A Cosmic Take on Cuisine: The View From Brazil

Gian Paul, who has emerged as the Brazil bureau chief of Astrology Mundo and Lula watcher par excellence, is back with a fascinating look at cuisine and the cosmos, peppered by some personal insights. After all, this is a blog.

Here’s Gian Paul, a Swiss-born finance type who follows French astrology and loves Belgian chocolate. (Pralinée only, s’il vous plâit.)

In a recent edition of BusinessWeek, there are two alarming items, related and of astrological interest:

The first is that an increasing percentage of Greek children today are overweight, similar to in the U.S. The second is that nearly 3,000 restaurants and cafés have closed in France this year already.

The decline in the number of French eateries is most likely taking place in the Western Hemisphere as well.

What’s truly alarming is the speed at which things are going downhill in France, where a a gourmand culture has existed since before the French Revolution. One hundred years ago, a somewhat sophisticated meal consisted of six or seven courses or so. If it were a banquet, the number of courses would normally increase to 20.

BusinessWeek concentrates on the “economic” side of the issue, as one would expect for a business publication. So what’s the astrological angle?

I am a follower of the French type of astrology. One of the best French astrologers I know, Henry Gouchon, always related health issues with children to the planetary transits that they had in the first four years of their lives. An intriguing concept. Even more so because it’s possible to look up these transits much later in life, when some health problems have become chronic.

Many people struggle at one point or another in their lives with a weight problem. Some physicians find psychological reasons, while others cite early childhood habits or ignorant parents.

In astrology, health is associated with the sign Virgo and the sixth house. With Moon in Virgo opposing Mars myself, I am quite sympathetic to those with ulcers.

I used to be a financial analyst at one stage in my life, covering oil, chemicals, and drugs. Back in the Sixties and early Seventies, I remember there were practically no new drugs coming out of research. Then all of a sudden came Tagamet, the revolutionary anti-ulcer medication, as well as a slew of various anti-cholesterol drugs, beta blockers, etc.

Interested in astrology, I went searching for the astrological link. Drugs are related to Neptune. Here’s my theory: Neptune had to move out of Scorpio in the early Seventies and into Sagittarius in before drug research could make a quantum leap forward!

Unfortunately, these pharmaceutical breakthroughs were also accompanied by great advances in the adulteration of food. Interesting that the food industry is a favorite investment area of Warren Buffett, with his Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Cancer, which rules food.

We have witnessed the advent of an onslaught of sugar substitutes and food preservatives, as well as artificial flavors, fragrances, and colors.
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So, back to our poor Greek kids and French restaurant owners. Blaming Neptune’s passage through Sagittarius does not offer much consolation. However, thanks to the “mutual reception” of Neptune in Aquarius and Uranus in Pisces, we have an opportunity for scientists to discover what is truly healthy. (Mutual reception occurs when two planets are transiting signs ruled by one another.)

Having suffered from a heart attack and having cholesterol problems for quite a long time, I have been forced to become knowledgeable about this domain. Only eight years ago my cardiologists were insisting that I eat margarine, not butter. Now margarine is out.

I was happily eating eggs and red meat, while the drugs to control cholesterol were counterbalancing my excesses. Everybody was happy: Nestlé, Kraft, P&G, Pfizer, Bayer, Roche, and many others. Even good restaurants because I had returned as a client.

I realize that I’m not alone in adhering to one gastronomical regimen, only to be told by a doctor or the press that it’s “wrong,” and that I must change lanes. When everyone was jogging, carbs were good. Then, as people became glued to their desks and their computers, high-protein diets like Atkins and the Zone were all the rage.

For those who dismiss the “Mediterranean diet” as a fad, you’re wrong. It’s truly healthy and wonderful food. Too bad those Greek kids have abandoned this traditional way of eating.

And while Napa Valley vintners extol the virtue of wine as part of a healthy diet, they fail to tell us that new processes to mature wines more rapidly use quite a variety of Neptunian ingredients that are far from natural.

The Greeks who came to New York to run the diners for years may have the right idea: Go home to a little Greek island to retire. Enjoy a variety of local cheeses, olives, delicious tomatoes, and truly natural wine.

Thanks, Gian Paul, I’m off to a samba class to keep off the fat!

Carla Bruni: France’s Femme Fatale First Lady

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in months: I bought a magazine. I get all my news on the Web these days, but I couldn’t resist the glossy pages of the September Vanity Fair with Carla Bruni on the cover.

