Chapter 202: Onward to Jin Ling

 

Translated by Gumihou

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Su Nuan Nuan laughed, “I see.” Suddenly, her laughter cut off and she glared at Duan Tingxuan. “Who ask you to speak so frankly? You know I hate that.”

“Yes, yes, yes, it was just a slip of the tongue.” Duan Tingxuan laughed ingratiatingly. The couple’s interaction caused the two maids, who had brought the morning washing water in, to giggle together.

After properly grooming themselves, they made their way to the kitchen. It turned out that all the prep-work instructions she had given out yesterday for various ingredients had been properly carried out. Since those were all done, Su Nuan Nuan merely pushed up her sleeves and began the process of making Pork & Century Egg Congee. However, it was no ordinary Pork & Century Egg Congee, there were a lot of fine details that went into the dish, and even before it was properly stewed, a wonderful fragrance had permeated the entire kitchen causing everyone to swallow hard.

Suddenly, a cheerful voice came from the doorway, “This lovely fragrance reached me long before I stepped into this kitchen, just what is Ms. Wang making?”

Everyone was shocked. They really hadn’t expected Lu Feng Yu to personally come into this kitchen so early in the morning. One after another, the cooks fell onto their knees to greet their master. Su Nuan Nuan did not bother to lift her head, steam from the congee wafted about her like dragon’s smoke, as she brusquely replied, “Pork & Century Egg Congee, it’s just another common restaurant staple. The only difference is the rice stewing method. This will take a little more time so would the master please wait awhile. Also, you’re not allowed to deduct my salary just because breakfast will be a little late.”

Lu Feng Yu laughed heartily, “Of course, of course, as the saying goes ‘A Good Meal is Remembered Once the Long Wait is Forgotten[1]’. I can wait, of course I can wait.” Then, he floated over to Duan Tingxuan’s side and peered into a bubbling pot of eggs and muttered, “Are these the Tea Eggs? Tea Eggs made using An Le Restaurant’s secret recipes?”

Su Nuan Nuan laughed, “Don’t be silly, though Tea Eggs is introduced by that heir’s wife, the actual concept is simple. What’s all this talk about secret recipes? There are only two important points to Tea Egg making, one is fire control and the other is spices. Once these two basics are mastered, anyone can make Tea Eggs.”

Lu Feng Yu laughed, “But what if the cook’s basics are not stable? Luckily you are quick-witted and sharp, and have some experience working at that restaurant. Otherwise, how could any common cook just guess all the spices and ingredients that went into the dish?”

As Lu Feng Yu spoke, he kept his eye on Su Nuan Nuan’s busy person. Just looking at her busy self gave him pleasure. When the congee was done stewing, Su Nuan Nuan impatiently had people send it to the dining hall. Then, she reached into her breast pocket and withdrew a piece of paper, “This one had written down a list of snacks and other nibbles that I believe suited to master’s taste. We will be preparing these to bring with us on the Jin Ling trip. Master please have a look at it and see if there’s anything you’d like to add or change? If there’s none, I shall start making the snacks according to this list. Since we only have one day to prepare, it’s better to hurry.”

“Very good, very good, I shall have a look.” Lu Feng Yu, who had been making his way to the door paused to read the dozen or so items which included pastries, desserts, dimsums, dried fruits and nuts of all kinds. Finally, he said, “Prepare everything according to this list. Since we only have one day, it won’t be easy to even gather the ingredients and organize everything. Luckily I have you, if it had been anyone else, it would probably be impossible.”

With that, he handed the list over to Duan Tingxuan. He glanced back at Su Nuan Nuan, but her pretty, and slim form had already turned back to face the kitchen stoves and fires. Suddenly, the image of her quick hand decisively picking up a piece of delicious grilled meat with a pair of chopsticks and placing it before him flashed through his mind. This celestial like man who had never been interested in the fairer sex suddenly felt his heart shook.

“Master, may we know how long we’ll remain at Jin Ling? If we’re to be there for a long time, we’ll need to prepare more preserved food.”

