Chapter 32 - Foodie

Wow! There was a free meal to eat! Yu Xiaocao lowered her head to look at her younger brother, asked for Brother Han’s opinion, and then readily agreed. However, she didn’t openly display the method of how to cook the small fish and requested for everyone to leave the kitchen.

Third Young Master Zhou didn’t plan on taking advantage of Xiaocao, so he led her to an independent little kitchen. After that, he personally guarded the entrance to prevent others from peeping. He didn’t know about others, but Head Chef Wang had been eagerly trying to see if he could learn something with the excuse of helping Xiaocao.

In fact, the small white fish itself had a savory flavor, so even if she didn’t use a lot of seasonings to enhance the taste, it would still be delicious. There wasn’t any difficulty or secrets with preparing the fish. She just wanted to create a sense of mystery as an ‘expert’, since there might be opportunities for cooperation in the future.

Yu Xiaocao made the dish with the simplest flavors, which were salt, scallions, and ginger. In order to make the soup taste more delicious and refreshing, she specially ladled some water and told Little Glutinous Dumpling to soak in it, and then she poured the little divine stone’s ‘bathing water’ into the soup.

The thick broth was a milky-white color and the fish instantly melted within the mouth. It tasted delicious and refreshingly smooth… The youths at the table nearly got into a fight for the sake of getting another mouthful of the fish stew.

Even the gentle and elegant Yuan Yunxi became a ferocious little beast when he fought for the fish stew and fish meat. It was inevitable since he was influenced by his grandfather, who was an old foodie, and became a little foodie.

The culprit, Yu Xiaocao, was currently inside Zhenxiu Restaurant’s ‘VIP’ room. She was leading her younger brother to enjoy the most sumptuous lunch she had eaten since she transmigrated here. The three of them were served with six dishes and a soup, which included four meat dishes and two vegetable dishes. Head Chef Wang had cooked all the dishes himself and they were all his most skilled dishes, so they naturally tasted very good.

Even Zhao Han, who had seen more in life, ate until he was stuffed. Xiaocao and her younger brother were even more bloated. Xiaocao was frightened when she saw Little Shitou moaning as he touched his round tummy, so she quickly helped him rub his belly. It would be bad if he became sick from overeating.

[He’s fine! Just drink some of my bathing water. It can help digestion and prevent sickness…] When they were eating, the little divine stone had been hovering around the appetizing dishes with a glowing gaze. It almost dived right into the food, but it was a pity that the little divine stone was unable to touch them.

‘Humph! Once I, this Divine Stone, recover some more of my powers, I’ll be able to take a physical form. At that time, I’ll definitely eat to my heart’s content!’

Yu Xiaocao wanted to ignore it, but it was very difficult to do so. So, she quietly flicked its body and caused it to roll over. After being flicked, the little fellow bared it teeth and claws at Xiaocao.

Xiaocao replaced the cold tea within the pot with mystic-stone water. After she poured Zhao Han a cup, she fed some to Little Shitou and drank a few mouthfuls herself.

Yu Xiaocao certainly wouldn’t waste the remaining half of the ginseng chicken soup on the table, so she asked the waiter for a basin and packed the chicken soup. She smiled at her younger brother and said, “I was just worried that we didn’t bring anything good for our oldest brother to eat!”

After lunch, Yu Xiaocao exchanged a few words with the manager, asked for the direction to the carpentry shop named ‘Zhang Ji’, and then left with Zhao Han and her younger brother

On the street, there were the sounds of hawkers advertising their goods, customers bargaining, and greetings between acquaintances. When all the sounds were intertwined together, it became a song that depicted a lively town market.  

“Selling sweets! Candies for sale! Sweet maltose candy!” A candy vendor, who was carrying his goods with a pole, loudly shouted as he walked past the siblings. Little Shitou turned around to look at the maltose candy covered in white powder that the vendor was carrying. It was as if his eyes were stuck on the maltose candy and unable to move away.  

Children of poor families rarely had the chance to eat sweets. Last year, during the New Years, their father had caught a deer that was sold for a good price, so he bought one catty of maltose candy for the children. However, their grandmother, Madam Zhang, had cursed at their father for exactly two hours, saying that he was spoiling his children and wasting money. Moreover, she took away and hid the sweets, while claiming that they needed to save it for the guests.

In the end, the siblings finally got a few pieces of candies after their grandfather spoke up. Since their grandmother was unwilling to give any more no matter what anyone said, each person only received a piece of maltose candy that was about the size of a fingernail. Furthermore, no one knew what happened to the rest of the candies. However, Little Shitou could never forget that sweet taste and slightly sticky texture. It was chewy without being greasy.

Seeing the look on her younger brother’s face, Xiaocao felt somewhat sad inwardly. She stopped the candy peddler and took out some copper coins, “Please give us ten copper coins worth of maltose candy.”

Although the siblings’ clothes were worn-old, but they looked very clean. Thus, the hawker didn’t look down on the siblings and replied with a smile, “Okay!”

“No need, no need!” Little Shitou gulped his saliva as he shook his hands sensibly, “Second Sister, don’t waste money. I don’t like to eat sweets.”

Xiaocao’s heart ached as she caressed his head. She smiled and said, “I want to eat it, alright? Didn’t we earn some money today? It’s fine to use ten copper coins! Little shopkeeper, weigh it for us!”

The candy vendor was delighted when he heard her calling him ‘little shopkeeper’. He carried his goods on a pole and walked through the streets every day, but his greatest wish was to open a candy store and become a boss. As he cut the maltose, he slightly tilted his knife and cut off a little more of the sweets for them.  