The VF stylists have Bruni, a former model, dressed in riding clothes for the cover photo by Annie Leibovitz. I’ve never owned a horse, nor am I to the manor born, but with all my Sagittarian planets, I love the horsey look.

The cover headline also sold me: “Carla Bruni: The New Jackie O?” Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bruni knows how to dress for the occasion. One of my favorite shots in the VF photo spread shows Bruni dressed in a prim tweed suit fit for a dowager and wearing flats as she chats amiably with Queen Elizabeth of England. No doubt the 5-feet, 9-inch former model didn’t want to make the Queen uncomfortable by wearing high heels.

A lot has been written about Bruni, a former muse to rock stars like Mick Jagger and a best-selling chanteuse in her own right, since she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy got married on Feb. 2 after a whirlwind romance.

Bruni’s colorful past has some French citizens questioning whether she is fit to be First Lady. From where I sit, she is the perfect First Lady for France. Her background (fashion and the arts) plays to France’s strengths on the global scene. Oh, and did I mention that she’s beautiful?

Claire Courts, the Frenchwoman who writes AstroRevolution, did an excellent post on Bruni, a Capricorn born Dec. 23, 1967 at 6:10 p.m. in Turin, Italy, and Sarkozy, born Jan. 28, 1955 at 10 p.m. in Paris, the day after their wedding. (Now that’s fast work!) You can read it here.

Courts has done a formidable job of analyzing both the charts of Bruni, who is Sarkozy’s third wife; the mercurial French President; and the composite that combines both their charts. Just so I don’t look like an astrological hitchhiker by linking to AstroRevolution, I’m going to weigh in with a few observations of my own.

VF says that when Bruni was 28 (ah, the old Saturn return!), Italian industrialist Alberto Bruni-Tedeschi told her that he was not her “genetic father.” Bruni learned that her biological father is Maurizio Remmert, a classical guitarist. So her success as a musician is due not just to nurture, but to nature. As astrologers, we might chalk it up to her Venus/Neptune conjunction in Scorpio.

Getting a sudden shock about one’s family reflects Bruni’s Virgo Moon conjunct revolutionary Uranus/Pluto. Interestingly, this Virgo stellium opposes Chiron in Pisces. Since Chiron is called the “Wounded Healer,” this aspect suggests a psychic injury concerning Bruni’s home or background.

Those who follow sun sign astrology might notice that Bruni is a Capricorn, an earth sign, while Sarkozy is an Aquarian, an air sign. These signs are next to, or adjacent, to each other. This position is usually dismissed by the cookie-cutter astrology books, which favor combos between signs of the same element (earth, water, air, or fire) or 60 degrees away (fire with air, earth with water).

Here’s a little secret that my longtime astrology teacher Eileen McCabe taught me: “Adjacents” frequently hook up because the two signs have much to teach each other. The staid Capricorn can give the revolutionary Aquarius some oft-needed discipline, while the Water Bearer can get the stiff-necked Goat to loosen up a little.

Now, you ask, what’s staid about Bruni? Well, she was to the manor born and was raised in a wealthy Italian family that is part of the Establishment. In contrast, Sarkozy is an outsider. He’s the son of immigrants who had to start over after leaving Hungary in 1947 and he did not attend any of the top schools that turn out France’s political leaders. In politics, he’s pursued a maverick style typical of an Aquarian.

Given McCabe’s theory about adjacent signs, it’s interesting to read in Maureen Orth’s VF article how Bruni has reined in Sarkozy’s flashy way of dressing, which had earned him the nickname “le President Bling-Bling.”

A footnote about the Bruni profile in VF: An editor’s note says author Orth turned in the piece a few days before her husband Tim Russert died.

While we’re on the topic of Vanity Fair, I wish the magazine would bring back astrologer Michael Lutin. The magazine isn’t the same without his Planetarium. Yes, I can read Lutin’s horoscopes elsewhere, but as an astrologer, I couldn’t wait to see how he was going to distill complex aspects and transits into a cocktail that the masses could imbibe.

I Thought a Frenchwoman Was Coming to Lunch

On Saturday morning, I opened my e-mail to learn that a former boss and his French-born wife would be driving through our neck of the woods on their way to the Finger Lakes in Central New York. Could he, his wife, and their two daughters stop by for lunch on Sunday? Bien sur.

I e-mailed back with my cell-phone number (I turned off the home phone about a year ago in a cost-saving measure), directions to the house, and a suggested time for lunch: noon.

