41.1 Shaking Noodles
When Nian Bing heard this, his heart involuntarily shrank. Honestly speaking, the primary reason he left Ice and Snow City was because of himself, but at the same time, he had another reason – to avoid the attractive beauties there. He knew that, though they were good people, they would weaken his will. He had never imagined in a thousand years that Xue Jing would actually chase after him or even want to come and travel the continent with him. How was he supposed to respond?
“Jing Jing, don’t be like this. My master already told me that my culinary arts had finished their apprenticeship, but I still need more comprehension to tread the peak of culinary arts. Therefore, I must travel the continent for at least seven to eight years. You can’t always be following me!”
Xue Jing smiled. “Why can’t I? Anyways, you can’t toss me aside. No matter how many years it will be, I will follow you. If you feel that this is inconvenient, then it will be fine if you just marry me. I won’t feel too aggrieved to marry you, okay?”
Nian Bing was speechless. He was truly afraid of Xue Jing. Forcing a smile, he replied, “Don’t fool around, how do I suit you? Young Miss, I beg you to let me go. For you to have come here to find me, did Uncle Xue agree?”
Xue Jing stuck her tongue out and answered, “How are you ill-suited for me? I think you feel that I do n’t suit you. I secretly ran away, but I left Father a letter.”
Nian Bing’s heart was unhappy. At the moment, he had already recovered from the shock of Xue Jing’s appearance. His face immediately assumed a hurt expression as he looked at Xue Jing without saying a word.
Xue Jing went blank for a moment before asking, “Nian Bing, what’s wrong with you?”
Nian Bing sighed lightly and replied, “Jing Jing, you are gravely mistaken! How could you leave home to come here? You are Uncle Xue’s only daughter; he has placed all of his hopes onto you. This year, he will be over sixty years old. As his daughter, you should stay by his side and be filial to him! If you sneak off to find me, did you think of how much Uncle Xue would worry?”
When Xue Jing heard Nian Bing bring up her father, she immediately lowered her head. Although she had a bad temperament, she was extremely filial to her father. In a low voice she said, “I… I didn’t think of that! But you had suddenly left, and I felt like the whole Pure Wind House was empty, so I decided to come find you. I thought that Father would definitely forgive me.”
He didn’t even need to deliberately shift his mood. While thinking of his parents, Nian Bing’s face would immediately show a sincere expression. “Jing Jing, compared to me you are much more fortunate. Do you know how much I want to be with my parents? But there’s no way that I can. If my parents could be safe and happy, I would definitely throw away everything else so I could stay by their side and do my filial duty. I really want to see my father and mother again! But I cannot.” His sorrowful aura was true. At this moment, he was not pretending at all. When he thought of his parents, his deep hatred for the Ice God’s Pagoda bubbled forth.
Sensing Nian Bing’s sorrowful air, Xue Jing could not help but go blank. “Nian Bing, are you alright? Your parents? I had never heard you talk about your family matters.”
Nian Bing breathed in deeply and said, “I have no way of confirming whether they are alive or dead. Although I know whose hands they fell into, I can’t go there to look for them. Jing Jing, do you know what kind of person I hate the most? It’s an unfilial child. Right now you still have your father. But you secretly left and made Uncle Xue worry! Listen to me. Today, you can rest in Ice Orchid City for the night, but tomorrow you must hurry on home. While you’re at it you can ask Uncle Xue to wait for me to finish travelling the continent. I will definitely come back to the Pure Wind House to see you.”
Nian Bing’s voice was very sincere, but Xue Jing felt that something was not right. Before she had left Ice and Snow City, she had went to see Luo Rou. If not, she would not have known the direction that Nian Bing had left. Luo Rou had told her that Nian Bing was an extremely complicated person. If she wanted to go find him, she had to be careful and not trust Nian Bing’s words.
