“Everyone don’t be shy, come, and have a taste of my cooking!” Wen Rou sat down as she dusted her palms and called out to everyone.
“Sure! Let me have a taste!” Sheng Yaoshan had noticed how no one seemed to be moving, so he took the initiative and daringly picked up a ball of mud.
Everyone’s eyes traveled from the plate of mudballs to the one in Sheng Yaoshan’s hand, and their eyes widened in disbelief as they prepared to watch him attempt to eat mud.
Sheng Yaoshan held the ball of mud in his hand, and looked it over, alas he could not find any opening in the layer of mud, and he could not help but think, Can this mud really be eaten? Oh what the h*ll, since Young Lady Wen made it, it must be delicious!
With this thought in his mind, he lifted up the ball of mud, bravely opened his mouth, and began to put it inside.
“Just a moment!” Upon seeing this, Wen Rou hurriedly stopped him.
“The name of this dish is called Flower Sparrow. I used the same cooking method that is used for Flower Chicken, on the sparrows that General Sheng so kindly caught for me. Although they are a bit on the small side, but I’m positive that the taste more than makes up for it! However, there a few things you need to follow while eating them!” Wen Rou carefully said as she picked up a random ball of mud and placed it in front of herself.
Sheng Yaoshan instinctively put down the mudball he had in his hand, and looked to Wen Rou for how one should eat this delicacy.
They all watched as Wen Rou firmly picked up the ball of mud, and lightly knocked it against the edge of the table.
Smack! The lump of mud cracked open.
A cloud of hot steam wafted from the hole, and instantly the atmosphere was filled with the tantalizing aroma of something tasty.
The refreshing fragrance of lotus leaves, the mouth-watering scent of cooked fat, not to mention the aroma of that just-heated mixture of sauces… Wave after wave of it went straight for the starving worms in everyone’s belly.
Wen Rou gently peeled open the layer of lotus leaves and a small lump of crimson-red meat appeared in her hand.
T/N: The author used a specific shade of red.
The outermost layer looked crispy, and was glistening with oil.
Wen Rou carefully tore off a small drumstick, and with her fingers wrapped around it, she placed the meaty part directly into her mouth, and soon started drunkenly chewing it with enjoyment.
Everyone’s eyes were on Wen Rou’s mouth right now, and they could not help but collectively swallow back their drool.
A moment later, Wen Rou nonchalantly commented, “Hmm, the flavor has penetrated the meat quite well, too bad there’s too little meat… Sparrows are definitely not as fleshy as chickens!”
Sheng Yaoshan chuckled, before he impatiently cracked open his own mudball. He tore away the lotus leaf cover, and used both of his hands to dig into the sparrow. With a drumstick in each hand, his mouth tore off a huge chunk of meat.
“It’s so good!” Sheng Yaoshan cried out.
After saying that, he took another bite. And the dish called Flower Sparrow, was completely devoured by him in a couple of bites.
“Wow what a rush!” Sheng Yaoshan exclaimed.
On the other side, Wen Rou was still delicately savoring the taste of her Flower Sparrow. All of a sudden, the basket of mudballs were covered in a layer of hands.
And upon looking at the scene again, all the mudballs had been cracked open. Everyone else either had one hand on a drumstick or two hands out as they gnawed on a chicken wing. Some sucked gently at the flesh, and there were some chewing with abandon; and for a while, all that could be heard was the sounds of eating.
Only Ren Yue was seated in the midst of all this, shaking his head as he watched how everyone’s table manners had devolved into this mess.
“Ren San, why aren’t you eating?” Sheng Yaoshan asked as he lifted up his head and licked his fingers.
“Sir, have another!” Ren Yue ignored Sheng Yaoshan’s question. Instead, he carefully held back one of his sleeves, and used his chopsticks to pick up a ball of mud. With steady hands, he managed to pick it up and place it in front of Sir Song Tao without accidentally dropping it.
“Ren San, come on, you’ll regret it if you don’t eat this! I mean look at me, Sheng Yaoshan, I’ve been all across the North and the South, what delicacies have I not tried? And yet this Flower Sparrow by Young Lady Wen is absolutely exquisite! She borrowed the Flower Chicken’s method of cooking, and gave us an eye-opening experience! However, for us to only have meat, and no wine, it’s such a pity!” After this, Sheng Yaoshan let out a soft sigh, as if to grieve over the lack of wine; before he shook his head and laughed again.
“Elder brother Yaoshan, I know where we can find some wine!” Liu Xian only heard that Sheng Yaoshan wanted some wine, and before he could even swallow the piece of meat in his mouth, his chubby limbs were soon sprinting away.
