In a suite in Xiang Yi Restaurant, Helian Xuan and Xia Chunyu were having a?few drinks together.
“Even after little Jing returned, he continues going out every day. I have no idea what he is so busy with! Seeing him idling around the whole day gives me a headache. I want to arrange an errand for him, but I’m afraid that he would ruin it and bring shame upon the Helian family.” Helian Xuan had his head in hands, troubled.
Xia Chunyu contemplated his friend’s problem.?What is Little Jing busy with? Now that he has found the person he was looking for, isn’t it time that?he concentrates on more important things?
“In my opinion, I think it would be better to arrange an errand for him. Giving him something to do would get his mind to settle down and give him a sense of responsibility. Don’t think too much if he’d do well or not. It’s the first few challenges that teach young men. Even you lost your first battles. Hell, I also made a fool of myself on my first assignment! Little Jing is quite clever. Just give him a chance and I’m sure he’d be able to achieve something,” Xia Chunyu said.
Helian Xuan bounced the idea around his head for a while. “I’ll take a look and see if there’s anything suitable for him. Help me look for something, too, okay?”
Xia Chunyu smiled and nodded his head. “Of course, I will take note.”
“Right, what is up with the third madam back when you were at Black Wind Ridge? I never had the chance to ask you,” Helian Xuan asked with curiosity.
Xia Chunyu filled his cup up with wine and downed it in one go. The spicy liquid burned right down to his stomach, but it was still unable to dissolve the knot in his heart.
His predicament has been weighing heavily on his heart. It was a little better in the day when he has things to do that kept his mind off it. At night, however, when all was quiet and he was left to his own devices, he would toss and turn, the memories of Yaoyao haunting him. The mere thought of her would tug at his heart and it was like an unbearable physical ache in his chest. Sometimes, he?would wake up in the middle of the night and subconsciously feel around beside him, only to find it cold and empty.
He did ponder over his feelings meticulously, trying to figure out if the reason for his obsession was guilt or because he has genuinely fallen in love with her. Perhaps, it was both.
“She is originally from a good household but she got kidnapped up to the mountains. The first-in-charge rewarded her to me and I always thought that she is a spy… it’s only after the whole fiasco that I found out that she wasn’t. I let her down. She died believing that I turned my back on her. I didn’t even get the chance to make amends.” Xia Chunyu laughed bitterly, filling his cup again.
For a long while, Helian Xuan did not know what to say to console his friend. Finally, he sighed. “Beautiful women suffer unhappy fates.” He paused and said, “You don’t have to beat yourself up over it. It’s understandable that you didn’t trust her right away.”
Xia Chunyu scowled harder and when he spoke, his tone was even more bitter. “You don’t understand. I promised her that I’d get her out of there safely. I promised her that I wouldn’t leave her. She believed me. She trusted me, and I let her down.”
Helian Xuan was at a loss for words. He has known Xia Chunyu since they were young, and they’d been friends for a long time. The Xia Chunyu he knew was a capable, cold, arrogant, and an unruly person. He has never seen him become this depressed over a woman. It was clear that the woman was extraordinary to get him to act like this.
“Forget it, brother. Let’s not think about it anymore, it is all in the past. If you really feel that you have let her down, make it up to her family. Surely, you know where her house is?”
Xia Chunyu’s eyes darkened with cold intentions. Those vile people could not be called Yaoyao’s family. They were cold-blooded, ruthless, and conniving people. Oh, he was sure to make it up to them. He was going to get even with each one of them for Yaoyao’s sake.
However, he did not want to let Helian Xuan in on his plans so he gave an indifferent smile. “Enough of this depressing talk. Let’s drink up.”
Helian Xuan wanted to discuss Princess Liuli with Xia Chunyu. Princess Liuli was the Empress Dowager’s pet princess, and the Empress Dowager has always been looking for a suitable partner for her. Yesterday, his mother said that she heard the Empress Dowager mention that she thought highly of Chunyu for the princess.
This called for a celebration. However, seeing Chunyu’s current mood, it seemed unwise to bring the matter up. If the Empress Dowager made up her mind, there should be news of it soon, anyway.
It took great effort before Ye Jiayao finally managed to coax little Jingjing to leave. She returned to the kitchen only to find the workers looking at her with envy in their eyes.
Ye Jiayao stopped in her tracks.
“Ay… these days looks really matter most whatever you do. When you are good-looking, there will be people supporting you. If you’re like us, thick and fat, no matter how delicious you make your food, you’d still get swept aside,” Li Quisheng, Zhong Xiang’s sycophant, mocked sourly.
This imbecile! Is he really accusing me of being a gigolo? Is it my fault that you are thick and fat? Go back and blame your mother for letting you loose in the kitchen!
“Just do your work well, and stay within your bounds, Li Quisheng.” Zhong Xiang said loudly, his lips raised into a sneer.
Hmph! You two are cowards! Do you think I’m so stupid that I won’t recognize your digs? You accuse me of this dishonesty yet here you are, belittling me when I’ve done nothing! The people who said that men are upstanding people clearly hasn’t met the two of you.