Lest I sound too calm, please know that in my heart of darkness, I was quoting Kurtz: “The horror! The horror” of entertaining a Frenchwoman. All prepared foods, synthetic fabrics, and extraneous paper products (read napkins, paper towels, not toilet paper) would have to be hidden from view lest I be viewed as the sorry, overprocessed spawn of an American-based multinational.

I’ve read Colette, I’ve read Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat. No, I haven’t spent a year in Provence, but our town has a farmers’ market and I have a garden. I have known pastoral splendor on these Yankee shores. I would prepare a Hudson Valley lunch that would not embarrass my fellow Americans. More than personal pride was at stake here.

I moved into high gear with the vacuum cleaner, sucking up cat hair that had accumulated in the nooks and crannies of the house in the past month or so. I drove to the supermarket and bought a leg of lamb, which I cooked for my husband on Saturday night with a rosemary-lemon-garlic rub that I made in the food processor, not in the mortar and pestle so prominently displayed on the counter.

Lunch on Sunday would be cold lamb and chilled cucumber soup. My side dishes would be fresh succotash with lima beans, tomatoes, and corn from the local farmers’ market and a wild rice salad with pecans and cranberries. I would serve a homemade blueberry cobbler for dessert. To top it off, a crusty peasant loaf from Mario’s Bakery down the road in Hopewell Junction — Frenchwomen eat carbs and still don’t get fat!

All the while that I’m running around, I’m mentally noting that I haven’t gotten an e-mail back from ex-boss, who as a young man was known to be quite mercurial. (I haven’t seen him in 14 years, but that’s just the blink of an eye for an Army brat accustomed to hearing from people out of the blue.)

Still, I know that if I make no preparations whatsoever, the family will be ringing my bell at noon on the dot. Isn’t that the second law of thermodynamics, that the opposite of what you plan for will happen? 🙂 Maybe it’s just Murphy’s law, but it’s definitely a law in my book.

Of course, if I did nothing, when my guests arrived I could have always taken them to Homespun Foods on our lovely Main Street in Beacon, where Jessica’s salads, sandwiches, and soups would certainly pass muster with a Frenchwoman. But I did not want to serve the fruits of someone else’s labor to our honored guests.

Fast-forward to noon on Sunday. My husband has ironed the brightly colored Jacquard Provencal tablecloth (no Indian knockoffs here!), which has come out of the cabinet in honor of the Frenchwoman. The coordinating, but not matching (too cookie-cutter), cloth napkins are arranged on the table, as is the Noritake Sterling China china, a gift from my grandmother upon the occasion of my first wedding. Six sets of matching silverware! Now, that involved a lot of digging through the drawers. (Who takes these forks, anyway? I’ll blame it on the subletters in the interest of marital harmony!)

Plenty of ice in the freezer, homemade iced tea in the fridge, fresh cut flowers from the garden on the table. Outside, I have pulled weeds and picked up trash on my street, as far down as three houses on each side.

Nothing to do but wait and check e-mail. At 1 p.m. I call the house in California and leave a message on the home voicemail. I don’t have his or her cell-phone number.

You know the end of the story. My husband and had a lovely lunch à deux, and the house has never been cleaner. It’s Monday at 10:55 a.m. and I still haven’t gotten a cell-phone call or e-mail from my former boss. I left the other place settings on the dining room table because they look so beautiful.

For the astrologers who are reading this, perhaps a void-of-course moon is to blame.

The Penmanship of the U.S. Presidential Candidates

This post is a little “off message,” to use the jargon of the political pundits, because it’s not about astrology, the raison d’étre for this blog. Still, I can’t resist.

Even though graphology is considered a pseudo-science in the U.S., it’s taken quite seriously in France, where corporations analyze handwriting to determine whether you’re going to be a team player or a thief.

Obviously, it doesn’t always work. Just look at the case of alleged “rogue trader” Jérôme Kerviel, who was accused in January, 2008, of making unauthorized trades that lost billions for French bank Société Générale.

Anyway, leave it to the French wire service Agence France-Presse to come up with a mini personality reading of the U.S. Presidential candidates based on their penmanship. Click here to see the signatures and the analysis:

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Senator-Barack-Obama-John-McCain-US-Senator-Hillary-Clinton/photo//080518/photos_lf_afp/74f9396b01f42928dd9f818bcac0083b/;_ylt=Ah5HNDTQNSWXZx69Gr8vGFoDW7oF 

I consider myself to be somewhat of a wordsmith, but I had to look up the definition of choleric, which is part of the description of McCain’s personality. To save you the time, here it is, from the Wiki:

“A person who is choleric is a doer and a leader. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. On the negative side, they are easily angered or bad-tempered.”

Sounds right.