Chapter 82: The Preparations Before the CompetitionOriginal and most updated translations are on volare. If this is being found anywhere else, it has been stolen. Don't support theft. :)
“Oh, then Yuner will listen to Beautiful Big Sister.”
Yuner obediently nodded, then stared at the young girl’s delicate face and smiled foolishly.
“Beautiful Big Sister is so pretty. But earlier, there was a Big Brother that was as pretty as Big Sister!”
“A Big Brother even prettier than Big Sister? Does Yuner know who he is?”
The young girl helped him up as she quietly asked.
When the two lowered their heads and started quietly walking towards the door, a pair of embroidered red shoes appeared in their vision.
“Yuner, where are you heading off to?”
A low voice came from above the two’s heads. Yuner was startled so much he scuttled backwards to hide behind the young girl’s back and spoke with a trembling voice.
“Mo-mother, Y-Yuner isn’t going anywhere to play.”
The person that came had a strong imposing aura. Her outfit was poised and luxurious, her facial features beautiful and dignified and on her face was a faint smile.
“Ah, I heard you got into trouble again? You’re really such a little troublemaker, always causing Mother to fret.”
The woman that was speaking was precisely the matron of the Bai household and Bai Lianhua’s aunt, Bai Yu.
Bai Yu cast a mild glance at the two timid people as she walked into the courtyard leading a line of servants.
Yuner tightly clutched the young girl’s arm without letting go. He kept his head lowered the entire time, not daring to even glance towards Bai Yu.
The young girl gently patted Yuner’s hand and gave him a slight smile.
It was very hard to imagine that the beautiful and intelligent Bai Yu was actually this foolish Yuner’s mother.
Yuner saw the warm smile on Bai Yu’s face but he felt extremely afraid and couldn’t stop himself from hiding behind the young girl.
“Lady San Yu, wonder how confident you are regarding this competition? The opponent is the number one cook of Heng Xuan Chamber of Commerce and her culinary arts skills isn’t something that ordinary kitchen maids would be able to compete with.” Bai Yu glanced at that girl. Her tone was quite courteous, but also filled with doubt.
The young girl that was addressed as San Yu lowered her hands and straightened her back as she replied, “Matron has no need to worry. San Yu will definitely win this time!”
“Meng Yu, it’s probably not a good idea for me to head over like this, right?” Right after they left that courtyard, Tang Doudou started tugging at her clothes. She saw that kitchen maids and servant girls were walking around everywhere while she was the only one in a man’s outfit. It was exceptionally eye-catching, and she couldn’t help but scratch her head awkwardly.
When Meng Yu saw this scene, she went ‘ah’, and pulled Tang Doudou to the side before looking her up and down. “Aiy this memory of mine. How could I have forgotten such an important matter!?”
“Then what do we do now?” Tang Doudou asked with a helpless tone.
Meng Yu looked towards her own clothes, then at Tang Doudou’s delicate and pretty face. She laughed ‘hehe’ and said, “There is a way, but I’ll have to ask Alliance Head da ren to endure a little.”
One hour later, in the servant quarters of Bai Residence, Meng Yu anxiously paced back and forth outside a door. From time to time, she would shoot an impatient glance towards the room.
“Why is he still in there? Could it be that he doesn’t know how to wear it?”
“If we keep delaying, we’ll run out of time!”
Meng Yu muttered continuously. If she knew earlier that this was going to happen, she wouldn’t have come up with this rotten idea. Meng Yu scratched her head and was debating over whether she should head in to help or not when the door opened.
Upon seeing the person that came out, Meng Yu immediately froze on the spot. Her jaw dropped and only after a while was she able to stammer disbelievingly, “A-a-alliance Head Li… i-is that you?”
“It’s me ah. Aren’t I stunning? Hm?” Tang Doudou folded her hands behind her back and laughed cheerfully as she walked out. Her dimples were like flowers, causing Meng Yu to go into a daze as she looked.
Meng Yu sighed with all her heart. Alliance Head Li’s female disguise is truly way too beautiful.
It was just an ordinary servant’s short-sleeved garment, yet when Tang Doudou wore it, it gave off a fresh and lively feeling. The casually tied up ponytail in combination with the faint yellow dress was particularly charming. With those crafty, big, black eyes and face that was like a china doll’s, it truly caused people to be incapable of tearing their eyes away.