Xue Jing thought for a moment. “Nian Bing, if it’s like that then tomorrow I will write Father a letter and tell him that I am safe. Then we can go to the Profound Orchid Empire together. Luo Rou said you were going to send a letter for her. Once you’ve delivered the letter then I will go back, okay?” Her gaze was filled with warmth. All traces of the Wild Girl had disappeared. Although she did not completely believe Nian Bing’s words, Nian Bing had moved her. When she was very little, her mother had passed away. She and her father had to depend on each other for survival. Xue Ji was both her father and her mother. He had raised her with great difficulty. The feelings between a father and a daughter in Xue Ji were extremely deep. Hearing Nian Bing’s words, the feelings of their father-daughter relationship bubbled forth, making her feel uncomfortable about secretly leaving.
After delivering the letter in Profound Orchid Empire she would leave? Was this true? Nian Bing harbored doubt in his heart, but Xue Jing had already said as much. He really didn’t have a reason to refuse. He could only helplessly nod and say, “Fine. However, I will say in advance that you can’t cause any trouble for me on the road. If you do, I will definitely not agree to you coming with me.”
Xue Jing giggled and said, “Don’t worry, I will listen to everything you say. Then it should be fine. I will even promise you that I will try my hardest to control my temper.” When she said this, she was already counting her chickens in her heart. When she had left Ice and Snow City to chase after Nian Bing, she had already confirmed Nian Bing’s place in her heart. At this moment she was thinking, Did you not teach me that I should be brave and chase after the one I like? It will take at least fifteen to twenty days to arrive at the Profound Orchid Empire capital. I can’t believe that no feelings will be born between us in that amount of time. In terms of her figure and looks, Xue Jing had the utmost confidence in herself. If she could make Nian Bing go back with her, then all of her problems would be resolved.
Right at this moment, the waiter came out with a platter. “Sir, your order is ready.” While saying this, he placed three plates one by one on the table.
Nian Bing looked at the food and his expression suddenly shifted. His heart cried out in happiness. Even if he could make these three things, he was afraid that he still wouldn’t be any faster than the chef here. The faint fragrance assaulted his nostrils. The most fragrant one was naturally the golden aromatic ring.
Xue Jing asked with surprise, “Is this not a golden aromatic ring? How could they sell this here too?”
Nian Bing smiled slightly and said, “Jing Jing, we should try it first and see how this chef matches up with Chef Ming.” While saying this, he picked up his chopsticks and picked up a golden aromatic ring and chewed it in his mouth. The instant the golden aromatic ring entered his mouth, Nian Bing was immediately moved. He turned his gaze to Xue Jing, and at the same time Xue Jing looked at him.
“Nian Bing, do you know the chef here? How could he make a golden aromatic ring just like Uncle Ming? Uncle Ming said that the secret of the golden aromatic ring was specially passed down in his bloodline. Except for him and his master, only your master Senior Demon Chef would know it. How could this be?”
Nian Bing shook his head and said, “I also don’t know. Let’s try these two. Do you know what kind of wheat foods they are?”
Xue Jing had been attracted by the golden aromatic ring and only paid attention to the other dishes when he asked her. She vacantly shook her head. “Nian Bing, what are these?”
Nian Bing pointed to the plate where the yellow, cake-like food was neatly stacked up. “This is a Donkey Roll. This is one of the signature foods of the Harmonic Flower Empire, but making it is extremely difficult. I think that you will definitely love it. Try a bit.”
Xue Jing picked up a Donkey Roll and took a small bite. After nibbling on it for a while, her face immediately lit up with wonder. “It’s delicious, very delicious! How is this thing made? It’s fragrant and sweet, but also a bit sticky. The flavor is extremely wonderful.”
Nian Bing also picked up a piece to eat. While eating it, he said, “It is pretty good. This is an authentic donkey roll. The flavor control is extremely good. Actually, donkey rolls are also called bean flour cake because it is made out of soybean flour rolled up, like a donkey rolling around in the countryside stirring up dust. It’s base ingredient is yellow rice flour steamed with water. When it’s time to knead the dough, you add more water to make it soft. You then fry the soybean separately and crush it into powder. After the yellow rice flour is finished, you roll the soybean flour into sheets around it. Then smear red bean paste as filling and roll it up, then cut it into small pieces. Sprinkle some white sugar, and it’s done.”
Having eaten a donkey roll, Xue Jing could not wait to try the other dish. She pointed at the other plate and asked, “What is that? It looks yellow, and kind of weak. It looks like a fragile, transparent crystal and smells a bit like ginger.”
