Part 4: Osaka’s Auntie Spreads Takoyaki and Udon
Chapter 18: To Taste Miso
Thus, this Okonomiyaki like dish started to be sold in towns as well.
However, till the end, it remained as a ‘Takoyaki-ish’ dish instead of the real thing.
The reason for this was octopus. The towns were all land locked, even if they have streams, octopuses was not something that lived in fresh water. Moreover, fresh fish alone was already pretty expensive. In short, octopus related food product was pretty much non-existent.
Most of the customers opted for the more familiar fillings like ham and cheese. Thanks to the unique shape of the food, everyone ended up calling it ‘Ball-yaki’.
It actually became even more popular than Okonomiyaki thanks to its cute and unique shape. Nearby towns which had been a little hesitant about importing the Okonomiyaki were now practically climbing all over each other to open a one of [Haru-chan] chain in their respective towns just for this ‘Ball-yaki’.
In order to create the unique round shape typical of the ‘Ball-Yaki’, special metal plates with their half spherical indentations was crucial. This translates to a rise in job orders for the blacksmiths in Old Saxon Town.
Aside from Haruna’s own stores, there were others who were interested in buying the metal plates for their own use.
Most of the buyers were large merchants and chefs or aristocratic families who wanted to try out these uniquely shaped ‘Ball-yaki’ by themselves.
Thanks to its unique shape, the ‘Ball-yaki’ was accepted by the rich and aristocratic.
On the other hand, Haruna continued to tirelessly explain that the standard Takoyaki must have boiled and cut up pieces of ‘tako’ or octopus in it.
There was also a rumour going on in town, about how eating octopus would eventually gain Haruna-like powers. That octopus was the reason behind Haruna’s power. It was a strange and hilarious rumour, but it helped people to slowly accept the existence of octopus as food.
From here on, more reasonable facts from seaport towns and villages where fishing was done by almost everyone, it was eventually accepted that this thing was actually a delicacy, something that was considered delicious in certain areas.
Haruna made the executive decision to open Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki restaurants separately, she actually has stores in 25 different countries. (Possibly the main reason why ‘ball-yaki’ became popular with nobility since they did not have to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi.)
Moreover, copy cat shops (though to be honest, she had not actually patent the creation of either Okonomiyaki or Takoyaki) which had copied Haru-chan’s unique cooking technique numbered around 40 shops at the last count.
Considering the fact that it had been barely half a year since Haruna had came to this other world, this kind of sudden progress was actually quite shocking.
Surely the goddess which had sent her over here would be happy with this kind of food revolution towards better balance in terms of nutrition and diet?
On the other hand, as the spearhead of change, even someone like Haruna was tired out.
“It sure is tiring, wa…”
Haruna was currently flat on her back at the 13th floor dungeon branch of [Haru-chan].
Requests for branch shops were coming in from all over the country and she had had to travel to every individual towns to scout for shops, set up the equipments and personally oversaw the set of of each shops.
This was especially hard since there was no shinkansen (high speed railway) or air planes in this world and travel had to be done by walking, running or horseback riding.
As for specialised the cooking skills for Okonomiyaki or Takoyaki, new staffs would have to wither come over to Old Saxon town for cooking instructions, or senior staffs like Natalia would have to personally travel to the target town and personally teach them the cooking techniques.
Nevertheless, even when the shops were set up and the staffs trained, Haruna herself had to travel to each town in order to conduct quality control spot checks in order to maintain a certain level of standard. After all, Haruna was the only one who knew the true authentic method of cooking and taste. In fact, she just came back from inspecting the goods from a town that took two days just to get there.
“Actually, I put up pictures of the octopus on several shops, but I guess people still felt creepy when they look at the octopus, so in the end it’s better to put up pictures of the Ball-yaki I guess …”
“Moreover, just grilling it would almost guarantee to bring in customers. The sound, smell and sight of the Takoyaki would attract people over anyway. Anyone who sees it would definitely thinks its delicious, wa~”
However, this sort of things had to be explained in person.