Xiaocao asked the hawker to cut the maltose candy into the size of a thumb. She took a piece of candy in her hand, and then carefully wrapped the rest with an oiled paper. She deliberately shook the sweets in front of Little Shitou, sniffed it with her nose, and loudly exclaimed, “So sweet. It must be very tasty. It’s a pity that my younger brother doesn’t like to eat these sweets. I guess I have to eat them all myself!”

Little Shitou licked his lips as he watched his sister shaking the maltose candy. He had a pitiful expression on his face, as if he was a little puppy who wanted a bone. However, he resisted his desire and didn't ask his sister for the candies.

Xiaocao stopped teasing him and stuffed a maltose candy into his mouth. After that, she took her cute and obedient younger brother into her arms and said, “Little Shitou, in the future, I’ll buy candies for you every day. I’ll also get delicious snacks…”

“No! When we have money, we need to buy a cotton-made comforter first. The cottons within our parents’ comforter are already bursting out. Also, we need to buy clothes for you and eldest sister. Your clothes have become too small, so they’re no longer wearable. I’m fine with not eating candies!”

The little guy kept the maltose candy within his mouth and refused to chew on it. Thus, he only licked it with his tongue. The sweet taste slowly melted within his mouth and he blissfully narrowed his eyes like a satisfied little kitten.

“Alright, alright! After we divide from the family, I’ll buy a new set of clothing for everyone in the family and some more beddings. I’ll make white rice and wheat flour steamed buns for Little Shitou every day…” Xiaocao held her younger brother’s hand as they walked to the carpentry shop.

Little Shitou grinned even more happily, “Isn’t eating white rice and wheat flour every day too wasteful? It’s probably better to save them up and use them when we need them in the future…”

Zhao Han walked behind the siblings and quietly listened to their conversation. Was this the affection between siblings? He was an only child and rarely interacted with his peers in the village. As he observed the friendly relationship between the siblings, an unexplainable feeling surged into his heart.

This small town had three vertical and horizontal streets. The carpentry shop that Xiaocao’s eldest brother, Yu Hang, ‘worked’ at and Zhenxiu Restaurant were both located on the busiest street. As they spoke, the sister and brother pair could already see the sign for Zhang Ji’s Carpentry Shop.

In her previous, Xiaocao had dropped out of middle school before she graduated. After transmigrating here and faced with the complicated traditional Chinese characters, she was practically illiterate. She would only recognize some words by guessing.

The craftsmen at the carpentry shop were pretty skilled and the manager would often go to the capital for ‘training’. People from town and surrounding areas, who were slightly more well-off, liked to customize furniture and utensils at Zhang Ji’s Carpentry Shop. Thus, it was natural that their business was doing very well.

When the siblings entered the shop hand in hand, a worker had heard the movement and stood up with a smile. However, his expression instantly turned grim when he saw their clothes. With a long face, he hollered, “Leave, leave, leave! This isn’t a place for you paupers to come and play. Hurry up and scram!”

Yu Xiaocao furrowed her brows. Although she was very angry at this snob, she held back and asked, “Young brother, my eldest brother is an apprentice in this carpentry shop. His name is Yu Hang. May I trouble this young brother to pass on a message that his younger siblings have come to see him?”

“Yu Hang? Someone already came to visit him last month, why is his family coming to visit again? If your family doesn’t want him to work here, then he should just scram. To be freely coming in and out, where do you think this is?” The worker had an impatient expression and spoke with a voice full of disdain.

Xiaocao suppressed her anger and spoke with a gentle voice, “Young brother, it’s not easy for us to come all the way here, so please help us out.”

The worker threw the rag in his hand onto the table heavily, went to the backdoor of the shop, and shouted towards the yard, “Yu Hang! Yu Hang! Someone’s looking for you!”

The worker returned to the front of the shop without waiting for a response. He picked up the rag and shooed them away like flies, “Go outside to wait! Don’t hinder our business… Sir Fang, please come in! Your customized folding screen is ready. Please come in and take a look!”

With a manservant beside him, a graceful young man in fine clothes came out of a horse carriage in front of the carpentry shop. When the worker saw him, he hastily pasted on a flattering smile and politely guided him into the shop.

Yu Xiaocao shrugged her shoulders and smiled, ‘People are so realistic.’

That young man slightly glanced at the sister and brother pair. His gaze stopped briefly on her self-mocking smile. Fang Xun had seen the worker’s earlier behavior, so he thought that these siblings, who were obviously from a poor family, would feel wronged, sad, and avoidant…

He didn’t expect the older sister to just smile indifferently with a calm expression on her face. This type of attitude, which was neither haughty nor humble, seemed like an indication of her extraordinary future. However, Fang Xun’s footsteps didn’t stop for this matter. He had thought that they were just a passing guest in each other’s lives and never expected that he would meet her again in the near future…   

“Second Sister, Shitou, why are you guys here?” Yu Hang limped out of the shop with a face filled with heartfelt joy.

“Eldest Brother, what happened to your leg? Also, your face…” Little Shitou widened his doubtful eyes and asked with concern.  

Yu Xiaocao looked closely and saw two clearly visible red and swollen marks on Yu Hang’s delicate face. Moreover, he looked like he was in pain as he walked out earlier.

Yu Hang touched the bruises on his face and pretended to be fine, “It’s nothing. While I was working, I accidentally tripped over some wood and strained my foot. My face was scraped by the branches on the timber. Don’t make a fuss over such a minor injury. Second Sister, is your health better recently? Is everything alright at home? Do you guys have enough to eat?”

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Myst's Thoughts

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Translator: Myst