Deng Haichuan forced a laugh. To smooth the tension out, he changed the topic, and asked, “Brother Yao, what did the little prince say about the dishes today? That beggars’ bird covered in mud seems a little worrying. Did the Young Royal Highness accept it? The beggars’ chicken nowadays is wrapped with flour seasoned with Hua Diao.”
Ye Jiayao smiled patiently. “Little Prince Jing came here to reminisce some bittersweet memories. When I was on my way to Jin Ling, I coincidentally ran into him. I was cooking beggars’ bird at that moment and he followed the scent, claiming he was hungry from his journey. He told me that he couldn’t get the taste out of his mind. So when he found out last night that I was working here as a chef, he came over to ask me to make beggars’ bird today.”
Ye Jiayao purposely left some bits of their story out. She mixed some truths and lies to get people like?Li Quisheng and Zhong Xiang off her back. She has friendly relations with the prince and they really couldn’t do anything about it. She just found it insulting that they thought that she was using her looks to climb up the social ladder.
“Oh! I didn’t know that you have such a personal relationship with Young Royal Highness Jing. It’s no wonder that he requested you to dine with him,” Jiang Youli said, feeling apologetic for not helping brother Yao bake the large flatbread previously.
Everyone suddenly understood why they got so many tips last night.
Ye Jiayao saw how Zhong Xiang and Liu Qisheng’s faces darkened, and the corner of her lips lifts into an unnoticeable smirk. They have another thing coming if they thought that she’d be a pushover while they pit against her. She knew how to win people over and these kitchen workers were not different.
After lunch, there was a resting period. Shopkeeper Li told Ye Jiayao that if she would like, she could go rest in the lotus room. There was a rocking chair there and the suite oversees the Qin Huai River so she can also admire the river scenery. However, Ye Jiayao did not want any more special treatment. She wanted to get familiar with everyone and integrate into the group, so she chose to stay in the kitchen to chat with the gang.
After all, Ye Jiayao was a modern person from a few thousand years later. She was born in a family of chefs, has been the editor of a gourmet magazine, has visited various countries, and has tried pretty much all the delicacies in the world. Her knowledge and experience were not one that an ancient person could compare to.
Ye Jiayao has her sleeves rolled up, one foot on the bench, talking about Kobe beef. “I have been to the beach and heard that a certain island produces a cow that drinks spring water from the mountains and eats tender grass mixed with herbs. Every day, it listens to relaxing music and gets a massage. If it does not have an appetite, you have to feed it malt-fermented wine.?The meat from such cows is incomparably tender, sweet-smelling, and grease-free. It melts in your mouth and is practically the best among all beef.”
Ye Jiayao almost drooled as she spoke, her eyes fixed on the roof of the restaurant.?Kobe beef, I miss you!
“Brother Yao, surely you’re bluffing us! A cow with a treatment better than most human gets? I think I want to be reincarnated into a cow!” Cui Dongpeng smiled indulgently.
“That’s right, it would be better to be a cow,” someone agreed.
Ye Jiayao laughed, shaking her head. “Then it will depend on whether you guys have good luck. Perhaps if you work hard enough in this life and earn enough money to bribe Yama, it might happen.”
Everyone laughed heartily.
“I am not bluffing you, though. Abalone and sashimi would be inferior compared to such beef. Do you know what the top nine delicacies in the world are? The beef that I just mentioned ranked six!”
The group stared at her curiously.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Alright. The first place goes to something called Bahaba. In the Guang Zhou region, it is known as Jin Quin Mian, and in the Wen Zhou region, it is called Huang Gan. Shredded abalone and assorted dried seafood soup are only authentic and tastiest if we use Bahaba’s bladder.”
Someone nodded in the crowd, agreeing with her. “I did hear about this, before. I just have never made it.”
“Brother Yao, quick, tell us the second place,” Jiang Youli rushed.
In second place was gold shavings, but it would be a lot of effort explaining this stuff to ancient people. The craft was not something that could be produced in this era, hence she skipped over it and went straight to the truffle.
“The second most precious food is called truffle. This kind of fungus only grows in a country with terrain that looks similar to a boot. It is a few thousand lis away from here. It is very rare and has to be eaten raw. It cannot be cooked because once it meets with fire, the taste will change. This fungus is sweet and has a heavy fragrance and is not suitable for storing. You have to eat it immediately after picking it. Therefore, unless you are local, it is difficult to enjoy its taste.”
“Brother Yao, where did you hear all these from? You couldn’t probably go all the way there to taste it, right?” someone questioned.
Ye Jiayao heaved a long sigh. “This is what my master, my grandmaster, and great grandmaster spent half their lives gathering from around the world. My only wish in this life was to tour the world and try all the delicacies like what my master and grandmaster did.”
Zhong Xiang and Liu Qisheng sat desolately outside, feeling upset as they listened to the bustling excitement in the kitchen.
Liu Qisheng scoffed sulkily, “It is obvious that he is uttering nonsense. Touring the world, ha! Does he even know how wide and big a farmland is? He’s just making up stories and the fools inside are happy being taken along for a ride.”
Zhong Xiang remained silent, his expression a little depressed. In the past, everyone always crowded around him, and now, they have all gone to Li Yao’s side