One of the more pleasurable things about cooking is that it expresses our belonging: where we have been, where we are now, who and what we hold allegiance to, what season it is, what time of day it is, what kind of life we've built for ourselves. What we choose to eat, and how, and where and with whom. And why. Of course, not all of this is always in our control, but that too is an expression of our lives, what we value, and what's shaping us. I sometimes find it interesting to take a look at my life from the question 'What do I belong to?' This is slightly different question than my usual 'Who am I?' or 'What do I want?' This is the sideways approach and sometimes it can reveal what I've been hiding from myself, especially if I don't like the answer ('Oh no, I belong to this vending machine candy bar!') Sometimes the answer startles, sometimes it comforts; it can assure or bother or nag or delight. The question flips the usual position of asserting control (what belongs to me) and instead explores what defines me, what I've let in, what I've said yes to.
Here's my answer for right now: Today, so far, I belong to the tortilla, and to three cups of strong, milky tea. I belong to the bowl full of figs picked from the tree outside my front door and the ambitions of my fig chutney project that's taking up my afternoon. I belong to the cool, rainy day that is keeping me indoors and near a lit stove, and I belong to October and its deep-fall weather and harvests of squash and apples and Brussels sprouts (and figs).
I look at my refrigerator door and what I've chosen to post there: A chart of the moon cycles, a shiny wrapper from a British sweet, a bag from my landlady's shop in Berkeley, a flier from an organic farm, a drawing of a canning jar that says East Bay. All this speaks of where and what and to whom I belong. What holds me and shapes me, what I've allowed in and what's come crashing through. What I want to be reminded of, what I want reinforced and echoed and encouraged. What I belong to.