo, Peter Sellers and Peter Lawford.
Virgo is especially fond of soothing, smooth-textured foods like cheesecake, avacado, cucumbers, oysters, squid, lox and cream cheese on bagels, pasta, pilaf, purees and pot de creme. Virgo will be one of the strongest supporters of the sushi bar and the ceviche salad. He likes cream soups, tapioca, rice pudding, spoonbread and sherbet. He prefers leeks and shallots to onions, and usually avoids garlic except when he succumbs to a violent craving for Italian food.
Virgo is fond of Manhattans and Dubonnet, slightly fruity wines, and flavored liqueurs after dinner. Periodically he turns teetotaler, and drinks Perrier -- usually just after one of his Italian binges.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Libra is the sign of marrigage, and ruled by Venus. He is scrupulously fair, diplomatic, dramatic, charming, emotionally stable, lazy, luxurious, prevaricating and endlessly argumentative. For such a balanced sign, he has a touch of the bizarre, but he is definitely an achiever, with a capacity for bursts of creativity. David Ben Gurion, Groucho Marx, Pierre Trudeau, Mahatma Gandhi, Arthur Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neill, George Gershwin, Franz Liszt, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Wolfe, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal are all Liberas. So is Jimmy Carter.
Libra is an urbane eater: Even if he wasn't when he started out, he studied the prevailing winds of haute cuisine as carefully as he did the political currents. He enjoys what used to be called "continental" restaurants, primarily French and Northern Italian but sometimes wanders farther afield into East European ethnics. He loves comparing restaurants, and will painstakingly list the merits and faults of a particular dish. Fortunately, he has a sufficiently discriminating palate so his advice is usually worth heeding.
When serving Libra in your home, attempt something a little beyond your capacities. He will admire and appreciate the effort, even if the sauce Godard isn't quite up to snuff. Veal is a good bet, and so are flounder, perch and pompano. Game, if you're game, and domestic fowl if you're chicken; sweet-and-sour mixtures, pickles and chow-chows, marinades and mustards. The best bet is a dish of your own devising, which he won't have ever had and which he can dissect ingredient by ingredient.
Libra likes the unusual flavor of aperitifs like Campari and Pimm's, Pernod, very dry, herbal vermouths and sazarac cocktails. He likes drinking, period, and has a real weakness for it. He is a coffee gourmet, too, and will be disappointed with "American" coffee even if you import Mrs. Olsen to serve it.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The sex sign, and governed by the dark Pluto. An intellect of great loyalty, willpower, magnetism and sensitivity; a self-indulgent, eccentric profligate or, worse, a ruthless enemy, vengeful, sadistic, self-destructive. You either in love him or you hate him, but you can't ignore him. The eyes have it: Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Vivien Leigh, Pablo Picasso, Grace Slick, Leon Trotsky, Marie Antoinette, Dylan Thomas, Kurt Vonnegut, Will Rogers, Robert Kennedy, and Jonathan Winters are all Scorpios. So, apparantly, is Dracula.
Scorpios don't have favorite foods, they have passions. On a streak of Japanese food, a Scorpio may hit the same restaurant three times a week for months. Moreover, he likes everything about food - shopping in farmers' markets, cooking, reading recipes - and he'll be happiest in the kitchen with you, chopping or stirring something.
Scorpio is as much gourmand as gourmet. He likes food of virtually every color, creed and national origin. He'll try anything once, and he's fascinated by anything new. He is as sensitive to delicacy as to robustness, and has good instincts for imrpovisation. All you need to do is involve him in the preparation, and he'll e happy with the meal. Be careful not to underestimate his taste, however: He will not tell you something is good unless he really likes it, and he'll be deeply offended if you assume he's just being polite. Scorpio is never just polite.
Scorpio enjoys alcohol as much as anyone and more than most. He has a good head for it, luckily; the rare Scorpio who overindulges is well aware of it, thank you, and you can't stop him until he's ready to stop himself. He has a real fondness for expensive wines and especially champagne, and believes a good wine is worth the money. (He's not much for thrift in general.) But he's an experimenter, with drinks as with everything else, and may order one of a number of favorite cocktails, depending on his mood.
A special caveat: Avoid getting into an argument over dinner with a Scorpio. He is the type to throw thing including food.
Mea culpa: Last week I inadvertently moved George Bush across the cusp from Gemini, where he is, to Cancer, where he's not. Bush didn't notice, whatever that means.