HOROSCOPES, as is their purpose, presume to tell us what to do with our lives: whom to love and not love, which job to take and which to turn down, which stocks to buy and which days to stay home in seclusion and which to venture out and raise Cain. From birth to death.
But they neglect to provide us with astrological "do's" and "don'ts" where food is concerned.
No wonder -- an awesome responsibility, that! After all, who among us isn't involved intimately with food, even if -- like Aries -- we don't particularly care for it? Thus, a thorough knowledge of the astrology of food could confer the very essence of power and influence, to say nothing of making us social giants. Think of it: A dinner party where the host and hostess possess beforehand a foolproof familiarity with each guest's food preferences -- even to the point where they know what each one absolutely detests.
Not only could the meal be a guaranteed success in terms of menu, but in conviviality as well. After all, an Aries does not enjoy the company of a Taurus at the table, the latter being fond of food purely for food's sake.
The host might even try inviting only Geminis or Cancers or Libras, the upshot being a menu that couldn't possibly miss the mark.
All of that and more is attractively -- and often amusingly -- presented in a 217-page book titled "La Cuisine Astrologique" (Solar Publications, 40 francs), published recently in France. (Unfortunately, the book has not yet been translated into English.)
The authors are recognized food authorities Marie Geberg and Monique Maine, in collaboration with food naturalist Robert Masson and astrologers Olenka de Veer, Anne Bernard and Ida Bastok.
The group leaves few stones unturned. "La Cuisine Astrologique" tells us what dishes we "love," which we "hate," which are good for us, which bad and even what colors of food we prefer -- all determined by our astrological signs. Finally, there are menus and recipes for each, and succinct descriptions of our social roles at the table. Taurus, for example, is the "pig" of the zodiac, and Sagittarius the "talker," but they get along beautifully when dining together.
Following are "La Cuisine Astrologique's" bottom-line zodiacal determinations.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The table's "personality kid." The electric presence of Aquarius keeps the table enlivened, especially with his or her accounts of endless travels and countless encounters with food. "So much of today's cooking is trite, boring, tacky," Aquarius may say. Ham and potatoes are routine; one's food should be elegant, glamorous. Aquarius' own kitchen is filled with extraordinary utensils and ingredients -- and he'd be only too happy to tell you exactly where he got them. Favorite menus would include pa te' seasoned with fresh basil, crab timbale, caviar, eggs benedict (but only if it sported real truffles), shrimp with fresh pineapple, Haitian-style roast suckling pig, whole baked salmon with fennel sauce, roast beef perfumed with black olives, parsley and lime, turbot with a port wine sauce, osso bucco, sole veronique, pineapple beignets, lemon souffle', and the most expensive chocolate candies.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The table's confirmed "mystic" and alcoholic. Even while Pisces may end up under the table, he or she is up-to-date on food. The crystal should be glittery, the wines flashy and sparkling. If they are, Pisces will enjoy the evening thoroughly, and the guest will enjoy Pisces. The food should be spiritual, preferably something he has just read about somewhere. The latest "in" dish is "the most," even if it's vegetarian in concept. In fact, Pisces is something of a dieter. Favorite herbs are mint and marjoram. Preferred menus would include a cucumber and tomato salad vinaigrette, celery remoulade, crudites, a selection of mild cheeses, rabbit en gele'e, roast of veal seasoned with tarragon and served in its own juices, chicken in port wine sauce, broiled fillet of sole with slivers of poached vegetables, shad roe, bouillabaisse, raisin tart and mango mousse.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): The table's demanding "blusterer." Eats merely for the sake of eating. Insists on an orderly table; becomes incensed if the cook strays from a standard recipe. Wants no surprises, either in food or dinner partners. Likes everything red: red salads, red meats, red vegetables, red desserts, red wine. Also prefers hot seasonings like those found in Arabian and African cooking, platters that are rich and spicy, because he considers himself "rich and spicy." Examples: empanadas, gazpacho, anchovy sauces, couscous, veal paprika, chicken with curry or tomato, chicken Louisiana, bouillabaisse and rare roast beef with green peppercorns. However, such dishes are bad for Aries' constant indigestion. Doesn't want too much seafood -- and never crab. Detests vegetarian dishes, and won't even taste oriental offerings because "they're too delicate." Favorite seasonings are rosemary and thyme. Favorite desserts include red raspberries, strawberry tart and cherries jubilee. After gulping food, Aries wants to leave table immediately, but can be talked into remaining until others are finished if host plays military music on the stereo.