“Stunning, stunning!” Meng Yu snapped back to her senses and walked up to pull Tang Doudou. “I was just thinking earlier that Alliance Head Li would definitely look good in female clothing. I never thought it would actually be to this extent!”
Tang Doudou smiled, delighted. She was really happy from the bottom of her heart that she was finally able to wear female clothing.
She was finally able to let her little white bunnies out! This feeling was practically even more refreshing than eating ten bags of spicy strips!
“But, what’s this?” Meng Yu pointed at Tang Doudou’s chest as she asked.
“Oh, hehe, if you’re going to put on a disguise then of course you have to put on the full set. I stuffed some clothing in there, haha!” Tang Doudou laughed, then changed the topic. “That’s right, since I’ve already put on a female disguise, you can’t keep calling me Alliance Head Li this and Alliance Head Li that. If someone hears, that’d be bad.”
Meng Yu found it reasonable as well. “Then what do I call you?”
“Tang Doudou!” Tang Doudou’s expression was pretty happy. Now, she has finally completely become herself!
“Tang Doudou? Tang Doudou…” Meng Yu repeated this name for a while. Her eyes then lit up. “This name is not bad ah! It really fits Alli… Doudou, your current appearance!”
She almost called the wrong name. But after she called this name a couple more times, she felt that this name was coming out of her lips much more smoothly. She couldn’t help but also giggle foolishly as she stared at Tang Doudou’s face, feeling as if she could never get enough of it.
How could Tang Doudou stand Meng Yu looking at her like this? Tang Doudou pulled Meng Yu’s hand and said, “It’s been a while and we still need to prepare the things for the competition!”
When the competition was brought up, Meng Yu immediately returned to her senses and slapped her head. “Aiy, look at this memory of mine. I almost ended up forgetting the main matter. Let’s go, let’s go. If we end up late we’ll be doomed.”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry. We’ll make it in time!”
When the two arrived at the competition area chatting and laughing, all the kitchen helpers of Plum Garden that were waiting there rushed up anxiously to them as if something was on fire.
“Aiyo, Meng Yu, my great auntie ah! Where did you run off to!? We were searching everywhere for you but couldn’t find you. The competition’s almost about to start!”
Meng Yu waved her large hand. “What are you guys getting into a fluster about? Have you guys prepared all the materials?”
“They’re all prepared, aren’t we here waiting for you to check them?” The kitchen maid in charge of preparing the ingredients looked around, then sneakily whispered to Meng Yu, “Earlier, I went to take a look at the Bai Residence’s kitchen. This time it’s bad ah. I couldn’t understand anything that they prepared. And that kitchen maid named San Yu, they say she’s the one that drew the lead strip* for this year’s cooking competition!”
“pulling the leading strip” means to have obtained the qualifications to appear onstage for the competition first.
The strip is a bamboo stick with words written on it. Pulling strips was an old style of gambling and getting an inscribed strip signified a sure win. A strip without words varied in meaning. ‘The short strip’ is often the worst to pull.
“Shoo, shoo! Stop extinguishing your own impressiveness with other people’s ambitions. Even if she’s impressive, I, Meng Yu, am also not a herbivore. It’s just this year’s leading strip, what’s there to be afraid of? Don’t forget that we’re members of the Heng Xuan Chamber of Commerce!” Meng Yu had long heard of who her opponent was. If she didn’t feel any pressure, she wouldn’t have gone to find Tang Doudou. It’s just that at this time, there was no way she could let her imposing manner fall behind, right!?
Morale is also abnormally important in competitions!
Meng Yu understood this very well. She then turned towards Tang Doudou who was behind her and asked, “Doudou, have you looked at the menu I prepared earlier?”
Only then did everyone notice Tang Doudou who was behind Meng Yu. They looked at her clever and delicate face and couldn’t recall having seen her in Plum Garden before. Thus, they couldn’t help but start making conjectures. The kitchen maid that had pulled Meng Yu earlier now whispered, “My dear great auntie ah, this couldn’t be the helper you were talking about, right? Her fingers are all soft and white, what part of her looks like she’s a skilled chef who often cooks?”