Duan Tingxuan’s polite inquiry brought Lu Feng Yu back to consciousness. For some reason, he found this cringing fellow even more hateful to behold. Just how did this common, spineless coward manage to marry such a wonderfully talented wife? What a terrible mismatch, a clever wife married to a buffoon indeed. A pity, what a terrible pity, ah! To think that I, Lu Feng Yu, a talented and good-looking scholar, a foodie who values cuisine over life, could not find such a wonderful wife among the vast sea of people in this world. Heaven is really unfair, ah! How could it play tricks with people like this!?

“I expect we’ll probably be there for about ten days. After that we won’t be staying here anymore, we’ll move on to Suzhou. I expect neither of you will have anything you’ll miss here. But if there is any, we can get people to pack them and send them onwards to Suzhou later.”

Lu Feng Yu informed them all this absentmindedly. His mind had already flown over to the dining room, anticipating the taste of the Pork & Century Egg Congee.

 

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“I really hadn’t expected the efficiency of a prince’s mansion to be so high. To think that the boat departs so early, and here I thought that we’d probably be setting out at around noon. It’s just mid-morning, but our ship is already sailing down the river.”

On the deck, Su Nuan Nuan leaned against Duan Tingxuan as she filled her senses with the shoreline scenery. At Lu Feng Yu’s insistence, the two of them became the only cooks on this large Dragon Boat. King Xiangyang had even ordered people to convert two of the cabins into kitchens. Such was the power of an emperor’s brother. With just a few words, the entire matter was arranged within less than two hours. Not even a powerful merchant with all his financial muscles could bring about such incredible change.

“Well? Now that the two of you have been with Teacher Lu this long, how’s life?”

At the familiar voice behind them, Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan turned to see Su Dong Lou strolling up to them. His eyes appeared to have just the right level of concern for a well-liked servant, but no more. However, both Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan could tell just how worried he really was.

“In answer to master, life is not bad. For a few meals, we have already received over 20 silver teals. Yesterday, after preparing just those few dried fruits and preserves for the master, we immediately received five silver teals.” Duan Tingxuan respectfully reported the matter. Su Dong Lou he laughed out loud, shaking his head as he said, “You, just look at you. Just 20 silver teals and you’re already this happy? What a money-grubber.”

“Heheh, while 20 silver teals are nothing in Master Su’s eyes, but to these servants, it’s already a small fortune. Of course they’re happy.”

No need to ask, from the clear voice alone, they knew it was Lu Feng Yu. The man had been speaking to King Xiangyang in his cabin when he saw Su Dong Lou walked by. Afraid that the other party might be trying to snatch his cooks back, he quickly made his excuses and intercepted this meeting. He was just in time to hear this last bit. To think that even though I had managed after so much effort to get them into my corner, you still try to dig them over to your side? Humph, don’t bother.

“It’s not like I’m trying to find fault with you, but since you like their food so much, why did you not bestow a bit more? You think just because others did not know, that I too am ignorant? Whenever King Xiangyang bestow silver teals to you, it’s in the thousands. Your net worth is probably higher than the richest salt merchants, so don’t be too stingy, ah.”

Su Dong Lou turned around and all he could see was Lu Feng Yu standing right behind him, quietly graceful in his snow white changpao. This evil celestial’s figure was particularly striking against the gently rippling waters of Jiang Nan’s river in spring. The pale green of willow trees and beautiful red peach blossoms served as a moving backdrop for this breathtaking view. For a moment, he could only stand there and stare. Secretly he lamented: No wonder so many people still tried to get close to this man despite his vicious and venomous personality. The vase that contained all that poison was particularly striking. Luckily His Lordship’s taste does not run to pretty men, otherwise Lu Feng Yu would probably be chained to the bed, ba?

When he thought of Lu Feng Yu’s natural arrogance, if King Xiangyang really developed some kind of yellow feelings for him, this vase of poison would probably rather die before surrendering. Or, would he be more afraid of death and could only weep and wail for his life as he struggled resentfully against his violator? If that was the case, all Su Dong Lou would have to do was gently instigate him, and that little snake would turn his fangs on his violator.

