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: Six of Swords
Six of Swords: After the battle, we move on. This is the card of transition, time to leave behind a stormy period for a safer shore. Smooth sailing ahead. There is help available. You don’t need to go it alone. Someone may be helping you to cross over to a better place. Refugees. Don’t look back. It’s time to go. This card can sometimes symbolize travel, especially near or over water.
Kyle: The transition before the calm
Imagine what it was like when the first time crème brûlée was presented. We don’t know who did it, which chef that is, that truly thought of it first, or laid it which table, warm, crispy burnt and delicious. We know that crème brûlée as it is known today first appears in chef François Massialot’s 1691 cookbook. One of the more famous chefs who has come down to us through history, Massialot cooked for Louis the XiV’’s brother and several other royalty and clergy of the time. He was both a tastemaker and trendsetter in cuisine. The rich and powerful relied on him to keep their meals in and ahead of fashion.
Regardless of who did it and when, it must have been arresting, and though we take it for granted now, a dish, in which you burn part of it right before it is served, well that just must have seemed a bit messed up on first presentation or tell about it. That feeling, when we come face to face the disequilibrium, slight or severe, is what the Six of Swords is all about. Every discipline, craft, art has to go through it or else it recedes into history.
Jackson Pollack and the Abstract Expressionists overthrew the Expressionists. Steam, and then internal combustion engines, supplanted the horse as power to move us just where we wish to go. Television, with its initial signal and images, which were grainy and weak at first, left radio in the dust within 4 years of it’s mass introduction. It’s not always comfy, the change. The discomfort comes from the muddying of the waters, the mixing it up, the next perspective, and that, because we are creatures of habit, ritual and consistency, is the challenging part. The Six of Swords is there to remind us, the waters will be still again, and the calm shore of the new, is waiting for us over there.
Theresa: In the same boat
After loss, we mourn but then we move on. It’s not always easy. But staying in a place that no longer makes us happy isn’t the right option.
The Six of Swords symbolizes that feeling of finally moving forward after a time of unrest, difficulty, and loss.
When my mother passed away almost ten years ago, on the surface, I moved on quickly. I had things to do, businesses to run, and a 90-something year old father to take care of. Which meant: there was no time for me to grieve. I had to allow dad to work through his grief first.
Like the ferryman in this card, I was his trusty guide as he navigated his new life without mom.
Which also meant: cooking.
Dad never really did much cooking. He could fry and egg and some bacon or heat up a can of soup but that was about it. In the kitchen, he was lost.
So I stepped in. Once a week, I would come over and cook a big meal – and then set him up with easy-to-heat-up care plates that he could toss into the microwave on the days I couldn’t be there.
While this may have seemed like a great arrangement, it was far from perfect. My cooking was too fancy, too fussy – too healthy. Dad balked at the salads with homemade dressing, the fresh green beans instead of the canned kind, and the peas in the chicken pot pie (he was especially mad about that).
On one especially rough day, I came to his house to discover him napping. I thought I would surprise him and began cooking a nice pork tenderloin. He emerged from the bedroom rubbing his eyes and said “Hello Marge…” but then frowned when he realized it was me…”oh, it’s just you….” as he looked down ruefully at the tenderloin browning in the pan (Mom’s name was Marge). If you have ever wanted to know what it feels like to experience frustration and your heart breaking at the same time, this was it. I kept on a cheerful face but as I drove home that night, I broke down in tears – tears of irritation for not being able to please him but also tears of compassion for the man who longed for his soul mate, the one person who knew him and his tastes better than anyone. I was a poor substitute for her. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about how hard this was for him – and me.
This mixture of aggravation and sorrow lingered in the air for months as I tried in vain to find meals he might like. Because I didn’t want to sit there and eat the stuff he did. But I knew that in order for him to move on, he needed to feel safe, cared for, familiar. And elegant cooking wasn’t doing that – it made him feel even less in control and anxious about his future.
One day, he started talking about mom’s potato dumplings. Something that I loved as much as he did. Finally – a way we could sit down together in a way that felt good for both of us.
I got the recipe from my sister and then got down to making those dumplings.
And they were perfect! Dad was delighted and ate heartily, probably the most I saw him since Mom passed. He ate until he could barely move. I did the same. It was a meal that both of us talked about for days later. (And a meal I made many more times for him before he passed away.)
That night, we were finally both in the boat together, much like the figures in the Six of Swords, moving on as best as we could. We still had a way to go but the future was looking a bit more calm and hopeful. And delicious.
That’s dad and me with the kids above, almost ten years ago – and only a few months after mom passed away (the photo is time stamped). We took him out for a Japanese dinner, his first Hibachi experience. He actually loved this!
Theresa and Kyle
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016
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!