Chapter 50: Flaunting Seniority
Translated by Gumihou
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The special lunch was enjoyed by everyone. Even Madam Yang, with her bone deep hatred of Su Nuan Nuan, could not deny her exceptional skill with cooking. Especially when she heard that the Flash Cook Shrimp & Eel Noodle was made from swamp eels taken from paddy fields, scrap fish that not even the servants deigned to eat. They always received a few of those creepy looking swamp eels every year from their tenants, those were normally used to feed the chickens and ducks.
Just what did she do to make them taste so good?
As for this pickled mustard, just how did she make it? Why is it so refreshing and delicate? Had carrots and bamboo shoot ever tasted so good? The tea eggs were even more amazing. Just a simple chicken egg, something that the masters of the palace have at least one or two each morning. Perhaps ordinary peasants would regard eggs as something valuable, but aside from a gentle fragrance, it has no particularly inspiring flavour.
To think that she could imbue such flavour just by seasoning them, but just how was it seasoned? With tea? But what kind of tea was drunk by the servants? Just some cheap powdered stuff. Could cheap tea really produce such deliciousness? If they were to use the fine teas from the masters’ house, just what kind of flavour would appear?
However, no matter how delicious everything was, they still have to maintain a shred their image. Only, that Su Nuan Nuan seemed to have forgotten what image meant and was gulping down huge mouthfuls with relish, her chopsticks flashing like rain, as she attacked the bowls of food.
An entire table of ladies, from the most venerable old madam to the most junior Concubine Jiang had unconsciously set aside their manners and were busily sending noodles and side dishes into their mouths without stopping. Right now, no one had any interest in making fun of others.
Normally, the women of the house did not drink alcohol, but the old madam was too happy today and ordered Qiu Ling to bring out a few jars of osmanthus flower mead for everyone to try. After a satisfying meal followed by good wine, the maids brought in some tea and took away the empty dishes. Old Madam Fang leaned back against her couch, a wide smile on her face. “How many years has it been since I’ve eaten so happily. If Nuan Nuan hadn’t stopped me, I would have probably eaten 3 large bowls of rice.”
Xu Ran Yun quickly laughed with her, “Old madam, I’m really glad first madam stopped you, otherwise, 3 bowls? Your body might not be able to take it.”
Old Madam Fang laughed and said, “That’s right, I could only curse my appetite for being too small. Otherwise I would not care about my age or waistline and eat and eat until I turned into a fatty. Nuan Nuan, you must tell me, that pickle, pickled mustard was it? Just how did you make it? Also, these tea eggs, ah, to think that eggs could be made into something so delicious. I’ve eaten three, but it’s still not enough, too bad it’s all gone now.”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “Old madam, please don’t worry. I’ve already taught the kitchen head, Ms. Xue, how to make these tea eggs. So, you can ask the kitchen to make them whenever you like. I’m worried I won’t have time to make it whenever you want, so please consider this as my way of filling my filial responsibilities. As for the pickled mustard, it’s very simple, just some sliced radishes and carrots pickled in a special sauce.”
“That’s right, there’s also cucumbers in it too. I’ve already asked Ms. Xue to get some twisted cucumbers for me, she said that these tiny, out of shaped cucumbers aren’t worth a lot of money in the city. Those people really did not know a good thing when they see it, these tiny cucumbers are really toothsome.”
Old Madam Fang said, “Is that so? I’ve always loved pickled carrots, cucumbers and all that. If you make any let me have some.”
Su Nuan Nuan grinned. “Very well, this granddaughter-in-law will remember.”
“You better don’t forget, I know your memory hasn’t been very good lately. I’ve already mentioned that White Sealed Meat is very good, but I don’t see you sending any my way.” Old Madam Fang sniffed coldly, before saying curiously. “That’s right, just how did you make that? How did you make it so that both fat and lean meat are so delicious? It’s completely different from the pork I’ve had in the past.”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled. “Naturally it’d be different. That dish is made by combining regular pork meat and the meat from pork trotters. In the words of the lord, this leads to the a texture where ‘The fat is not greasy while the lean is not dry’, isn’t this the special point of pork trotter meat?”
At this point, everyone laughed together. Their laughter were like the chimes of silvery musical instruments… which was interrupted by someone calling from the outside, “First madam, the kitchen has sent someone with the cat.”
“Yo~ they’re really efficient.” Su Nuan Nuan quickly stood up and rushed to the entrance, in a short while, she came in hugging a large black and white tortoiseshell cat.
Everyone in the living room stared with amazement, most of them did not know why Su Nuan Nuan had brought her cat over. However, there was two people in the room with completely different expressions from the rest. The first was Shi Yurou, she’d already heard about the little incident from her maid earlier and was feeling alternatively annoyed and bitter. The other was the weak and cowardly second miss, Duan Sinqi. When she saw her beloved cat in Su Nuan Nuan’s arms, she could not help her little cry of surprise.
She clasped her hands over mouth, but it was too late, her voice was just a little too loud. Old Madam Fang gave her look, Liu Min said. “What’s wrong with this Qi brat? What’s with the random shouting? Nearly scared me to death.”
