“Since our honored guest who has traveled from afar has a request, as the hosts we will do our best to fulfill it! Little Shitou, find Fangping and grab that bucket. We are going to gather river snails ah!” Yu Xiaocao naturally treated this stunning beautiful man, whose every elegant motion spoke of royalty, with great importance.
Who knew what type of temperament the heir of Imperial Prince Jing had?! Although he always had a smile on his face, she felt deeply scared of him. There was a type of person in the world that could be called a smiling tiger. These people could cut off your head with a gentle smile on their face. Naturally, these people were much more scary than the young royal prince, who outwardly had a grouchy exterior. Although the young royal prince had a somewhat explosive temper and nasty tongue, he had never exploded at her. Even when she infuriated him to the point of him glaring at her, he never accused her of a crime. The young royal prince was probably someone who had a lot of bark but no bite right?
If she had seen Royal Prince Yang in the past, when he killed people without blinking, she wouldn’t be thinking this! The ‘cold faced death god’ wasn’t his nickname for no reason. Zhu Junyang was only able to tolerate the tyrannical antics of Yu Xiaocao alone!
When Zhu Junyang saw Yu Xiaocao fawning over the emperor like a slavish dog, he felt his temper rise as he sourly remarked, “Why is it that when he wants to eat some, you jump to make it, yet you don’t take my words to heart eh?!”
Yu Xiaocao righteously replied, “The heir of Prince Jing is my guest, so I naturally have to cater to his requests.”
“Am I not a guest then ah?” Zhu Junyang pointed at his nose as he asked discontentedly.
Yu Xiaocao curled her lip, “Are you still considered a guest? You come over every few days to bum food and drinks off of me. If I truly treated you as a guest, wouldn’t I be exhausted to death ah?! Alright, I’ll bring you along to gather river snails and allow you to experience this novelty. Do you want to come?”
“Don’t want to!” Zhu Junyang arrogantly turned his head away as he lifted his head up high and snorted, “You won’t make the food I want to eat and even make me do work. No manners!!”
Everyone in the Yu Family had long gotten used to these two bickering and picking at each other constantly. So, they all went about their business as usual. Zhu Junfan, on the other hand, regarded the two of them with growing interest. His younger cousin always had a stiff expression on his face and regarded his words like gold. In fact, he even faced him, the emperor, with that constipated look on his face. He never would have expected that the cold faced death god also had such a childish side as well. For the sake of a plate of savory and spicy river snails, he was actually willing to quarrel until he was flushed with anger. Tsk tsk tsk! This was truly eye opening!!
“Second Sister, Young Royal Prince, are you guys coming to gather river snails ah?!” Little Shitou had been watching the two of them quibble back and forth silently. He looked at the color of the sky and decided that if he didn’t stop them now, they wouldn’t have enough time to gather river snails for lunch.
Yu Xiaocao answered in assent and turned around so Zhu Junyang could only see the back of her head, “Doesn’t matter to me whether you come or not! You can just stay in the courtyard ah! My lord, do you have any interest in coming to gather river snails with us?”
Zhu Junfan had never had the opportunity to experience farming in both of his lives. It was a rare chance for him to leave the imperial palace, so he naturally wouldn’t bypass this hard to get opportunity.
Yu Xiaocao held a bucket as she took her two younger brothers along as well as the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ to go into the back courtyard. The back courtyard was also completely planted with vegetables. There was a small, stone-paved pathway in the garden that brought them to the back gate. After opening the gate and walking a few steps, they were at the shore of a lake.
This lake was quite large. Its waters were a tranquil aqua-green color. In the distance there was a flock of ducks cheerfully swimming around in the water and their occasional quacks could be heard. Qian Wu, who was at the lakeside watching over the ducks, swiftly scampered over when he saw Little Shitou and Liu Fangping.
When he saw the buckets in their hands, Qian Wu became even more happy and called out, “Little Shitou, are you here to catch some fish ah? Let me help too!”
