48.1 Camel Chef Zi Xiu
Miss Meng’s smile had already vanished. “You made an error; I am twenty-two years old, and my name is Zi Qing Meng. You can call me by my name as there is no need for formality. Our culinary faculty is a small faculty in the college, and the only one smaller than us is the magic faculty. All the faculties have over a thousand students. We are divided into five grades; every grade has five classes which are cooking with heat, cold foods, wheat products, medicinal cuisine, and regional specialties. The biggest class is cooking with heat; probably a third of students in each year study this. As for me, I am a student of the cold foods department in the fifth year. I’m also the teacher for the knife arts department. So, you could say that I’m both.”
A knife arts teacher? It seems that he wasn’t mistaken! He specialized in knife arts the most, so he must get the chance to exchange pointers with her. While thinking this, Nian Bing had already followed Zi Qing Meng to the entrance of the college. The four students in charge of guard duty looked at her and immediately straightened up, their eyes deferential as they greeted orderly, “Hello Senior.”
Zi Qing Meng nodded but didn’t linger and led Nian Bing into the college. “Why do they call you senior but not teacher?” Nian Bing asked with puzzlement.
Zi Qing Meng shot him a glance and said, “Because I am just a fifth grade student in martial arts faculty, so of course they would call me senior. Oh, I forgot to tell you, if you can pass the test, then you can study multiple professions. Of course, you still need to pay the school fees and pass the faculty’s exam.”
Nian Bing’s heart jumped as he felt the cold aura from Zi Qing Meng. He said, “I think that you must be primarily training in martial arts, and the culinary faculty was your elective?” His gaze wasn’t directed at her, but on the gigantic mall in front of him. There was at least a thousand people in the mall engaged in all sorts of activities. Some were chatting, some were swapping pointers in martial arts, and some were walking, but the thousand or so people at this training ground seemed lonely. The giant mall was paved with an unknown material, but the ground looked blueish-green and extremely hard. Buildings around the mall would reach eight floors in height. These were most likely the school buildings. This was also the first time that Nian Bing had seen such tall buildings; his curiosity towards this Orchid Dream College increased even more.
Zi Qing Meng looked at Nian Bing, surprised. “How did you know?”
Nian Bing smiled and replied, “If I said it was a guess, would you believe me?” Of course, he had guessed, but his guess was based on the fact that when Zi Qing Meng introduced the Orchid Dream College, she had first talked about the martial arts faculty and not the culinary faculty, and when she was talking about the glory of the martial arts faculty, her face had shown a very proud expression, but when she talked about the culinary faculty, her expression had been more neutral. Nian Bing was good at observation, and through her unconscious display of emotions, he was able to make an accurate guess.
ZI Qing Meng didn’t pursue the matter further. The two silently crossed the mall; she directly led Nian Bing to the western school building. Right before they arrived at the building, she didn’t bring him straight through the front, but brought him around to the back. “The main outer buildings are used for the bigger faculty lessons. The culinary faculty is over in that building. Don’t forget, because the dorms are also there.”
‘There’ was a five story building. If it were in any other place, a five storied building would be extremely tall, but compared to the eight story buildings outside, it was nothing. The entire building seemed to take up quite a bit of area, and the students coming and going wore the exact same clothes as the students in the mall: a deep blue uniform. However, the emblem on their chests read ‘Culinary Arts’.
Zi Qing Meng brought Nian Bing to the entrance to an office on the fifth floor. She pushed open the door without knocking and entered with Nian Bing behind her. He hadn’t had the chance to look around when he heard a shriek.
“Ah! Who isn’t following the rules, entering the door without knocking…Little Meng, so it was you! Do you want to scare me to death? Next time knock okay?”
Nian Bing peeped from behind Zi Qing Meng to see a man and a woman trying to put on their clothes. The man looked to be over fifty years old. He had a bit of a hunchback, with a circle of red hair surrounding a bald spot. Small eyes, a garlic-shaped nose, large mouth. It wasn’t even too much to use vilifying adjectives to describe his appearance. The strange thing was, the woman being intimate with him was obviously much younger. She only looked to be about thirty years in age and pretty. Her figure and countenance were pretty good, and at the moment, she was blushing as she put on her clothes.