Right now, more people knew Haruna as a successful merchant rather than an adventurer. She had been slowly refusing invitations to dinner and lunches due to her increasing workload every time she returned to the Old Saxon town.
It was natural even for her to grow tired after all this running about. As expected, she could only properly rest while at [Haru-chan].
“Yesterday I ran all day until my legs turned into cobras. Ah~ my legs are at their limit, I must rest today…”
One of the regulars pointed out, “Um, don’t you mean that your legs are all cramped up?”
“I’m telling you, they are cobras, wobbly not straight cobras…”
In Kansai, the slang ‘turned into cobras’ is often used by the people to mean leg cramps. It comes from the word [kobura] which is used for both ‘cobra’ and ‘calf’ in the Japanese language. As for the reason…well, it seems that Kansai people did not like snakes, and tends to match bad things with snakes…
“Haruna-chan, that’s a bit too much, isn’t it…”
“No, with 25 branches in several different towns to look after, I guess Haruna-sama is the biggest merchant in the region now?”
All the regular customers looked quite worried. A tired Haruna looked quite abnormal, to them, Haruna should always be cheerful and full of energy.
“I’m not actually sick, I just need to rest a bit and recover, wa…”
“Coming back here is kind of a relief, I guess.”
Natalia was currently cooking up Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki while other staff were in charge of selling other goods.
Additionally, cooked food were only served during day time, while other goods were sold 24 hours a day.
Staffing issue seemed to be a thing of the past. The more popular [Haru-chan] became, people who wished to become [Haru-chan’s] employee also increased. If one added up all the staff from all the different shops together, the number of people employed by Haruna was actually quite amazing.
“Maa, this is the first time I actually got this tired, ya na~”
Haruna drew a small box over and open the lid.
Inside was a brown coloured… thing. The moment she opened the box, a unique fragrance permeated the air.
Then, she stuck a finger into the brown thing and licked the stuff.
“Un, it’s sweet and tasty, wa~”
The eyes of the men around her immediately zeroed in on Haruna’s gesture.
“Ooh, Haruna is sucking her finger…”
“Ah, it seemed so erotic, na.”
Natalia who was watching all this muttered disinterestedly, “What a bunch of stupid men…”
Her interest actually lay in the thing that Haruna had just licked. “Um, by the way is that?”
She poked cautiously at the box.
“This brown thing. It looked kind of dirty, but I guess it’s actually fermented food, right?”
“Oho, right, right… this thing here is called miso, nen.”
Another unknown food has been introduced.
“It’s made by fermenting beans with all kinds of seasoning, ya na. Just tasting it is enough to recover my powers, nen. They say that when parents became tiresome or annoying, the best thing to do is lick some miso or dried plums and everything will be alright!”
“But… just how is this thing made anyway?”
“Rather than make, I guess you could say I increased the amount. I already have some in my bag when I came over, so I just add a small amount of it into some beans I cooked up.”
When she was brought over to this different world, aside from the Super Tama candy, she was also carrying a new tub of miso with her. Since there were very few candies from her own world, whenever she felt lonely, she would sometimes licked one of the candies before putting it away for safe keeping.
When she found out that there were no miso or soy sauce in this world, she already started plans to make miso from scratch.
“Beans and salt are things that you can buy just about anywhere. Then, there’s mould, mould is really important. I got mine from that packet of miso I brought with me.”
Once mould is obtained, you can increase the amount of miso by adding it to cooked beans and salt.
By the way, during the Warring States Period, the food that kept soldiers marching were rice, salt and miso.
Miso has high nutritional value and contained lots of enzymes that are good for health. Therefore, like a soldier going to battle, it’s natural for Haruna, who is going to battle as an adventurer to want miso to boost her energy.
“It takes time to mature, but it should be done by now. If I hadn’t ferment it properly, it won’t turn into miso.”
Translator’s Note: Fufufufu, you can actually make your own miso at home. From things like, beans, rice and even barley. Here’s a link to a page that sells miso kits.