Astrological and Vegetable-Heavy Too

Monte Farber and Amy Zerner

“Signs and Seasons” is an astrology cookbook by Amy Zerner, Monte Farber, and the chef John Okas. The book teaches you about the various foods that “feed your sign,” and describes the various ways we entertain, cook, and eat, according to our signs. For instance, Leos do not like to be seated next to someone who won’t listen to their stories, and they really like corn, peaches, mozzarella, and saffron.

Do you believe in astrology? Do you know what it is? Depending on which source you consult, the population of the United States is around 323.1 million, and one-third of that number believes in astrology. Over 90 percent of people know their sign and well over half of them believe the characteristics ascribed to that sign are accurate. More than half of millennials believe astrology is a science.

In the simplest terms, astrology is the study of movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on humans and the natural world. It was devised in the Middle East and classical Greece between the fifth and first centuries B.C.E. It is based on the 12 signs of the Zodiac, a word derived from the Greek kyklos zokiakos or circle of life.

I am a Libra and I believe the personality traits pertaining to Librans are very accurate: fair, balanced . . . indecisive. I know my numerology number (9), have had my palm read and Tarot cards interpreted, I wish upon stars, and I pluck daisy petals to determine if “he loves me.” So, needless to say, I totally dig this book.

The cookbook is basically divided into the four seasons and emphasizes what is appropriate for each. In other words, if you are an Aquarian, you are destined for wintry foods like choucroute garni and oyster stew with Gruyere and potatoes, hearty wintry, slow-cooked dishes. 

A refreshing aspect of the book is that it is very vegetable-heavy, and the recipes are mostly Mediterranean and a bit Middle Eastern.

Mr. Farber and Ms. Zerner have been residents of Springs for many years. They have written numerous books on astrology and Tarot, and Ms. Zerner is an artist and clothing designer specializing in “robes of rapture,” caftans, jackets, and scarves that are sold at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. 

Her “spiritual couture” has been worn by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, and Oprah. John Okas has worked as a private chef on the East End for years and is a consultant for the Highway Restaurant in East Hampton.

If the general population followed their simple advice in the introduction, we wouldn’t need or have so many fad diets. “We study the Zodiac to learn harmony and balance. Harmony and balance also happen to be basic principles of fine cooking and sound eating.” 

“By thinking ‘more of this and less of that’ rather than ‘this is forbidden and that is compulsory,’ we can revive our attitudes toward eating and cooking and toward life,” they write. 

I can’t say whether their astrological-culinary profiling is accurate, except for the Libra sign. I like scallops and oats, apparently. True! My favorite herbs are vanilla and cinnamon. Close, but those are actually spices not herbs. I am good at flower arranging and have a hard time deciding what to eat on a daily basis. True. I don’t like spicy food. Not true. Ratchet that chile pepper to 10,000 units on the Scoville heat scale, I can handle it.

There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and original recipes in the book, such as deviled eggs with diablo slaw, sriracha salmon cakes, polenta bites with sage-hazelnut pesto, cauliflower-potato curry with spaghetti squash. I’m not too excited about some of the Libra dishes, so what the heck, I’ll invite an Aries over and we’ll have some of their balanced and harmonious recipes.

Each section has color photos taken by Mr. Farber, and many of the dishes are plated on fabrics or artwork by Ms. Zerner, which is all fabulously Stevie Nicks-ish with patterns of swans and stars, lily pads and sparkly beads, and color, color, color.

Whether you believe in astrology or not, it’s still a fun book to read, and you can “feed your sign the food it craves” as the cover suggests. I’m off to make the Libra apple crumble. Or the scallops with Israeli couscous. Or maybe the butternut squash lasagna, I can’t decide. . . .

Beet salad
Grilled branzino with zucchini medallions