…I really thought that I’d be able to keep ahead by one chapter for bonus chapters, but I underestimated chapter 8. Anyways, no one answered last time so I’m just going to keep going with the new format because I think it looks better. Also, I checked the author’s page like, last week, and you know what I realized? He writes a new chapter everyday! And there are over 500 of them!! Buckle in cause we’re probably never going to reach the raws. Enjoy the chapter~
“……the moment you finish eating, we’re leaving”
With a face that looked 40% more sullen than usual, Ai-Fa-sama said that.
Well, it’s because of me that she’s angry so it can’t be helped though. Even so, after hitting my head 5, 6 times with the handle of her sword, it’s about time that you shouldn’t be in such a bad mood anymore, is what I think.
By the way, what was served for breakfast, was the Giba’s dried meat.
It’s also a troublesome thing to eat.
Even though it’s torn into thin strips that seem to have the same thickness in millimeters as a Sakiika snack1, no matter how much I chew and chew. It was as if the meat was made of rubber.
And as expected, it tastes like an animal. Surely, the blood wasn’t drained enough.
Ai-Fa was leaning against the wall facing me and radiating a don’t-come-closer aura, while I was chewing on the dried Giba meat, standing alone beside the Kamado.
Looking at the bottom of the beautifully cleaned metal pot, I thought back to yesterday’s dinner.
Yesterday’s dinner一一was the worst.
For me, it was a moment of torture.
(No matter what, I couldn’t hide it……)
Clearly stating to someone else “it tastes bad!” after they provided food, probably, that was the first time I had done so since I was born.
Normally, it would be a gaffe that would send me down a spiral of self loathing.
The only reason it didn’t happen, was because Ai-Fa made a unfamiliar face.
“……there’s no such thing as a good or bad meal”
I ended up hearing that 3 times in one day, it’s a rant2.
Perhaps, for the clans of the People of the Forest, meals, might actually just be a means of nutrition.
Even so, that food was terrible.
First, the Giba meat.
The Giba meat, was hard.
And also, it was unusually gamey.
No matter how poor quality the pork, or beef, it wouldn’t ever smell this bad.
Also, if it was boiled enough, it shouldn’t be so hard that you couldn’t even chew it. The surface was squishy, but the inside was still stringy, and it had a texture like melted rubber……In short, the texture was also the worst.
On the other hand, as for the onions, the texture was good.
If it’s only the texture, it was nice and crispy.
But, that’s it.
My first impression, was “As expected onions don’t go well with hot pot”.
Next, the potato.
That, what the heck is it?
In the form of a solid, nothing remained. Only a creamy, powdery liquid was left, it was like it was thrown in, just to completely destroy the consistency.
The strongest image was, “flour dissolved in water”.
Now, I’d like you to imagine.
A sludgy soup with dissolved flour.
Onions with a crispy texture.
Gamey, fatty meat.
The only seasoning, being black pepper.
Do you think that this would be delicious?
Unfortunately, that’s impossible.
And, for me, the one cruelest point was.
“The smell and flavour are outstandingly good”, that was the one point.
The smell, was the best.
The umami components of the meat and fat, must have seeped out quite a bit into that white cloudy liquid.
There was also the flavour of spices like black pepper added in, it had already, reached the level where with just the smell alone you could eat white rice.
In spite of this, it tastes bad.
When you eat the meat or soup, the animal odor’s flavour is even more focused.
Hence一一it was a torturous moment.
Even though all of this stimulated my appetite to the core, my mouth was invaded by objects that contradict it all. To be honest, without the gratitude I had for the ingredients and Ai-Fa, I don’t even think I could’ve eaten half the bowl.
Such a thing, I ate 3 bowls.
On the last one, I was fighting against the urge to vomit.
And then when the stomach was completely filled, my brain continued to whisper “so, when will you start eating a meal?” all the way until I fell asleep.
So I’m sure, that’s why I had that dream yesterday.
“……What are you spacing out for? It’s about time to go”
She said in a prickly voice, while raising her face. Ai-Fa had already put on her fur mantle, hung her big and small blades on her waist, and had completely completed her preparations for departure.
“Ah, wait a second! Where’s my Santoku knife?”
“The knife. Yesterday, did you store it?”
Ai-Fa stayed silent, and pointed her chin to the door at the back of the room.
I think it was the door to the right, so I headed over there.
For the record, yesterday me and Ai-Fa both fell asleep in the hall, so I haven’t seen inside the three rooms in the back yet.
I slowly and carefully opened the sliding door 一一and at that moment, the smell exploded.
“uwa……this is amazing, this”
I had expected it, but it’s a pantry.
Jute bags lay on the floor, and from within the familiar onions and potatoes peeked out.
Hanging on the wall, were various kinds of plants. Pitch black dried wakame seaweed, and strange, elongated, lush leaves, were also suspended here and there.
At the back of the room, a space of about 2 meters square was separated by a square box, inside, black powder was tightly packed.
The height of the walls of the box, was about the same as my knee.
The source of the smell, was this.
That, the one that was sprinkled on the Giba meat, is a spice like black pepper.
Before saying whether it’s good or bad, the stimulation is too strong. In the room without windows, the particles were densely melted into the air, if I wasn’t careful, then the mucus membranes of my eyes, nose, and throat would likely break.
(I see. So it’s like this that you preserve the Giba meat)
Still, I can’t win against my innate curiosity, and with slightly teary eyes I continue observing.
In the middle of this mountain of spices, the Giba meat should be sealed.
The meat isn’t salted, it’s preserved with pepper.
But well, without cooling equipment, such treatment is inevitable. In this area where the temperature and humidity are moderate, raw meat would spoil in no time.