Zi Qing Meng said coldly, “I brought a new student for you, Casanova.”
The hunchbacked man coughed several times, then said, “Isn’t it fine if you just decided on the new students? Why do you need to bring him here? Okay, you two come in. Little Yiyi, you leave first. If I have time, I’ll go and find you.”
Hearing him use a coy voice to say ‘Little Yiyi,’ Nian Bing had the sudden impulse to turn and leave. This was the chairman of the culinary faculty? The middle-aged woman cast her coquettish gazes at the faculty chairman, seeming to not see the handsome Nian Bing. Dragging her upper clothes with her, she left calmly. It seemed that Zi Qing Meng was already accustomed to this as her facial expression did not change at all.
The hunchbacked man coughed again and said, “Come, and sit. It’s a bit messy here.” It really was messy, but not just a bit. Things were scattered all across the office; there was even a pool of liquid on the table. However, the air on the office was very fresh and pure. Zi Qing Meng and Nian Bing entered the room while the hunchbacked man tidied up a bit behind his desk, before his gaze fell on Nian Bing. “If you could make Little Meng bring you here personally, you must have some talent. So what can you do, lad?”
Nian Bing coughed once, maintaining his smile. “I learned cooking for a few days previously, and I wanted to entered your esteemed college to learn more.”
The faculty chairman turned to Zi Qing Meng, and Zi Qing Meng said coldly, “Don’t look at me. Have you seen someone who could learn how to use the Brocade Character Void Lattice in just a few days? I’ll leave him to you, and you can see for yourself.” After speaking, she seemed as if she didn’t want to spend even another moment in the room and turned to leave.
When he heard the four words ‘Brocade Character Void Lattice,’ the faculty chairman’s muddled yellow eyes suddenly lit up. “Brocade Character Void Lattice, you can use one of the Five Distinguished Knife Techniques?”
Nian Bing looked at the chairman’s prominent bones in his hands. He replied, “It could be considered to be, but my heat control is not up to par.” He wasn’t being modest. No matter if it were the Brocade Character Void Lattice or the Dance of the Gathering Rain Dragons, he was still far from its pinnacle. But right now he wasn’t at the stage where he would see results after practice. Just as Zha Ji had said, he needed comprehension.
“Was it Zha Ji who told you to find me?” The chairman returned to his seated position, but his sentence had made Nian Bing startled. The chairman faculty smiled and said, “Except for Old Zha, there would be no one who could teach someone who only looked to be twenty-years-old the Brocade Character Void Lattice. No need to be surprised. I really didn’t think that after Old Zha disappeared without a trace for twenty years, there would finally be news of him.”
“You know my master?” Nian Bing’s voice wasn’t calm. The indecent looking old man in front of him gave him a mysterious feeling.
The faculty chairman hehe’d. “Did your master never mention to you the Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu? That old fellow couldn’t have forgotten his old friend, right?”
When the four words Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu entered his ears, Nian Bing immediately recalled what Zha Ji had told him before. When he was talking about the chefs in his generation, there were five most outstanding chefs, called the Five Great Culinary Gods in the culinary world. There were separated into the Demon, Strong, Camel, Spirit, and Mysterious chefs. The Mysterious Chef was Ming Yuan’s and Ming Hui’s master. He was also called an immortal among the chefs. He specialized in delicate hand skills, as well as making wheat foods.
As for his master, Zha Ji, he was the first among the Five Great Chefs. The five of them had gathered three times and had ranked themselves. The third time was called the fiercest showdown in all of the history of the culinary world. Demon Chef who had supernaturally fine craft, barely obtained the final victory. The other four chefs’ abilities were only slightly different from one another. When Zha Ji had been commentating on the Camel Chef, his expression had been extremely strange. He said: Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu, that old immature fellow, is the most special one out of all of us. That guy’s culinary skills are not only brilliant, but also strange. You probably don’t believe it, but his specialties are inspired by the female body. Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu, Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu. He hadn’t thought that the the third in the Five Great Chef ranking Camel Chef was the chairman of the college’s culinary faculty.
Nian Bing hastened to bow to Zi Xiu and greeted him, “Senior Zi Xiu, so you were the outstanding and famous Camel Chef! This younger generation was truly rude.”
