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: Two of Swords
Two of Swords: Pause, a stalemate, a time of indecision. The figure balances two heavy swords and wears a blindfold – she’s not going anywhere because she simply can’t see which way to go. She must weigh each decision with great care. The Two of Swords can symbolize being stuck or torn between two choices. It can also indicate a need to reflect, contemplate or meditate before making a move of power. Sit tight and look within. That’s where the answer lies.
Kyle: One of Two Ways
As a function of my profession, I host cooking demos. Wineries, home shows, culinary expos, farmers markets, and more. My fiancée, who is the the real cook, and I are never at a shortage of asks for demos. Those asks are a compliment and a blessing. Yet, I think it a strange phenomenon the cooking demo. It is in essence what James Beard began with 15 minutes of airtime on NBC’s new television broadcast in 1946, just before the broadcast of live boxing, direct from Madison Square Garden mind you. Beard educated how to cook entertainingly. Some 40 years later the Food Network picked up where Beard and others left off. Originally begun by the co-founder of CNN, Reese Schonfeld, “stand stir and entertainment” via the Food Network would become a national pastime. Over 90 million subscriptions to the network as of 2009. What I consider odd is with all this cooking on tv, the surfeit of techniques, ingredients and data about how to turn food into a meal, is that we are doing less and less of it and the skills to cook, are ebbing away from the American home cook at a rate that only rivals the polar ice cap melt.
About a year ago I rolled into one the events I would be presenting a cooking demo at with our then 8 year old, who would be my assistant for the day. The demo was going to be an easy one. A roast chicken. Truth be told we were going to prep it during our demo, and then take it home, throw it in the oven, and the bird would be that evening’s dinner. During set-up my son rolled out the three large knives we would be using to dice the what the French call the holy trinity of cooking (carrots, celery and onion) to roast in and around the chicken. As he freed the knives from their dish towel wrapping a gasp came from one of the staff running the kitchen stage. Unfazed he lined them up, held two up to see if they needed sharpening and moved on with our set up, taking cues from his dad on what to focus on next.
During the demo he did the chopping, with his monkey-paw hand position and knife skills. I talked and slathered the chicken in butter and seasoning, (he never really liked that part) and then gave a quick primer on what I still believe is the best way to make stock (which by the way I learned from my fiancée who in turn learned it from an old French lady). Bones, herbs and little bit of oil. Why the hell would you throw the whole chicken in pot?
The takeaway from that day for me was twofold. First, though the audience loved the taste of roast chicken, and making one is incredibly simple, many told me post-demo they had been too intimidated to try. Second, knife skills are just that, skills, and they are available to anyone, but they have be learned. As a country with our dross of drive-thrus and processed food grocery store options, we have lost our way. We watch food being made on tv,, and not even for us, and then daily consume food we have not seen made, and have no idea where or how it was produced.
Our kids, who can cook and chop and concoct and clean food with us and on their own have an edge-up on the world. It is that simple. Teaching them and letting them experiment when young is the perfect time to raise people who like cook, or better yet, know how to. Childhood, with its bent toward experiencing things and messing around with ingredients for sake of doing so, is the perfect time. The privilege of good knife skills, is something our kids take as just that, a privilege. “With every privilege comes a responsibility” is something my Dad used to say, and I think that’s true. We are at a serious point in our food evolution and how we feed ourselves in the future and the next many generations. Just as the Two of Swords card implies, this could go one of two ways, depending on how we cut it, skillfully or not.
P.S. My friend Kathleen Flinn wrote a great book called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School about the journey of ten grownups who were just as intimidated as my audience about roasting a chicken, making a roux and myriad of other basic kitchen moves. It is a terrific read and won lots of accolades. Here is the link for more info and great little video about the book as well: https://kathleenflinn.wordpress.com
Theresa: Kitchen Contemplation
I often interpret the Two of Swords as contemplation. Taking a time out to reflect is necessary, especially with the demands of busy modern life.
For me, that reflection time happens daily in my kitchen. At the end of a long, hard day, my kitchen is my ashram.
Cooking is a meditative act.
I can slowly clear my head and find my way to stillness as I chop and dice.
Last week, after a particularly trying day, I washed my hands and began preparing a big pot of ajiaco with a side of cassava bread, traditional Cuban fare.
Chop chop chop.
Swoosh into the pan!
The crackling sizzle as the meat hits the oil.
The bubbling broth, steaming the air and scenting the house with spicy aromas.
The feeling of the dough becoming elastic as I slowly knead away.
By the time this all came together, I was in a better place. Still. Calm. Sane.
I was connected to the source, my soul, the present moment. Who needs Zen training when you have a sharp knife and a place to cook?
A recipe for traditional cassava bread.
The recipes I use come from this book: A Taste of Cuba: Recipes From the Cuban-American Community by Linette Creen.
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!