Little Shitou waved the bucket in his hands and laughed, “Nope! Second Sister is bringing us to gather river snails. We’re going to stir fry them for lunch!”
Qian Wu smacked his lips in delight, “Xiaocao’s savory and spicy river snails are so good! I’m also good at gathering river snails, let me help you ah!”
The three little boys grouped up together and ran into the shallow waters of the lake together to gather river snails. Perhaps it was because of the drought, but the lake waters were quite low right now. The children rolled up their pant legs and stepped into the mud at the shore. They carefully put their hands in the water to find river snails.
“I found a big one!” Little Shitou’s shout of pure glee broke the silence as he thrust his hand into the air. He had managed to find a river snail that was the size of a pigeon egg.
“I also found one!!” Liu Fangping refused to be outdone and took the river snail he found and compared it to the one that Little Shitou found to see which one was larger. No matter who found a bigger one, neither would be unhappy. The sounds of their delighted laughter echoed around the lakeside.
Yu Xiaocao found a relatively gently sloping area by the lakeshore and spread a bunch of straw on the ground. She said to the 'heir of Prince Jing’, “My lord, you can sit down here and rest a bit. The lake has a lot of river snails and we have a lot of people. We’ll be able to gather enough for lunch in a jiffy!”
She rolled up her sleeves and walked towards the lake. She carefully inspected the water for any signs of river snails. After her parents passed away in her previous life, she spent a lot of time in the nearby waters looking for river snails to add to her younger brother’s and sister’s diets. She was quite experienced at this!
After seeing some hazy signs in the water, she accurately thrust her hands in the water and never came back empty handed. The bucket inside her hands very quickly filled up with a layer of river snails that differed in size.
Zhu Junyang, who had stealthily followed them from behind, had also been lured over by the gleeful shouts of the children. He felt an itch inside him and copied them by taking off his shoes to also search for river snails.
Yu Xiaocao couldn’t help but roast him a bit, “Weren’t you not interested in gathering river snails? Then why did you secretly come over and try?”
“This prince is happy and interested! Can you stop me?” Zhu Junyang’s arrogant demeanor was the exact same as the little golden kitten that followed Yu Xiaocao around. Yu Xiaocao curled her lip and stealthily laughed.
Gathering river snails wasn’t a task that required skill, so Zhu Junyang quickly got the hang of it. In fact, when he found a particularly large one, he had to go to Yu Xiaocao and brag a bit. However, Yu Xiaocao took out an even larger snail from her pail and proudly grinned at him.
When he saw how joyful the children were, Zhu Junfan also felt an itch. He took off his shoes and was about to step into the water when one of his personal bodyguards stopped him, “Imperial Majesty, please reconsider this!”
“Reconsider what! I’ve already considered everything! The water is so shallow, so who can get into trouble? Whoever tries to stop us again, we will have them thrown into the lake to feed the ducks!!” Zhu Junfan threw the fan in his hands at the bodyguard. Only after confirming that the bodyguard had caught his favorite fan did he finally step down in the water barefoot.
In the summer, the lake water had been warmed up under the sun, so his feet didn’t feel bone cold in it. Zhu Junfan copied the children’s actions and started to search for river snails in the water! ‘Oh, I feel one!’ Before he could be happy, he took it out of the water to look and discovered that it was a small rock. The smile congealed on his face and Zhu Junfan sulkily continued to search in the water.
His group of personal bodyguards all trembled as they bent over next to him. They were all afraid that he might slip and fall into the lake water…
Just as they were worrying, they heard a ‘plop’ sound and then saw water splashing everywhere. All of the children burst out into giggles. Zhu Junfan raised his head to look and also couldn’t hold back his laughter. His taciturn younger cousin, who was currently sitting in the water, had such a blank expression on his face. It was really too funny!
Perhaps he was laughing too hard, but Zhu Junfan suddenly felt his body losing control. He flailed his arms behind him but he couldn’t keep his balance as he watched himself heading closer towards the lake. His two bodyguards next to him swiftly grabbed onto his arms and pulled him back to shore.