Zi Xiu was a bit impatient when he said, “It’s fine. I hate polite customs the most. Boy, you must’ve have learned culinary arts from Zha Ji for a long time! Where is he now? In these twenty years, there’s been no news of him. The cooking world has undergone many changes.”
Sorrow emanated from Nian Bing’s body. When he recalled his master’s teaching, he couldn’t help but sigh. “Senior Zi Xiu, my master has already passed away, right before I left. I followed Master’s teachings for eight years. Nian Bing cannot forget a single one of his teachings. Senior ZI Xiu, since you were my master’s old friend, could you tell me who was it that made a wager with my master, who made him suffer a crushing defeat and ended up snapping his hand tendons?”
Camel Chef Zi Xiu’s eyes shifted. “Old Man Zha Ji died? Okay, it’s good that he died, he died, so now there will be one less pressure on me. He died, he died, fuck, how come I haven’t died.” Although he was cursing, Nian Bing could clearly tell that his extremely steady hands with prominent bones were trembling slightly. He knew that for a top-level chef, this was almost impossible to happen. Tears glinted in Zi Xiu’s eyes, but they didn’t stay. He sat dumbly in his chair, like a sculpture.
“Senior Zi, are you okay. My master did pass away, but he left very peacefully. You don’t need to be sad.” He looked at Zi Xiu’s face. Nian Bing understood that he battled with Master for a lifetime, but there were still deep feelings of friendship between them.
“If you aren’t okay, then of course I wouldn’t be. Fuck, Zha Ji that old thing actually died this early. How much of his skills did you learn? If the Demon Chef didn’t pass down his skills, I will not be able to forgive him. Boy, you wanted to know who forced your master to cut his tendons? Okay, if you can beat me in a culinary competition, then I will tell you. If not, you will never know. I, Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu has spoken, and I will definitely not renege on the deal. I will first assign you to the fifth grade. If after a year you cannot match up with my skills, then you must leave.”
Nian Bing said respectfully, “Senior Zi, I don’t think that we’ll have to wait for long. I challenge you right now; I hope that your skills are as good as said. If you lose, then you will have to tell me who the challenger was.”
“Right now? Okay, boy, you are just as self-important as that Demon Chef. Can you do it? Did your master tell you what my specialty was?” The Camel Chef’s voice was full of confidence.
Nian Bing smiled. Although Zi Xiu insulted Zha Ji nonstop, he knew that the feelings between this Camel Chef before him and his master were extremely deep. “Senior Zi Xiu, please forgive me for not being polite. When my master told me about you, he said, “Lascivious Camel Zi Xiu, that old immature fellow, except for using the Dense Jade Screen and the Life Tearing Heavy Eagle Hand, anything else about him isn’t worth mentioning. Well, the creativity he gets from women is not bad. Fuck, that old camel is way uglier than I am but he somehow gets women to like him. What a cripple’s anus – unnatural.’” Nian Bing had learned Zha Ji’s tone, and very realistically, repeated it just like Zha Ji had said it. The Camel Chef Zi Xiu’s face alternated between green and red.
“Zha Ji, even in death you still trash talk me. You’re the cripple’s anus, to actually talk about me like this in front of a junior. Hmph, just wait for me to dig up your tomb.” When he heard Nian Bing’s words, the Camel Chef Zi Xiu immediately flew into a rage, cursing under Nian Bing’s nose and stamping his feet. However, he couldn’t control the tears as they ran down his angry face.
Nian Bing acted as if he hadn’t heard the Camel Chef’s curses. He lowered his head and said, “Master said that the last of the Five Distinguished Knife Techniques is the Dense Jade Screen, and only you can use it perfectly. He was incomparable to you. The Five Distinguished Knife Techniques actually aren’t ranked. As long as you can bring one to perfection, then you have reached the peak of the culinary realm. He also said that your Life Tearing Heavy Eagle Hand, number two in the Seven Great Forbidden Techniques, is the only one in all of the Seven Great Forbidden Techniques that can be used to turn food into art, and that he couldn’t compare. And in the subtle control of hand strength, you are the number one in the continent.”