Tarot by the Mouthful Theresa Reed and Kyle Cherek

Kyle is a foodie who loves Tarot. Theresa is a Tarot reader who loves food. 

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: The Tower


The Tower:  The Tower indicates revolution, upheaval and chaos. What is secure and stable suddenly becomes rocked and structures, once dependable, crumble.  A shocking twist of events and everything breaks.  This is necessary.  In order for growth to happen, we must tear down the old and outworn.  Break down the structures and liberate yourself. Break the rules.  Illumination will follow.

Kyle: Honest Food

When I first began receiving tarot readings in my mid-twenties, the Tower card was the most terrifying to me. Its imagery hardly invites anything else. The Tower is aflame, struck by lightning, and people are falling from it, headlong to their certain end.  This cannot be a good card to have rise from the spread.

That calamity is, of course, the card’s strength of message.  Should we get the Tower, the significance of the massive disruption is telltale that aspects of our lives are built on falsities, wished for heights, mountains that are now evincing themselves in honesty as molehills.

Its existence in the deck cautions toward believing our own ego’s constructed view of the world from a lofty height.  That said, the rest of the import of the card is often missed.  The tumult, the fire and falling, are all necessary if we are to evolve, come back full circle to the new honest aspect of what our lives are. Nothing less than a revolution, in the truest sense of the word.

The Tower card keeps us honest, but not in fear-based manner. Its energies are there to ensure that should we construct a world for ourselves that is not built on what is true to our souls, the Tower card will give us the shake up we need.  Should we take heed of it our not, is our free will.

What then does all this have to do with food, cuisine, and cookery?

One of the highest compliments one chef can share about another is that their food “is honest”.   It is not a compliment I’ve heard often, but when I have, it was unmistakable what was meant.  It meant that once cooking can be described as honest, that the chef has been through their own dark night of the soul within the craft. That the idealizations of the cuisines they admired and the stories they may have told themselves about their own skills have been leveled. They had lived past the tumult of the Tower and chosen their own inner star, not to try to rebuild the illusions, and lofty views.  What was left, a view on the ground, of what was real and honest to the depth of  who they are, now came out in their food.

Theresa: The Revolution is Delicious

Food is always evolving.  Sure, we have our classics that are always be cooked a certain way but every year, every day, there is something new.  It might be a technique, a flavor, a spectacular dish, or a trend.  It might even be something old deconstructed and reconstructed.

It’s the same but never the same.  We crave the familiar but we want radical change.  Our tastebuds, whims, and desire for novelty (or ease) demands that food progresses too.

Anthropologists can trace the earliest cooking back to about 250,000 years ago.  Think about that. We first started cooking over fires way back then – probably even earlier.  While some people continue to enjoy roughing it – or cook outside due to necessity, our methods of cooking and food storage have changed a great deal over the years.

From fire pits to ovens.  Moving foods across continents.  Agriculture methods. Canning and freezing.  Industrialization. Processed foods.  Gadgets. Molecular gastronomy.  Brilliant, innovative chefs like Ferran Adriá, David Chang, and René Redzepi. Slow food movement.  Back to farm-to-table.

What’s old is in and what’s in is old.

When I was a kid, everything was made from scratch.  There were no boxed cakes, no instant soups, no t.v. dinners.  We we didn’t have a lot of money, so mom had to be thrifty.  We had a garden and canned our own veggies (I had one horrendous year where I grated and canned so much sauerkraut, my fingers were raw and bloody.). My father fished and hunted for squirrel or rabbit on occasion. That’s just how things were done back then.

As we got older and as her health started to get worse, mom started buying a lot of those “convenience” foods.  Suddenly, that cooking from scratch became boxed brownies and other store bought things.

Margarine replaced the butter and “no salt” salt became the norm because both of my parents had heart issues.

This was not a good development.  I longed for the food before sickness.  I wanted freshness.  Any I also wanted something exotic.

As soon as I moved out, I started my own food revolution. Margarine was immediately out the door and butter back on the shelves.  Spices, many that were never part of mom’s pantry, lined my shelves.  Gadgets such as dumpling presses, mandolines, onion goggles, and lemon zesters became my tools (I still use my grandmother’s pastry cutter though).  The standard German-American fare was replaced with Cuban, Japanese, Vietnamese and more.

I have read every food thing I could get my paws on and own cookbooks in almost every cuisine imaginable (still need to explore Scandinavian  now that I discovered I have Scandinavian roots, thank  you Ancestry.com!).  Cooking shows like Chopped and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations have expanded my food-world-view into entirely new directions (I watch those as rabidly as I watch Game of Thrones and fantasize about dining with Bourdain).

My cooking is almost 100% from scratch.  And it’s slow.  And fresh (I market every day).

When I go out to eat, I like to search out unusual, fancy-pants restaurants like Castagna in Portland, which has changing menus with unusual items like onion terrariums with charcoal oil or frozen goat’s milk with grapefruit, lime and hazelnut (both pictured below).  I dare not make this myself…yet.  But I am open to the experience.  I will try and eat (almost) anything once.  I’m a food risk-taker.

tarot by the mouthful the tower


frozen goats milk tarot by the  mouthful the tower

Like the Tower card, I dive right the hell in but there is little fear when it comes to food.  I trust that my experiences in the kitchen or at other people’s tables, will transform me.  I embrace the new, the new-fangled, as well as the old and revered. I welcome it all. I bow to the chefs that have come before and shaken things up (thank you, Julia Child, who revolutionized home cooking with her groundbreaking television show, The French Chef) and I anxiously await to see who the new cooking gods might be.  I love the chaos of the kitchen and the tearing down and rebuilding of ingredients.

I welcome the fire, the heat, the unexpected, the complete utter calamity of it all.  And the quiet that follows when the spoon hits my mouth.

I am a fearless foodie. And that is the spirit of the Tower to me. Viva that revolution, yo.

More things to read and explore:

History of Cooking

Food Timeline

What is Molecular Gastronomy?

Molecular Gastronomy by Molecule-R: An Introduction to the Science Behind 40 Spectacular Recipes

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine


A video to watch:

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Bon appetit!

Theresa and Kyle

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!

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