Nian Bing smiled and said, “This is ginger dough twist. It is more famous than donkey rolls. It’s a delicacy that comes from the southernmost part of the Strange Lu Empire and is popular with children. When my master was first teaching me about snacks, he told me that he had personally gone to the Strange Lu Empire and exhausted every method to obtain the authentic way of cooking it. It‘s the same as the golden ring in the way that it has its own mnemonic for cooking. It goes like this: ‘It is completely handmade for children. The crispy pastry with the sweet ginger taste confirms the brilliancy of his culinary talent.’ The key word here is the word ‘crispy.’ In the process of making fried, sliced ginger, you can tell from its name that its ingredients include fresh ginger – it was named after fresh ginger.
“It is made by shaving ginger into thin sheets and mincing it, then adding flour in equal proportions with alum together into a basin. Cold water is then used to form them into dough balls. Next, you roll the dough out flat with a rolling pin five to six times, turning it into a smooth, even sheet. After sprinkling a bit of starch, you lay two strips on top of each other and use a knife to cut scores into the dough. Then you twist it through and fry it with hot oil. After it is finished frying, the ginger twist needs a sugar coating.”
“To add the coating, you must first place the shaved fresh ginger and soak the ginger in water to boil. Then you add some white sugar. After the water comes to boil, add malt sugar and osmanthus flower and continue to cook it on a low flame. Then add the fried flour to the boiled ginger sheets with the osmanthus flower and malt sugar mix. The fried flour will turn into a light yellow color. It will be crispy, sweet and fragrant – a very delicious taste. There is no need to eat this fried food; you can tell it’s good solely from its appearance. Normally, I can make one at this level.”
Xue Jing was extremely familiar with Nian Bing’s culinary skills. Naturally, she understood that by normally he meant without using magic. For the three dishes in front of him to acclaim such praise, it seems that the chef here is not ordinary.
“Clap, clap, clap.” A drum-like applause suddenly sounded. A clear, melodious voice, said, “Good, I said that whoever could order these three wheat products must be a connoisseur! Nice to meet you, nice to meet you.” Nian Bing and Xue Jing turned to the direction of the voice to see a charming girl wearing a chef’s outfit come out from the back room, looking straight at them.
Seeing this girl, Nian Bing and Xue Jing could not help but gasp in surprise. They saw something very ugly, something so ugly that they had never seen the likes of before. These days, Nian Bing had seen too many beauties. He really could not cope with the sudden encounter of this sort of exceptionally hideous girl. That girl’s figure seemed to be pretty okay; her tall physique still held delicate curves. However, her face could only be described as frightening. A nose hooked like an eagle’s beak, a monobrow, protruding cheekbones and tiny eyes. The scariest thing was her mouth, where her two, yellow buck teeth stuck out like a rabbit. Looking at her appearance, there might be no one who would still have the appetite to eat. It was a spectacle too tragic to endure, really too terrible! However, she didn’t only have bad points. Perhaps it was because her appearance was terrible, but her skin looked extremely white and fair. That kind of tender feeling, if you didn’t see her face, there would be many people captivated by it.
Standing there, a feeling of pity flashed through Nian Bing’s eyes. He walked up to the girl and asked, “Are you the head chef here?”
The girl looked at Nian Bing and nodded. “That is right; I am the head chef here, and I am the only chef. When I heard your evaluation of my three flour foods, I knew that you were a true connoisseur.”
Nian Bing smiled and replied, “I do not dare call myself connoisseur. I was attracted by the word ‘Superb’ on the signboard. It seems that these three gold coins were truly well spent. For you to be able to make these three dishes, your heat control must be outstanding. Especially in the donkey roll. I could make a thousand-layer donkey roll, but it wouldn’t be as delicious as yours.” He was an expert in knife arts and big meals. Although he had worked hard at making flour pastries, if Nian Bing truly asked himself, without his ice and fire magic it would be very difficult for him to beat this girl. It seemed that this girl’s age is not any older than his own. To be this young and to have reached a point of perfection in her culinary skill, Nian Bing couldn’t help but admire her in his heart. She was the same as him, having received pointers from a master.