Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eating and Drinking with the Stars

I’ve already written about my approach to wine selection. After poking fun at a wine connoisseur and having him retaliate so eloquently, you might think I had finished the subject, but alas, the latest issue of Food and Wine opened up a whole new bottle of wine-related entertainment. Care to join me for a glass or two?

Let’s take a look at a delightfully provocative chart titled “An Astrologer’s Cosmic Guide to Food and Wine.” Now, my apologies to any readers who might find more meaning than entertainment in the world of astrology. My views on the subject are heavily influenced by deep scientific skepticism paired with a Methodist upbringing. I simply cannot take astrology seriously, but as you know if you’ve read this blog for a while, there isn’t much I do take seriously, at least in the long run. Read the quotations on the sidebar.

Back to cosmic food and wine. The chart shows tasting style, favorite foods, and favorite wines by astrological sign. Sadly, for both me and George, the chart is pretty inaccurate. For George, in fact, it’s wildly inaccurate. He is a Taurus, and the article states that he is sensual and loves luxury. Hmm. Not exactly. He’s more of a thrill-seeking speed freak who would rather carbo-load and go mountain biking than sip champagne and nibble strawberries while sailing on a luxury yacht.

George's favorite foods should be, according to the chart, rich or sweet foods like almond croissants. If he were starving, he might touch a sweet croissant, but in real life, he’s a savory meat man for sure: steak, burgers, braised meats. Oh, and bacon. My, does he love bacon. His favorite wine, again according to the chart, should be a full-bodied Chardonnay when in fact he only drinks white wine if the food absolutely won’t go with red.

My zodiac sign is a bit more complicated, simply because I was born in the cusp between Sagittarius and Scorpio, which means that I could go either way. So to speak. My tasting style should be either “excitable, enjoys the unfamiliar” or “intense, loves routine.” Neither really fits well. I’m not unduly excitable, though enthusiastic might work, especially where food is concerned. When I asked George if he would describe me as “intense,” he responded, “Good God, no!”

As for “enjoys the unfamiliar” and “loves routine,” well, the answer is yes to both. So perhaps the Cosmos has that right because of the cusp thing. For instance, the first few times George and I visited Indian restaurants, I tried all sorts of different things and enjoyed them all, but after ordering the Chicken Korma at Amar India, I get it every time. Cashews and white raisins blended with butter and cream in a rich, spicy sauce poured over chicken makes me happy. But you just never know when something else completely different will call out to my palate instead.

Basically, good food appeals to me. Even almond croissants. And especially anything chocolate.

As for my cosmic favorite foods, the chart says I enjoy pungent foods like Roquefort cheese. Um, no. I prefer brie or havarti or parmesano reggiano when it comes to cheese. I’m also supposed to like fragrant, exotic foods like Moroccan tagines, but while I do enjoy fragrant, exotic foods on occasion (I particularly remember a delicious aromatic Thai dish with fresh flowers in it), give me a big bowl of chicken and dumplings or a simple medium-rare rib-eye or a big salad with grilled chicken breast or a slice of my grandmother's chocolate fudge cake, and I’m a very happy woman.

To this point, I’d say the Cosmic Guide has not scored well when it comes to predicting the Raihala family food and wine preferences. Then, I read the Scorpio wine preference. SCORE ONE FOR THE COSMOS! The Guide says I like powerful, spicy reds such as Malbec. Yummy! I definitely prefer a wide range of big-bodied, complex, spicy, fruity reds like Zinfandels, Cabernets, and, yes, Malbecs. The Sagittarius wine preference was for lighter reds, which are okay but not my favorites.

Like all systems, astrology tries to take a complex, highly individual process and make it all ordered and predictable. Sometimes, the system gets it right from sheer coincidence, but mostly, people just eat and drink what they want. The fun in applying astrology to food and wine is that you can create themed meals based on these (in my opinion) arbitrary criteria. Wouldn’t that be a fun idea for a whole year for a dinner club? In fact, the article preceding the chart in Food and Wine gives recipes for an Aries-themed dinner party, and it sure sounds good.

So, check out your astrological food and wine style and tell me if the Cosmic Guide works for you. Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. This is quite entertaining. I am a Cancer, so the chart says I am "Reflective, intuitive, cautious, traditional." I will agree with "reflective," "cautious," and "traditional"--though instead of "cautious," I usually say that I am not a gambler. But "intuitive" is way off base. I am much more logical/rational than intuitive. I was raised by an engineer, am surrounded by engineers (including my dear husband), and I get along very well with engineers. I was an English major, but I most love teaching grammar, the math-like side of English.

    But on to the food: It says I like "mild, soothing foods like ice cream." It is true I love ice cream (more for the cool sweetness than for mild soothing, but OK). And I also love mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, both of which I consider mild and soothing--though I would definitely pick garlic mashed potatoes over plain. But I also love chicken enchiladas, black beans and rice, and chips and salsa--none of which I consider mild and soothing.

    On the wine: I've never had a "Luscious Grenache." My favorite white wine is Riesling, and I'll drink pretty much any red. I don't like California Chardonnays or flinty Pinot Grigios.

    When I scan down the list, there is no one profile that fits me completely, so I guess the Cancer one is as good as any.

    Your idea of a year of dinner parties based on the profiles sounds so fun! If we lived in Ohio (or you in Florida), I'd call you up to arrange it!

  2. Oh, Sharon! Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Too bad OH and FL are so far apart. Sounds like we like a LOT of the same foods and could have fun at a dinner club. Good food, great conversation!

  3. I'm a champagne girl myself, without need of an occasion. As for cheese, my husband took me on a picnic once when we were dating. He brought wine and Roquefort cheese. I picked out the mold and told him the cheese was delicious. He married me anyway. Yep, I'm with you on that Brie...

  4. This was very fun, and especially Lou's comment on the previous essay you wrote on wine. Did that surprise you? It surely made me laugh because he is sooooo defensive. ;-)

    Since you moved from near this area, the Shenandoah Valley Wine Country has started to mimic the Napa Valley Wine Country, and we live right in the midst of it on a mountain top from which we watch the Eldorado Forest being turned into vineyards. This is Zinfandel country! The soil and climate make it unique in that regard, at least as I understand it. You might see Boeger wine in your market, since it is the fastest growing of the 200 and some odd vineyards currently here.

    I am a Capricorn, but the chart is only correct about me being observant. "Hyper-observant" would be even more accurate. My generation (ANCIENT) was for cocktails, before wine became a staple, so I much prefer a Manhattan. But I shop for wine, for our guests and for gifts, exactly the way you do.

    "Two Buck Chuck" is what they call the Charles Shaw wine from Trader Joe's here, and I keep it on hand because it's such an amazing buy. Is the nickname the same where you live? And is it $1.99 there too?

  5. Bahb,

    For my rebuttal of Lou's comment, see this post:

    Yep, Charles Shaw wine is called two-buck chuck here, too. Not sure about the actual price in this area though.

    I'll keep an eye out for Shenandoah wines. Thanks for the tip!


  6. Your reply to Lou was just priceless, Susan, and I also had a ton of fun reading about Nick having "rocks" in is body, and loved your wedding and anniversary photos......can hardly wait to read more when I'm not under the gun for time!



Thanks so much for taking time to comment!