Together, we host Tarot by the Mouthful: a mouthwatering, multi-media culinary tour through the world of Tarot.
Sublime recipes. Soulful stories. Essays, videos, interviews and delicious surprises.
Join us every Sunday for a new installment — and get ready to sip, slurp, crunch and savor your way through the entire Tarot deck!
This week: Nine of Wands
Nine of Wands: Defensiveness; needing to protect your turf. You’re ready to re-enter the ring, to fight or defend, as needed. The situation is unfinished, which means that there is still work that needs to be done. A battle that has not reached the conclusion – so we must fight again. A setback. Learning from your errors. You may be wounded but you have the strength and fire to push on through the obstacles. One more challenge and then you’re home free.
Kyle – It’s all Zen
Years ago, a friend turned up at a party I was hosting, with, what I thought then was an odd host gift. A drink coaster of a book called The Little Zen Companion. To be sure, a queer thing to be handed as the thrush of acquaintances clipping through your loft door and heading for either the source of cocktails headquartered at one end of the space, or the conversations seated and standing about the middle. The music rang out whatever was the party sounds of the day, the evening thrummed, and social levity filled the air. Why was I holding a book about Zen?
After the fog of the night, empty vodka bottles and diterus of a time well had was cleared away the next day, I found the book again, and began to thumb through it. At the time I had no patience for this sort of publishing cash snag. A mirade of quotes pulled together under the auspice of wisdom, that some sucker will pick up at their bookseller for $7.99. But there is no accounting for the right place right time.
The quote that struck me acutely, as I plumbed the pages, was this: “Even if our efforts of attention seem for years producing no results, one day a light which is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.” -Simone Weil.
I had been in drifting portion of my life. The kind phase where mists were mistaken for substance, and though I had longed for more, and had been applying myself through therapy and self-examination, nothing had snapped, the way I had thought it would.
I came back to the page, in that silly little book, over and over across the next several years. Those years were filled with personal challenge and change. I wouldn’t relive them for anything, but oddly, and I remember these moments so precisely, the words from that page the day after the party where quoted to me, or nearly, by friends, family and guides over those next successive years. “Huh” I thought, and “pay attention”. I did, and to the extent that I did, the light began to shine in.
I have a friend, who when starting out as a professional cook, would “burn salad” according to one of the past chefs he worked for. “I quit or was fired a total of three times” from same restaurant group he told me later. “I think that at least two of those times, it was because I sucked” he said.
The day before I wrote this column, I sent off a letter of recommendation on his behalf. He is looking at a graduate degree, an MLA in Gastronomy at either Boston University, although NYU, Oxford Brookes and London SOAS are in the running. All of this after having just wrapped up a significant stint in India. After being recruited for the post he, among other things taught continental cuisine, delved deeper into Indian cuisine, constructed from scratch a wood burning oven for camping pizza demos, developing a pop up restaurant, marketed an organic farm, and wrote a resort specific cookbook. When I last saw him he had just stepped down as the executive chef of a major museum institution where he “took it to another level and set the bar” the chief curator told me, in regards of culinary working intelligently and synergistically with the exhibitions. Fucking Nine of Wands. It doesn’t come easy or quick, and one is worn down a bit by the going, but the light, will shine through, “in the exact proportion.”
Theresa – Fearless
All around my house, you’ll find cooking magazines. Tucked in shelves, sitting on the coffee table, in a little basket next to the toilet. I love to pore over them, whenever I can (yes, even when I’m sitting on the can) just like I used to obsess over my mother’s cookbooks when I was a little girl. I never tire of reading about food.
Saveur, Food Network, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine…I have subscriptions to every single one. I hate to throw them away because they are endless sources of inspiration and cooking education.
My favorite column is Food & Wine’s Mastering My Mistakes. Each month, editor-in-chief Dana Cowin tackles a different recipe and gets a cooking lesson from a chef.
I love this column because I know what it’s like to make mistakes in the kitchen. I too, have created foul meals that were not-so-great to downright inedible.
The wretched salmon loaf that resembled cat food. (Even the cats didn’t want it.)
The powdered sugar that I assumed was flour….and put in my dumplings.
The super salty congee that made my salt-loving husband gag.
The time I tried to add all kinds of extra stuff in my cookies…and ended up with a hot (but delicious) mess.
Numerous burnt items.
And let’s not forget the constant battle of the not-quite-done chicken breasts (my nemesis).
Yep. I’ve had my share of epic kitchen fails.
I’m not the only one. Any home cook or chef will have a story (or two…or three…or more) of a meal gone wrong, a dessert that didn’t quite make the grade, or a time when the kitchen went kaboom.
No one gets it right every time.
Learning to cook, like any skill, is a test of persistence, stubbornness, and the willingness to get right back in that kitchen arena, even though we may feel deflated.
When we make mistakes in the kitchen, or in any thing for that matter, it can either make us fearful…or fearless. Do we give up the fight or get right back in there and battle on?
This is the energy behind the Nine of Wands.
The figure in the Nine of Wands may be scared but he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and give it another go. This is the energy I bring forward every time I step in front of my stove. I’m ready to go at it again…and master the challenge before me.
I am indomitable in my efforts…and my kitchen.
Dana Cowin wrote a book based on her popular Food & Wine column: Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes
The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller.
A good, basic cookbook from Cal Peternell: Twelve Recipes.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt.
Theresa and Kyle
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2015
photos from personal collection and Jessica Kaminski
Hungry for more? Click here to explore the entire Tarot by the Mouthful series, from the very first card… right up to our latest installment. Bon appetit!