Concubine Lin’s face changed, she immediately pulled her daughter’s sleeves and smiled gamely. “Madam Min, this child kept a pet cat which had ran away. So, when she saw the cat with first madam, she just cried out.” Then, she turned towards her own daughter, “You’re really too bold, have you no sense of the rules? Still not apologizing to Madam?”
Liu Min quickly laughed it off, “It’s fine, it’s fine, what’s the big deal? What’s all this need for apologies?” She turned to Su Nuan Nuan, “Does this cat belong to Nuan Nuan?”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “No, when I was just leaving the kitchen this wild thing just jumped into my arms. I felt that like we’re like kindred spirits, everyone look, don’t you think he’s quite similar to me? Terrified but filled with resolved, he reminded me of the time I first entered Mei Yue Lou. At first, it was terribly bleak and depressing, with no help in sight, but somehow I managed to held on after all this time. When I saw that this cat has the same eyes as mine, I fell in love immediately. From now on he will live with me at Mei Yue Lou.”
“I’ve asked Ms. Xue to clean him up a bit and to bring him over here so that everyone could have a look. Now that everyone knows that he’s my cat, if you see him in the future, please give him some face on my behalf. Do consider this meal as my compensation for future indiscretion.”
This remark was a show of force that was neither too weak nor too heavy. Old Madam Fang nodded on the side. Madam Yang, Xu Ran Yun and the rest felt terribly awkward, as for Shi Yurou, she was so pissed off that her chest heaved up and down furiously. However, she really did not know what to say. For a moment, the dining hall sank into silence.
Su Nuan Nuan eyed the people in the room coldly, why on earth do you think I’d bother to treat you all to such good food? If I don’t step on you all a little, some of you might think I’m easy prey. Especially that old lady, want subjugate me with fresh seafood, hmpf! No matter what I want all you to suffer a little.
She was just thinking about this when Old Madam Fang laughed heartily. “Nuan Nuan is certainly right. When I think back to that time you were sent to Mei Yue Lou, it certainly was a rash decision on Xuan’er’s part. I pleaded him to think trice, but the words of an old biddy with no influence meant nothing and that little brat refused to listen to me, and so, the three of you pitiful ladies were sent to such a desolated place. My heart can’t rest easy thinking of you suffering there, in fact, I think it’s better to for you to just move back.”
Su Nuan Nuan nearly spat out a mouthful of blood, she gave Old Madam Fang a bitter look. Curses, is this old woman some kind of evil spirit? I’ve already released such a venomous snake in this room, only to see it smacked silly by this old woman? What old biddy with no influence, this is clearly lying through your teeth, you’ll be struck by lightning, ah. Finished, I’m finished. I’ve accidentally fallen into a trap. This old demon’s power is as strong as that rascal Duan Tingxuan. I’ll be buried at this rate, what should I do, ah?
Hard as she tried to think, no good idea came to her mind. However, wasn’t this just a test to see whose face was thicker? That Old Madam Fang already openly declared herself an old biddy, therefore Su Nuan Nuan gave a pained smiled and said “Old madam’s good intention really touches this unworthy granddaughter-in-law’s heart. Only, our Lord’s heartless actions have badly scarred this very same heart. Rather than going back to the inner court and be confronted by those grievous memories, it would be kindness to let me live as I wish at Mei Yue Lou.”
A murmur of voices exploded in the wake of this speech. The old lady was shocked as she starred at Su Nuan Nuan, unable to believe the words coming from this woman’s mouth. This silly woman clearly just wants to stir up trouble, ah. This old lady already stuck out her neck and bet everything for her, only to be rebuffed without a thought by this daring troublemaker. No wonder her grandson, as brilliant a man as there ever was, could not win against her. How could this cunning evildoer be so easily subdued?
My beloved grandson, your granny could only do so much, the rest depends on you. Please work hard, your granny will support you from the shadows. Hum, this Flash Cooked Shrimp & Eel Noodle is certainly delicious, ah. I wonder if there’s any more in the kitchen? I’ll send Qiu Ling over to investigate later, if there’s any left she’s to bring it back here and hide it, otherwise once Xuan’er comes back there won’t even be a drop of soup left.
In the end, Old Madam Fang was an elderly lady and after half a day of excitement she was a little tired out. Everyone took the hint and soon bid their farewells. Su Nuan Nuan cuddled the large cat in her arms and was about to leave when a voice spoke from behind.
“You’re too insensitive, even if you do not wish to return to the inner court, you still have to say it in a more tactful way. How could you just turn down old madam’s good intentions? What happen to your sense of filial responsibility?”
Su Nuan Nuan turned around and saw Madam Yang staring at her. Without panicking, she smiled. “Madam’s words are a little exaggerated, haven’t this daughter-in-law shown her filial responsibility through those noodles and side dishes? Even elder madam seems to enjoy them, how could madam accuse this daughter-in-law for being insensitive? Could it be that elder madam also wishes me to return to the inner court? If that’s the case, if elder madam misses this daughter-in-law so much, than it is this daughter-in-law’s fault for being too hasty.”
“In order to not disappoint elder madam, I shall inform the Lord of this good news and ask him to prepare the Chun Feng Court for me and pick out a good date for me to return. Well? Shall I do that for elder madam? In order to fulfil my filial responsibility?
[Gumihou: Shameless people are scary…]  White Sealed Meat