Chapter 91: No One Dare Manage
Translated by Gumihou
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“Your majesty, aren’t you just providing the princes the opportunity to steal food?” Duan Tingxuan said bitterly.
The emperor scolded, “Shameful thing, how could you judge these noble men with such low eyes. Even if the princes were to steal, the food they ate belonged to zhen*, so what’s the fuss? I trust your wife shall not be bothered by something so trivial. Come here quickly.”
* zhen – the royal ‘I’, you should know this by now if you’re regular readers of ancient China stories
Unable to refuse, Duan Tingxuan could only let go of Su Nuan Nuan’s hand with and earnest parting of, “My lady wife, do take care of yourself. Remember, whether they assist you or not, you must remain vigilant and not let them pilfer your food. Otherwise you’ll tire yourself making more. These three here are all giant gluttons.”
As her husband disappeared behind a screen with the emperor, Su Nuan Nuan really don’t know what kind of expression to make. The people left within the room, the crown prince and et cetera, were all making cheerful urging noises when she suddenly remembered Duan Tingxuan telling her about the rebellion cooked up by King Xiang Yang. She had asked him about this matter, and this was what he told her:
After the emperor gained power, not only were his reign peaceful but his princes all outstanding individuals. Short of causing a public rebellion, King Xiang Yang had no other way of becoming an emperor. However, since the country was at peace, if an open rebellion were to happen, anyone with half a brain would realize the ones who would suffer most were the common people.
Duan Tingxuan also said that he had no idea what the man was thinking, trying to incite such unrest. But now that Su Nuan Nuan had laid eyes on this weird imperial family, well, she could suddenly understand the unfortunate King’s feelings. Just what the heck is with this royal family, ah? Nothing but a bunch of crazies gathered together, right? Could it be that King Xiang Yang wanted to rebel because of this crazy family? Also she heard that it’s been a long time since this old brother had set foot into the Capital, could it be that he was too pissed off by this weird family and was ashamed to be associated with them?
Well, to be honest, Duan Tingxuan did mentioned that the emperor and the princes were all pretty outstanding people. En, wait, that Duan Tingxuan was also cut from the same cloth. It’s possible that he can’t actually judge these royal relatives of his objectively.
Now that her image of the royal family had been destroyed, Su Nuan Nuan had no way of stopping herself from thinking the worse. Thankfully, cooking was something she could do almost by instinct. It was the only way she could properly control the kitchen without vomiting blood midway.
Naturally, the princes were not there to help. They were not there to actually pilfer food either. The princes were more interested in Su Nuan Nuan herself, and had settled themselves to properly observe this mysterious person, and her cooking techniques of course.
However, that was before they were confronted by candied fruits, luxurious chicken wontons, lotus leaf rice, pork lettuce rolls and something called Ants Climbing a Branch, which was basically rice noodles stirred into minced meat sauce. The way the sticky meat clung onto the noodles looked like ants climbing up twigs. When the Bruised Cucumber Salad with Peanuts appeared, the princes couldn’t control themselves anymore.
As the crown prince, Jiang Changyue was happy to ‘set an example’ and bear the responsibility of ‘taste tester’ as he reached for a chicken wonton. Who knew after eating one, his chopsticks reached another, and then a third, then a fourth… his chopsticks fell like rain until his brothers asked, “Brother, are those wontons really good?”
“Wu! It tasted kind of ordinary, nothing special.”
Said the crown prince through two wontons crowding his mouth.
“This is how you eat ordinary tasting things?” The other two princes were not idiots. They have eyes you know. The crown prince had abandoned both face and dignity in favour of stealing food, to the point that such inferior quality excuse actually cralwed out of his mouth. That thing had to be delicious, definitely. Second prince Jiang Changning seized his chopsticks and went after a rolled lettuce. He stuffed the entire thing into his mouth and chewed a few times before yelling, “Delicious! Wu! This is too delicious! To think that pork and lettuce go so well together, how interesting. What are the spices that went into it? Oh yes, how is this flat cake thing made? There’s not a trace of oil on it, the taste is incredibly fresh and crisp. Crown prince bro, is this the Lotus Leaf Bread you told me about? It’s too delicious…”
“Really? Let me have one. I love Lotus Leaf Bread best. The fragrance of wheat in that bread is strong yet delicate, the reason why it’s so delicious, the simplicity of the ingredients best show cased in such unexpected elegance.” The crown prince cried out, this time decisively aiming his chopsticks elsewhere.
Fourth prince Jiang Changjing also started crowing, “Hahaha, you guys go on and eat those, ba. I’m only interested in this fruit platter, what did cousin-in-law call it? Candied fruits? Aiyo, these are last year’s hawthorn fruits, ah. Sweet and sour at the same time, it really whets the appetite. It’s been days since imperial mother has had a proper meal, this would certainly stimulate your appetite.”
“Your mom, since you know it’s for imperial mother, why are you still eating it non-stop?”
Su Nuan Nuan could no longer take it anymore. She stared hopefully at the dozen over kitchen hands who were there to help, sidling closer to poke the imperial chef, “I say, aren’t you guys going to say anything? Don’t you think… having those princes eating our hard work like that is unfair?”
The imperial chef wiped his forehead, and stared back at Su Nuan Nuan, “Madam’s meaning is… you want us to stop the princes from eating the food?”
“That’s right, if we don’t stop them, everything will be eaten up.”
Su Nuan Nuan nodded her head seriously, only to see the imperial chef pull a bitter melon face and whispered back, “Madam, this kind of thing… isn’t something that this servant could do. If anyone were to say anything, surely at least someone at madam’s social level is better suited? How could a mere kitchen hand manage them? Moreover, to ask them not to keep eating? Not unless this slave did not want to keep his head anymore.”
Su Nuan Nuan slapped a hand over her face: She’s an idiot, an idiot. She’s definitely an idiot! What was she thinking, trying to get an imperial chef to manage the princes?
Looks like the only thing they could do was watch these royal pigs eat their hard work. Su Nuan Nuan muttered angrily as she smacked her spoon against her wok with an audible [Teng]. She sneered, go ahead and eat, see if I care.
She was still thinking dark thoughts when someone clapped their hands. The second prince shouted, “Cousin-in-law is certainly certainly original. Wonderful.”
As his voice faded, the fourth prince’s voice rose, “She certainly has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. I heard from Tingxuan that he had been teaching her a few martial moves. Looks like he’s had trouble eating her food because her increased defensive power.”
Su Nuan Nuan noticed that the crown prince said nothing, and thought that the royal heir apparent was somehow different from his other royal sibling. However, when she looked closer… well! Looks like the reason he didn’t yell out like his siblings was because he couldn’t. The crown prince’s mouth was so full of food that his cheeks stuck out like hamster’s. This prince clearly has excellent looks, unfortunately, when it was all blown up by fat. Those fine features were definitely wasted on that dough like face.
Su Nuan Nuan gloomily looked away. She should never have had any expectations of these greedy foodies. Princes? Pei! These were pigs, all three were pigs, what do they have in common with royalty?
 Wontons – wrapped dumplings-Here’s a Classic Wonton Soup Recipe  Bruised Cucumber Salad with Peanuts – Find the Recipe Here