In the fading of another winter day I am cooking black-eyed peas and cornbread, a meal that seems deeply southern and deeply old-fashioned but is neither, for me — I’m not southern and no one cooked this way for me when I was young; it’s just the way my family eats much of the time, here and now, where and when we happen to be, for reasons of our own. A meal like this could tie me to place, tradition, heritage, but it doesn’t.
Instead I’m inclined to see it as liberating. Maybe I’m trying to see it as liberating. A plate of beans, properly enjoyed, is freedom from my carnivorous nature — and I won’t deny I do have one. If I have no moral objection to eating meat within certain limits, if I could eat meat (I could throw some bacon in that pot) but decide not to, simply demonstrating to myself that I don’t need a thing I’m used to having is a benefit. I wish I’d learned that lesson thirty years earlier; better late than never.
But this isn’t some dour sacrifice recompensed by smug puritan self-righteousness. That wouldn’t be liberating, after all. More →