(Nn……Perhaps, could this dried leaf be its raw material?)
Hanging on the wall, were the shriveled leaves. They look like wakame seaweed that has turned black, and when you touch them, their fibers crumble down.
(Fumufumu. So when these leaves are dried, they turn into a spice that’s like black pepper. If the europeans from the Age of Discovery see this, they’d be attracted to them in joy)
As I was absorbed in my thoughts, from behind my back a “What are you doing, you?” was called.
In the entrance of the pantry, Ai-Fa’s silhouette, backlit by the morning, stood.
Leaning against the wall, arms crossed, and head slightly tilted, her eyes glowed with a light that could not be more suspicious.
“The knife is here. Come out at once. The scent will fade”
“Ah, sorry. There were various things that drew my interest”
When I was prompted out of the room by Ai-Fa, the morning sun was dazzling. I feel like I’ve been pickled in pepper in just a couple tens of seconds.
“Uwa, my nose hurts! It’s so strong, that spice”
“……Are you an idiot? What fun is it to gaze at food that you aren’t eating?”
“It is fun. Remember what I said yesterday? I, was a cook’s son”
“……Cooks and such, only exist in the Stone Capital. If you want to aim for such a thing, learn the ways of this world”
She grumpily said, as she thrust the Santoku knife to my chest.
“Oh no, it would be impossible to aim for a cook in a world where I don’t know left and right. ……By the way, why did you keep my knife in such a stimulating room?”
It’s not that I think that spices could cause the cutting edge to rust. It’s just that, I’m a bit afraid of the smell transferring onto it.
“……It’s because only in that room, there are no windows. Of course, there aren’t many shameless people like Diga-Sun who would break through the window bars and sneak into another’s house, but the safest place, is in that pantry”
“Ah, so that’s it. You’ve been taking good care of me. ……thank you”
Between Ai-Fa’s eyebrows, a wrinkle creased.
Probably this girl, isn’t very used to being thanked.
“……We’ve wasted a lot of time. Until the Sun rises to the middle of the sky, it’s pico leaf and firewood collection. If you don’t want to be called a waste of food, be at least a little useful”
“Aye aye sir! ……but before that, I have a request, will you listen to it, Ai-Fa?”
Naturally, Ai-Fa made a confused and disgusted face.
Her precious beauty was ruined, really.
“What else could you possibly want me to care for? You’re a surprisingly impudent man, Asuta”
“No, I wish I could take even a little bit of hard work off your shoulders is how I feel. ……Starting from tonight, could you let me cook dinner?”
Ai-Fa was making a bitter face, but the moment she heard what I said, she made a face that looked like a pigeon hit by a peashooter.
That expression, is kind of adorable.
“What’s with that? Preparing meals and such, isn’t really that much of a big deal. Such a thing, even a 10 year old child can do such a job”
Ai-Fa lowered her eyebrows in confusion, and looked around at me from top to bottom.
She had an expression that looked as if she encountered a dog that walked on two legs.
You might have different preferences, but I thought it was cute.
“I don’t understand. ……what you meant by “cook”, is that what it is?”
“I’m just an apprentice. But I think, it’s a feeling that a cook can relate to”3
“……Do what you want. How you prepare your meals and such, doesn’t matter to me”
After saying that, this time Ai-Fa turned her feet towards the doorway.
While chasing that slender back, I secretly breathed a breath of relief.
I already half-heartedly resigned myself, that because it was like I was clearly stating “your food tastes bad so let me make it”, maybe her knife would be swung around once again.
But seemingly, Ai-Fa really did seem to think “I don’t care” about food.
Happiness and sadness, it’s honestly a complicated feeling.
(But well, it is true that the spirit of challenge excites me)
What I felt last night, the dissatisfaction and depression.
I, want to get rid of it.
The Giba’s meat, should be able to become a more delicious ingredient.
Ingredients with such a good smell, to end up being eaten in such a bad tasting state, isn’t that a blasphemy against the ingredients?
I haven’t yet found a strategy to approach the onions and potatoes. At the very least for the Giba meat, its potential hasn’t yet been fully realized, I’m sure.
The knowledge I have on how to cook boar meat, is just passing knowledge. But if I apply it, how much of the Giba meat’s power could I draw out? Just imagining that is making my heart pound in excitement, and making my stomach get hungry.
(Also……), while secretly glancing at the figure of Ai-Fa wrapping her leather belt-like footwear around her toes, I thought.
Her too, I want her to try my food.
As an apprentice chef, all I can do is cook a little bit of food.4
For the Ai-Fa who doesn’t seem to have any attachment or interest to the act of eating, it might not really matter. No one would be in a bad mood after eating something delicious.
This, for the girl who always has a moody looking face, let’s say, if I can make her make a slightly happier looking face then I would get a passing mark.
Cooking Giba meat, and making my benefactor happy.
If you said it in a very extreme way, this gave me a purpose for my life.
As I thought about that, I felt that the dark clouds that had accumulated in my chest, cleared up a little bit.
“……By the way, is your foot’s condition alright?”
Ai-Fa who had finished wrapping on her footwear, unexpectedly asked me that.
“Yeah. It should be fine for walking normally. ……Thanks for worrying about me”
“No one’s worried about you. If you say “I can’t walk anymore” after entering the forest, I’ll leave you where you are and go home”
After saying that in a particularly displeased manner, “……that’s why, if you feel that something’s wrong don’t overdo it, and tell me right away”, she added.
Seriously, you really are a benefactor worth repaying.
“Understood” I said, as I stepped into the dazzling morning of another world.
1. Sakiika snack:
2. Not sure how to TL.
3. As in the feeling of wanting to make food I’d imagine.
4. Not quantity, but variety.