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The "pig" of the zodiac. Loves to eat, so is a good dinner guest; a gourmand rather than a gourmet. Likes a full, sensuous-looking table, filled to overflowing. Adores a spectacular-looking buffet; even treats a picnic as a grand production. Likes to cook, especially in a well-stocked kitchen, and doesn't like to see guests pick at their food. Becomes installed at the table; would stay for hours if possible. In fact, makes most of his social contacts over a meal. Likes anything that is fattening, especially sugar, cream and butter. Fond of pale meats, such as veal, chicken and most seafoods, and such beverages as champagne and diet drinks. Favorite menus would include celery soup, coquille St. Jacques, shrimp casserole, blanquette de veau, lobster in a cream sauce, chicken lightly perfumed with garlic, turbot with a white wine sauce, sweetbreads, potatoes au gratin, Grand Marnier souffle' and chocolate mousse. But chocolate, coffee and smoking are bad for Taurus.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The table's "entertainer." Not really interested in food; doesn't even know what he's eating. Doesn't go to a restuarant to eat, or to a table for nourishment. Wants to know first of all: "What are we here for?" Plays with the silverware and makes designs on the tablecloth. Would rather sit there and talk about business, meanwhile nibbling at the food. Is happiest at a business luncheon where plate can be pushed aside. Will scatter shells from nuts all over the table, eventually forgetting to eat at all, twisting and turning in chair until he or she finally gets up and leaves. Nevertheless, is the humorous one at the table, the embellisher, the storyteller. If he r she must eat, preferences run to eggs, fish, chicken and lamb. Never garlic, and seldom onions. Preferred menus would include avocado vinaigrette, spinach salad with mushrooms, poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, creamed asparagus, seafood terrine, saute'ed veal with lemon, chicken with raisin sauce, mixed grill, fillet of sole with chablis sauce, steamed spinach flavored with ham, cherry tart, melon balls and raspberry sherbet.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): The table's "little baby." A good dinner guest. Will eat almost anything. However, prefers soft, creamy dishes. First prerequisite is that he or she dine with the family; is convinced that no one can cook better than mother. A dreamer, he or she may forget what's going on and leave the table before the meal is finished. Should not be scolded, however. Should be brought back and soothed with mint-scented milk or a white pudding. Loves pure'ed soups, cereals, white sauces, fish, white meats, cheeses, very ripe fruit and warm tarts. Favorite menus would list potato soup, creamed celery, eggs mimosa, sardines, calf's brain with brown butter, chicken served with some form of tomato sauce, roast veal, steak tartare, mussels in a white wine sauce, gnocchi, spaghetti, stewed apricots, English pudding, cre me caramel and eggs a la neige.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The table's "royalty," the one to be afraid to invite. Attitude is one of obvious superiority. Prefers richest and most expensive dishes, reminding him or her that he's the grandest person present; the generous lord. And don't try to fool Leo -- he'll know an $8 cut from a $12 cut every time. In fact, is apt to do the checking personally -- inspecting the glassware, silverware, napkins, tablecloth, flowers, as well as the food. Everything must be luxurious. Even takes into account the attractiveness of the other guests. Still, Leo is the table's charmer -- bright, witty and entertaining. Where food is concerned, likes everything, provided it's of highest quality. However, preferences run to eggs, fowl, seafood, fruit, nuts and chocolate. Favorite menus would list cream of crab soup, caviar, coquille St. Jacques, pheasant with foie gras, beef wellington, lamb with a piquant curry sauce, lobster a l'Americaine, prawns a la nage, oysters en brochettes, spaghetti carbonara, cucumbers saute'ed in butter, artichoke hearts with a light mustard dressing, fruit salad, chocolate a l'orange and apricot tart.