After having that false alarm, when Zhu Junfan went back down to the water to gather river snails, his bodyguards did their best to dissuade him. Spittle flew as they persuaded him, and they finally managed to convince the emperor to stay put. All of the bodyguards were dripping with sweat afterwards. If the emperor had fallen into the water earlier, then they would definitely be punished later. Aish! Protecting the emperor truly wasn’t a job for humans!
Before an hour passed, Xiaocao and the two boys managed to fill up their buckets with snails. Xiaocao had also managed to catch a bunch of small fish when no one else was paying attention to her. She planned on frying them after coating them with a thin breading. The fried fish would be flaky and savory and their taste would definitely be astounding ah!
When they returned back to the residence, Yu Xiaocao poured all of the river snails into a large wooden basin and filled it with some clean water before adding some salt. She also secretly added a few drops of diluted mystic-stone water. By adding that, it would speed up the process of removing dirt from the snails.
Yu Xiaocao then went into the few rows of vegetables that hadn’t been sprayed with pesticide this morning and picked a couple from each type. After thinking a bit, she also retrieved a few locusts that had been frozen in the cellar. She wanted to prepare some dishes that the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ had probably never seen let alone eaten before.
At lunch, a giant bowl of bright red savory and spicy river snails was presented to the table. Because Qian Wu gave all of the snails he found to Little Shitou, Yu Xiaocao had her younger brother send a smaller bowl of the finished dish to the Qian Family. Since they sent some to the Qian Family, they naturally had to send a portion to Zhou Shanhu’s family, who they were closer to. After sending portions here and there, they were only left with this large bowl.
Zhu Junfan tasted one and immediately was transported back to his memories of eating river snails while drinking beer. The savory and spicy taste of the snails paired with a bottle of ice cold beer was truly a refreshing taste. Unfortunately, he was a shipbuilding major and didn’t know how to brew beer. Even if he wanted to drink beer he could only do so inside his dreams!
Lunch ended up being quite sumptuous. There was the dish that Zhu Junyang ordered, ‘pork stewed with vermicelli’. The pork was fatty without being greasy and the vermicelli was perfectly cooked and shimmered under the light. Just looking at it raised a person’s appetite. There was also a plate of fried fish. Yu Xiaocao had especially gathered fish about the size of a finger. After cleaning them, she then added seasonings and coated them in a thin layer of flour. She then placed them in a pot full of sizzling oil and fried them until they were golden. All of the bones in the fish had been cooked until they were soft. The fish was flaky and crispy and incredibly tasty.
There was also a plate full of pig ears seasoned with chili oil and a plate of pig head meat. This was because Madam Liu saw that there were some guests over and thought that they didn’t have any good dishes to welcome them. While the children were gathering river snails, she had gone down to the cold cellar, retrieved a pig’s head and braised it. Madam Liu’s current skill at braising pig head meat was on the same level as Yu Xiaocao and the meat she braised was just as delicious.
Furthermore, there were also plates of lettuce seasoned with oyster sauce, oyster sauce romaine lettuce, and Indian lettuce sauteed with garlic. All of it looked pleasing to the eye and smelled incredible. It was so tantalizing that the imperial bodyguards couldn’t take their eyes off of them.
The most special dish on the table was a plate of golden fried locusts. Although they looked quite scary, they were even more delicious than fried little fish and had a texture very similar to fried shrimp. At first, Zhu Junfan was a bit leery of trying them. He watched as the Yu Family’s children all stuffed their mouths full and chewed noisily on the crispy food. Even his younger cousin, Zhu Junyang, ate several in a row.
When Yu Xiaocao noticed that the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ had an expression that was both curious and hesitant, she quickly selected a locust that had roe in it. She placed it into Zhu Junfan’s bowl and smiled, “My lord, the roe of a locust is even more tasty than the roe of a crab. Go ahead and try this one. If you don’t like it, feel free to spit it out!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Poor emperor, no beer in this time period.