Hardly a moment later, they all watched as Liu Xian struggled to carry over a vat of wine, carefully placing it down in front of Sheng Yaoshan.
The minute Ren Yue caught sight of the vat, his face turned pale as a ghost.
“Your Highness, this is…” Sheng Yaoshan asked in surprise as he pointed at the vat of wine.
“Elder brother Ren Yue brought it back last time! Hehe.” As Liu Xian explained, he sneakily glanced at Ren Yue.
“There’s not much left, everyone have a bit ba~ If we finish it tonight, I’ll just go and buy some more.” Ren Yue was still expressionless, and he rose to his feet to divide what was left of the wine. He poured Sheng Yaoshan, Sir Song Tao, and himself a little.
“Huh! So this is the Morning Dew Wine from last time… You haven’t even finished it yet?!” Sheng Yaoshan lifted up his bowl and gulped down a large mouthful as he laughed.
“What, did you think I was like you?! Drinking wine as cow drinks water?!” Ren Yue shot back before taking a small sip of his own share.
“Keke, this glorious scent coupled with this beautiful wine, sampled as we enjoy the leisure of the countryside, this truly is one of the wonders of life ah!” Sir Song Tao shook his head, it seemed like he had quite enjoyed the meal.
“Sir, it seems like accepting this idiot as your disciple was quite the bargain for you right?” Wen Ting promptly took action when he saw this, and leant over toward him.
“You little rascal, hurry up and finish eating! Once you finish go and memorise some books! Your sister is your sister, and you are you! If you don’t work hard at your studies, and you embarrass me at next year’s county level imperial exam, I won’t forgive you!” Sir Song Tak cracked open his eyes as he sent Wen Ting a death glare.
“Of course! Sir!” Wen Ting awkwardly rubbed his nose, as he felt aggrieved. He was little rascal at home, and little rascal here, haih! I swear to work hard, and one day I’ll be able to leave behind the nickname little rascal!
“Sir, elder brother has always been very clever, even when he was much younger. Now that he will have Sir’s guidance, I’m positive that next year elder brother will definitely be able to showcase his caliber!” Wen Rou said as she tried to help her brother.
“We’re all brothers, if you have something you don’t understand, we’ll chip in to help!” Sheng Yaoshan added.
“Sheng Yaoshan! You! You dare to drink my wine!” Ren Yue shouted with fury.
Everyone turned to look between Sheng Yaoshan and Ren Yue.
What they saw was the sight of an empty wine bowl in front of Sheng Yaoshan, he truly had taken a huge gulp from the wine bowl in front of Ren Yue.
“Hey! We’re brothers, why must you be so hasty to separate us… What do you mean by your thing or mine, if we have wine, everyone should drink together!” Sheng Yaoshan seemed unfazed by this.
“Who wants to drink together with you?!” Ren Yue was a little pissed, and he pushed his own wine bowl in front of Sheng Yaoshan. He picked up the chopsticks and prepared to take some of the dishes, but to his dismay, he found that nothing on the table seemed to be of his taste.
So all he could do was put down his chopsticks, pick up a plain salted Chinese pancake, and began to take small bites of it.
“Young Sir Ren, does nothing match your taste?” Wen Rou asked when she noticed his actions.
“Young Lady Wen, don’t worry about him! This entire table is covered with delicious food, and the rest of us can’t wait to eat! So how would there be anything that doesn’t match our taste? He’s a grown-man, yet he acts like a delicate daughter, picking at his food like he was a woman.” Sheng Yaoshan looked at Ren Yue as he said this, then he laughed, and picking up another sparrow, he placed it inside his mouth.
“I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather recently, and recently it has been quite hot and humid here. I’d be better off eating something plain.” Ren Yue ignored Sheng Yaoshan again, and concentrated on Wen Rou.
“Mmm, Young Sir Ren, just wait a moment. I’ll go and fry you a plate of bok choy!” And Wen Rou flew back to the kitchens.
Alas, the moment she stepped into the kitchen, Wen Rou began to regret her actions.
This fellow Ren Yue! He had been a picky eater in the past life, and who knows how much trouble it had brought him! This life, I’m definitely going to cure him of this bad habit!
This was what Wen Rou was thinking about, as she looked around the kitchens. She picked up 2 leftover sparrows from just now, and agilely began chopping them up.
Some fresh ginger and green onions were thrown into the wok. Then as it burned on high-heat, the leaves of lush, green vegetables were tossed into the air, as small pearls of white began to surface on top of the greens.
“Make way for the Pearl Soup!” Wen Rou shouted as she balanced a huge bowl in her hands.
