Perhaps its the pandemic. Or at least the knock-on effect of shipping delays and supply-chain interruptions. I can take it. Unless, that is, it interrupts my soul food. You see, my father was from South Carolina. I grew up eating things like grits and black-eyed peas. Then I probably went for a good two decades without eating either. Like most people, however, I experience breakfast malaise. Cold cereal every single day gets old after five-plus decades. If we have reasonably healthy leftovers in the fridge I’ll sometimes have those. Several years ago I started cooking breakfast for myself on weekends. (My family wasn’t interested in my concoctions.) When I became vegan I couldn’t keep cooking my usual weekend egg, so I turned back to soul food.
On a typical weekend I’ll have grits and black-eyed peas. As a vegan, I really like beans. There are so many varieties of legumes and each has its own charms. Although we don’t eat all of them, there are over 40,000 different types of beans. Even of those cultivated for human consumption I’m probably still pretty much a novice. But lately our local grocery store has been having bean trouble. Since the pandemic began we’ll occasionally go in and find the canned bean shelf bare. Last week they had no black-eyed peas. I fretted about it all week. Was there a national bean shortage? Was this the new toilet paper for a new year? As the weekend drew near I decided I’d walk a mile on a snowy Friday to a local health food store where, I was pretty sure, there would be at least organic beans.
Dried beans are, of course, available. I don’t trust myself to cook them properly. It takes hours of soaking and boiling and always ends with some uncertainty. Something about toxins and digestion just don’t mix. Early on in the pandemic we didn’t horde, but slowly collected necessities, just in case. Then in the summer it looked like Covid was over so we ate our supplies. Bemused, I realized how many cans of black-eyed peas I’d storehoused. Perhaps I had more foresight than I thought. Supply chains are still stressed. Backlogs take a long time to clear. I have accepted that new appliances, cars, electronics might take quite a bit longer to get. Specialty food items too. I accept such things with a certain stoicism. But my soul food, well, that’s a different matter entirely. Don’t take my soul away!