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The table's "hypochondriac." A difficult dinner guest. Everything must be strictly prepared because Virgo is afraid that food will make him or her ill. Likes to go to the kitchen, but not to cook. Wants to be sure that all ingredients are immaculately fresh and properly used. Table and all appointments must be spotlessly clean. Otherwise, there might be germs. Wipes silverware with napkin before starting to eat. If there's a drop of wine spilled on the tablecloth, the rest of the meal is spoiled. Is so afraid of what is going to be served that on arriving he may say that he's already eaten but thought he'd come anyway. In fact, don't be surprised if Virgo comes in with an array of medicine bottles, which are placed next to his plate. Even so, while telling everyone about his poor health, will eat and drink everything in sight. Prefers cereals, salads and grilled meats. Favorite menus would include salad nicoise, prosciutto with fresh figs, pot roast of beef or veal, creamed chicken in pastry shell, lamb brochette, grilled sweetbreads, veal kidneys with fennel sauce, salmon en papillotes, carrots vichy, rhubarb tart and poached pears with red raspberry pure'e.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The table's "arty" one. Manners are impeccable. A favorite of the host and hostess who like to serve Oriental cuisine. Everything must be nicely done up, beautiful to look at, fit to be photographed for a magazine. Aesthetics are everything -- table, food and guests. Presentation of food is more important than its nourishment, or even its flavors. Libra will taste things in tiny quantities, tell the host how divine they are and then won't eat anymore. Nothing heavy, nothing fattening; no rustic dishes. Recipes must be intricate; ordinary dishes are a bore. Favorite menus would include crab cocktail, a salad made with baby shrimp, papaya, avocado and pineapple, roast pigeon with black olives, Vietnamese pork with ginger, tournedos with a light cream sauce perfumed with shallots and white pepper, salmon dressed with an anchovy and brown butter sauce, scallops in a light thyme sauce, veal kidneys with an anchovy butter sauce, brochette of prawns, compote of pink and red fruits, pears belle helene, crepes suzette and Irish coffee.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The table's "food expert." A veritable chef at the table. Food is a sexual experience, romantic. Wild about everything that's "wild," especially incendiary condiments. Should coat stomach with oil before eating -- so hot does Scorpio like seasonings. Being sensual, wants guests as well as the food. Starts with onions and goes on to garlic, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Positively adores African, Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. A confirmed Tex-Mex fan. Favorite menus would list hummus, chili, mushrooms a la grecque, curried lamb, duckling with green peppercorns, chicken African, moussaka, rabbit with mustard sauce, tripes baked with garlic, onions and white pepper, poached haddock sprinkled with fresh paprika, squid baked with onions, black olives and cognac, chocolate cake, lemon tart, pears poached with candied ginger and linzertorte.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): The table's inveterate "talker." Only two things are important -- that the meal involve intelligent discussions and that everyone have plenty to eat. The table's know-it-all -- from sports to international affairs. If you want to make Sagittarius happy, seat a movie star to the left and a senator to the right. If you don't, he or she will sink into a state of depression. Pretending to be intellectual, will keep an eye on the food, nevertheless -- eating everything within reach. Despises diets and doesn't want to be around anyone who is on one. Particularly fond of good bread, salt-free butter, rich sauces and chocolate -- "everything that is bad for the liver." Favorite menus would list quiche lorraine, garlicky sausages, fondue savoyarde, pot roast of beef, filets of beef dressed with mustard sauces, veal perfumed with tarragon, cassoulet, fresh pork roasted with potatoes, onions, garlic and thyme, sole meunie re, grilled salmon, braised celery, souffle's, mousse au chocolat, fresh fruit compote, strong cheeses, double cream and sabayon.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The table's big "dieter." Also its wallflower and complainer. The world is forever in dire straights, and very often because people are wasteful. The table and food must be frugally presented. Absolutely no waste! Is afraid the food will be left over and will have to be thrown out. Capricorn's countenance, therefore, is serious. In a better mood, the humor is there -- but it's dry. Is discriminating in food preferences, but shuns rich sauces, a conglomeration of herbs and spices, rich cakes, and the use of alcohol in cooking. Dotes on health foods. Favorite menus would list salads made with bean sprouts and shredded carrots, green beans sauced with salt-free butter, rabbit perfumed with thyme, braised lamb, ham with pineapple sauce, roast goose served in its own juices, fresh fish with a light saffron sauce, artichokes, baby peas, fresh figs, sherbets and fresh strawberries lightly sprinkled with lemon juice.