“Mmm… It smells so good! What is this?” Shui Mo tilted his head questioningly.
“Vegetable soup.” Wen Rou replied with a straight-face.
“I thought you said you were going to fry a plate of vegetables? Why did you make this instead?” Ren Yue noticed how clear and refreshing the soup looked, especially how vibrant the green color of the vegetables was and upon visual confirmation that there was no meat, he dished out a bowl for himself.
“There wasn’t enough bok choy for one whole plate, so I decided to make some soup instead.” Wen Rou replied seriously as she tried to hold back her laughter.
“This soup is really fresh, Meimei, what ingredients did you use?” Wen Ting asked, after having a bowl.
“Only bok choy and some dough.” Came Wen Rou’s one-line reply.
“Oh really? I didn’t know dough could taste like this!” Sheng Yaoshan exclaimed after taking a sip.
“What do you think Young Sir Ren?” Wen Rou asked as she looked at Ren Yue.
“It’s alright, merely something quite plain and palatable!” Ren Yue’s head didn’t even lift up as he replied, he was much too focused on finishing off his bowl of soup, and soon he was scooping out another bowl for himself.
“Mmm, if it’s plain then that’s good… Have some more.” Wen Rou couldn’t help but laugh at his reaction inside. What flour, those pearls are obviously made of sparrow-meat! They’re just hidden amongst the leaves of the bok choy!
It seems that Ren Yue wasn’t averse to eating meat, he just didn’t like the appearance of oily, cooked meat! Haih! This ‘cultured-ness’ of scholars! As for the true nature of this bowl of soup, he was better off not knowing about it. This way, she could slowly change his perception. Wen Rou thought silently to herself, before once again joining in on the happy atmosphere of everyone talking and eating.
“Young Lady Wen, this Morning Dew Wine of yours is really a treasure! I remember that day when I had some, I couldn’t stop revisiting the taste. If you ever have the time young lady, do brew some more! New Year is just round the corner, and I wish to bring some back with me, so that my brothers in the Capital can get a taste!” Sheng Yaoshan put down his chopsticks as he spoke.
“Wine can’t just be given for free! One tael of silver for a vat!” Wen Ting hastily answered as soon as he heard him.
“Wen Ting, when have I, Sheng Yaoshan, ever said that I would be taking it for free?! Here’s the deposit for 50 vats of wine, if it’s not too much trouble, Young Lady Wen!” Sheng Yaoshan carelessly reached inside his robes and pulled out a paper note worth 100 taels of silver, and slammed it down on the table in front of Wen Rou.
“Don’t worry General Sheng, just come and take them from the Drunken Immortal Restaurant before you leave!” Wen Rou didn’t push it away, and confidently tucked the paper note somewhere inside the robes around her waist.
“Keep the change, take it as repayment for your kind service these days Young Lady Wen!” Sheng Yaoshan waved his hand dismissively as a broad smile appeared on his face.
“General Sheng don’t be silly. On the day you come for the wine, I’ll settle the debt of the silver I owe you.” Wen Rou firmly replied with her hands together. Inside, she could not help but think, he’s just like he was in the past life! He uses gold like it’s earth! I know your Prime Minister’s Family is a wealthy one, but you don’t need to be this generous! Silver is hard-earned money, and it would do you better if you were more careful about your expenses!
“Girl, it seems like I’m to grow dependent on your skills! Just let the little rascal study with me, and from today, I’ll have my daily meals at your Drunken Immortal Restaurant! But don’t be too extravagant with the dishes, not like that prefectural magistrate, after all, this old official’s pay is limited… Keke…” Sir Song Tao was quite satisfied upon finishing his meal, and all the wrinkles on his face seemed to have relaxed.
“Don’t worry Sir, feel free to tell me what you like to eat! Don’t hold back, and this little lady will try her best to fulfill it!” Wen Rou replied.
“You’ve finally stopped calling me old geezer, keke!” Sir Song Tao commented as he plucked at his beard.
That night, the news of Sir Song Tao accepting Wen Ting as his disciple was finally made known to the Wen Family.
Finally, Wen Shou knew just why his daughter had been so busy recently, and he could not help but begin to tear up.
“You little rascal, you’re quite blessed! I guess this means that there’s hope for you still, at the county level imperial exams next year!” Wen Shou joyfully cried out.
“Father, since elder brother’s worries have been solved, from tomorrow onwards, I still want to go with you to learn about cooking at the Drunken Immortal Restaurant!” Wen Rou sweetly said.
“Of course! I’ll definitely teach you all my skills!” Wen Shou resolutely claimed.
The next day...
End of Chapter