“Hehe, Qiu Ling, aren’t you underestimating people? I’ll have you know that Tang Doudou’s culinary arts skill is no worse than mine!” And she had been wondering what Qiu Ling was doing acting so secretively. Meng Yu didn’t expect it had turned out to be such a small matter, so she just replied casually.
Upon hearing this, Qiu Ling looked again at Tang Doudou who seemed like a carefree and helpless little miss. No matter what, she couldn’t stop worrying. However, since Meng Yu had already put things like this and since Meng Yu was also the main chef this time, she naturally couldn’t say anything more. However, she felt a bit discontent.
If it was the Tang Doudou from before, she wouldn’t have been able to hear what they were saying, but now she could hear them clearly. It was most likely due to the fact that she now had inner strength.
This counts as Li Xueyi having given her a benefit ah!
As Tang Doudou thought this, she rubbed her chin. Then, recalling the menu that Meng Yu had shown her before, she said, “I saw it before. But I feel like ah, though the dishes are complicated and hard to make, it’s not colorful and original enough.”
Seeing that Tang Doudou had brought up the points in which the dishes were lacking, Meng Yu immediately perked up and moved over to ask, “Then, Doudou, what do you suggest?”
Tang Doudou smiled mysteriously. “We’ll still use this dish, but for the things, we’ll switch it up a little!”
“Switching things last moment? You sure imagine the wildest things! The competition doesn’t allow for it since the menu and ingredients list has already been sent up to the judging panel! What difference is there between switching something and taking the initiative to admit defeat? I say, could it be that this is what you’re planning?” Qiu Ling couldn’t bring herself to like Tang Doudou. Now that Tang Doudou said she wanted to switch something, Qiu Ling immediately erupted and started criticizing her.
It was normal for Qiu Ling to be this doubtful as they didn’t know each other and she didn’t know about her capability. That was why Tang Doudou take offense at the dislike in her voice and explained, “Don’t worry, I only want to switch out a few little things inside. They won’t be able to tell!”
Her voice was filled with confidence so Meng Yu was pleased. Pulling Tang Doudou’s hand, Meng Yu led her into their temporary kitchen shed.
Qiu Ling followed behind the two, completely displeased as she muttered, “When problems end up occurring, what are we supposed to tell Master…”
When Tang Doudou heard this, she was bewildered. When did she end up angering this woman?
Why did it feel like she was always targeting her?
Meng Yu didn’t have martial arts so she didn’t hear Qiu Ling’s muttering at all. She was currently wondering curiously about what things Tang Doudou could switch out that wouldn’t be discovered. However, she thought for a long time and still couldn’t figure it out, so she opened her mouth to ask Tang Doudou.
Right after she opened her mouth, Tang Doudou made a ‘shh’ motion towards her. She shot a conniving glance towards Qiu Ling who was behind them and said with a smile, “The mysteries of heaven must not be revealed. You’ll know soon!”
Since Tang Doudou wasn’t willing to tell, Meng Yu could only suppress the curiosity in her heart as they walked towards the kitchen shed. Meng Yu looked at the aids that had all finished preparing, then carefully examined the ingredients and seasonings multiple times. Finally nodding, she ordered, “Carry these things to the competition stage first. Doudou and I will head over right after we change!”
Those aids nodded, then methodically started working.
Tang Doudou also looked at those ingredients and seasonings and saw that the preparations were of good quality. After seeing this and those mysterious kitchen tools Meng Yu had, Tang Doudou felt even more confident for this competition.
However, beyond this heaven are other heavens, there are other geniuses besides this genius, so one must not be careless.
“Meng Yu, do you know how big the gap is between the opponent’s cooking skill and yours?”
Meng Yu glanced at Qiu Ling who was commanding the servants not far away and said in a small voice, “Ahem, she’s probably a little better than me…”
And you were still speaking so confidently earlier!?
Seeing Meng Yu’s embarrassed expression, Tang Doudou could only keep this exclamation inside her heart.
Credits: Translated by Chiyomira, Edited by LazyMiyu
In regards to pulling strips, there’s a common way to cheat shown in manga. If you do it with paper strips that are colored on the bottom and say that the person that gets the completely white strip doesn’t have to do anything/gets a benefit/or is the loser, the person holding the strips can rig stuff by just closing his fist more tightly when the person that he wants to get the white strip pulls. That way, the bottom of the strip will be ripped off and it’ll look completely white.
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