Too bad it was all a futile daydream. The respect King Xiangyang had for Lu Feng Yu was almost as close to the one he offered to his ancestors. How could he do such a beastly thing to someone he admired and respect? The pampering and respect were not in vain either, Lu Feng Yu’s allegiance was unshakeable. At least, until now there was not a single crack in that unwavering loyalty that Su Dong Lou could see.

He was still pondering over this when Lu Feng Yu pursed his lips to ridicule Su Dong Lou, “Are you calling me stingy? How long have these two been at Mingyu Residence? Have they ever received even 10 silver teals from you? It has barely been three days at my place and I had already bestowed 20 silver teals. Enough, if you had been a much more generous master in the past, I might have to use more money to win them over. However, it just so happens that their previous master is even stingier than I am, so what do I have to fear?”

As they traded barbs, Su Nuan Nuan and Duan Tingxuan watched coolly from the sides. It turned out that no matter how witty Su Dong Lou was, he was no match for Lu Feng Yu’s sharp tongue. The two were astonished, previously when they saw Lu Feng Yu at Mingyu Residence, he did not seem quite as clever? How is it that his debating skills suddenly went up several levels like this? Where’s the logic, ah?

But, how could they know that this Lu Feng Yu would immediately transform into a peerless expert when delicious food is involved? In the past, when he traded barbs with Su Dong Lou, they basically ended up in a draw. However, because of a certain misunderstanding that a certain someone wanting to snatch a certain someone else’s precious cook away, one particular opponent’s fighting power increased exponentially. A few more exchanges later, and Su Dong Lou was finally verbally beaten out of the ring.

This really pissed Su Dong Lou off. Before Lu Feng Yu, aside from martial arts, the only other thing he had that could be compared against this man was his witticism. Who would have thought that even this was soundly proven wrong?

This was too humiliating, especially with King Xiangyang and a few of his imperial guards just loitering nearby, looking at the exchange with smiles on their faces. Suddenly angry, Su Dong Lou seized upon Lu Feng Yu’s sleeves and snarled, “Clearly you’re the one who instigated His Lordship to move my cooks over to your place. You dare try to act like you’ve taken them fairly? You think I don’t dare to beat all your teeth out of your nasty little mouth?”

Lu Feng Yu lifted his head arrogantly and sneered, “What? Can’t beat me verbally so you want to beat me for real? In the end, you’re still nothing but a thug. Go ahead, ah. Beat me if you dare, let King Xiangyang admire just what kind of man the master of Mingyu House is? Let him decide if you’re a man who could do great things.”

“You…” Su Dong Lou teeth itched. Suddenly, an image flashed before his mind’s eye. Before, he had imagined Lu Feng Yu wailing and crying resentfully under the overbearing might of King Xiangyang. This time, the violator changed to himself. It was he, Su Dong Lou, who was stripping this vile, venomous, white snake bare, tying him up in red ropes to the bed. Well? Are you going to give in? If you don’t give in, I’ll just take it. I’ll take everything and bully you to death, no, I’ll bully you until you wish you were dead. Still dare to flash your fangs against me?

As he entertained this joyous image in his head, Lu Feng Yu said disdainfully, “Well? Have you had enough? If you dare not answer anymore then let go of me. Who knows whether you’ve washed your hands after breakfast? You had better not dirty my clothes, I just wore these today.”

Su Dong Lou suddenly stiffened. He let go of the clothes as though hit by electric shock and quickly retreated a few steps, shaking his head as he went.

Curse this, Su Dong Lou, have you gone mad? What was that just now? He’s Lu Feng Yu, a man, ah. How could you… could it be that you’ve overtire yourself these days and haven’t slaked your lust with a woman too long? But… to be honest, though that snake is quite poisonous, he’s still charming, ah. In this entire world, there can’t be anyone who placed himself above mere mortals like that… ah!

No, no, no, no!

Heavens, ah!

What are you thinking?

 

 

[Gumihou: Uwoooh… Uwoooh!!! What is this development?]

 

[1] A Good Meal is Remembered Once the Long Wait is Forgotten – Good things in life are worth waiting for. This is very true, I remembered waiting in line at Ikebukuro for Mutekiya’s ramen for 2.5 hours and yet, the taste stayed with me years after that. 2 hours wait is nothing.

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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