Chapter 42: Grievances
NovelAddictxD: Well… let’s all cheer Su Nuan Nuan as she resist this dubious male character’s charms
Kirindas: Hahaha, that’s the main reason I read ahead
Bookworm: Love your name, and yes, they are funny together
Moto: I know right? Clear plain porridge made from expensive rice and pickles, what’s not to love?
F_J: Ohh, yes, watery congee. Though my mother prefers congee so thick that the spoon will stay upright when you stick it in the middle of the pot.
“But, you know that I must have meat.” Duan Tingxuan continued to howl like a distressed wolf. By then, Hong Lian and Xiang Yun had appeared. They quickly ventured over to greet him, Hong Lian smiled, “Master has come! We thought that after elder madam’s visit, Master would not be able to come any more.”
“How could I?” In front of these two maids, Duan Tingxuan felt that he had to maintain some manly dignity. He waved his fan lazily, but a tinge of desperate hunger still glowed in his wolfish eye, clearly hinting for some reports on the food conditions in the kitchen.
Hong Lian was smart, making sure to not glance at him, she respectfully faced Su Nuan Nuan, and said. “Missy, the Eight Treasure Rice is done, as for the Fried Tripe, this maid’s hand is too incompetent and did not know how to mix the dipping sauce properly. This maid begs your pardon, but could Missy handle this part personally? Also, this maid has noticed that the White Sealed Meat is now properly cooled down, would Missy like to have it tonight?”
“What?” Duan Tingxuan jumped up suddenly, he gave Su Nuan Nuan a nasty smile. “Very good, ah. Telling lies about pickles and porridges, so it’s Eight Treasure Rice. And what’s this Fried Tripe? And White Sealed Meat? And just what are those things? Also, dipping sauce? Why the dipping sauce? These are all things I’ve never eaten before. You have been keeping a lot from me, as expected, if I haven’t been away for two days, making you think that I have been locked away, it’s almost certain that I would never be able to eat any of these. Nuan Nuan that’s too much even for you…”
Duan Tingxuan’s spittle continue to fly. Though his face has ‘Grief and Indignation’ written all over it, Su Nuan Nuan continued to block her ears against his grievances. She glared at Hong Lian with gritted teeth. “You did this deliberately, you bunch of brats definitely did this deliberately, didn’t you?”
Hong Lian showed a surprised expression, “What deliberately? Didn’t Missy said to inform you when we have finished with the meal preparations?”
“You…fine, I did my best to defend against outside enemies only to be back stabbed by my own people.” Su Nuan Nuan’s face was even blacker than the little marquis’, who had not stop muttering to himself about the unfairness of the world. She twisted back to shout. “Shut up, otherwise don’t even bother with the Eight Treasure Rice or Fried Tripe, I won’t even let you see a single grain of rice.”
“As long as you feed me.” Duan Tingxuan firmly ignored an angry Su Nuan Nuan. He swallowed and hungrily followed her to the kitchen.
One rice and two side dishes, in the end Su Nuan Nuan even made a Vinegar Bamboo Stir Fry and added a duck bones soup for their evening meal. Though the dishes were simple, to the point of being shabby, making it looked as though his status had suffered a critical blow.
Whenever Duan Tingxuan ate within the inner court, there were usually no less than seven to eight dishes on the table. How could these dishes match up to a little marquis’ status? Even when it came to the staple food, there were usually freshly steamed flower rolls or plain steamed buns in addition to rice. Nothing like in Mei Yue Lou, with only these few dishes in front of him, it was just too sad.
Nevertheless, this modest spread made was still effective enough to cause the little marquis’ eyes to brim with tears of happiness.
When Su Nuan Nuan sat down opposite him, he felt like a child whose candy had been nearly, but not quite, snatched away by an adult. In a whispery voice, he said, “This is too wonderful, two extra dishes, and even a duck soup. I’ve been to your place so many times, this is the first time you’ve laid out such a spread. As expected, you’ve been mistreating me all this while. When you knew I am coming over, you only cook a small amount of food, I always get kicked out from this place without even eating my fill…”
Su Nuan Nuan felt goosebumps rising all over her body. She narrowed her eyes and gritted her teeth as she snatched a piece of White Sealed Meat with her chopsticks and dumped it onto Duan Tingxuan’s bowl. “You’re a fancy little marquis who dares to wear thin silk even the strong east wind. Do you actually like to suffer at my place? Eat quickly, I hate it when even food won’t stop up a person’s mouth.”
This was actually the first time Su Nuan Nuan personally put food into his bowl. Wait, no, he should say this was the first time Su Nuan Nuan personally put food in his bowl in Mei Yue Lou.
Duan Tingxuan’s heart brimmed with happiness and gratitude. As far as he could remember, this kind of pure happiness was not many. He quickly snatched up the meat and put it into his mouth. Chewing thoughtfully, he said in surprise, “This is not any old chilled pork. Mm, Hong Lian called this White Sealed Meat, just how is it made?”
“You just think about eating. Always asking about how things are made. So what if you know the recipe, do you think you can make them?” Su Nuan Nuan said crossedly. This Duan Tingxuan have a bad habit of asking about things he ate, even though he had no intention of making them. Therefore, even though he acted like a curious baby, Su Nuan Nuan found this habit uncute.
“Tomorrow will be the 12th, in a few days it will be time to collect rent. Some of it will come from the coastal area so there will be fresh seafood. Why don’t you have a look and see what you like? Take anything you like back.” Duan Tingxuan obligingly stopped asking, and tactfully switched the subject into something that would piqued Su Nuan Nuan’s gourmet interest.
“Seafood?” Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes brightened. She had transmigrated to this place for a few months, and had yet to see any seafood, though the river fishes and pond creatures were a plenty. However, she was still suspicious, “Since the weather is so hot, won’t the seafood become stinky once they reach here?”
Duan Tingxuan gave her a meaningful look, then laughed lightly, “The seafood is transported with a special wooden carriage, lined with quilt and half filled with ice. The fish and shrimps are kept in large jars filled with seawater half buried in ice. Not only will they reach the court intact, most will actually make it alive.”
“I see.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded, feeling a little bewildered. This is a common technique, why are you looking at me with those eyes?
She soon knew the answer.
Duan Tingxuan picked up a piece of tripe with his chopsticks, dipped it into a sauce made out of sesame oil, sesame paste, chives, some sichuan peppers, mushroom sauce and other seasoning before delivering the delicious morsel into his mouth. He nodded as he smacked his lips, then shook his head as he meditated over its taste. “Tender yet crunchy, delicious, the flavour lingers in one’s mouth just so. This is a very good dish to have with wine.”
He suddenly changed the subject. With a little he-he laugh, he said. “Nuan Nuan, you’ve always loved seafood the best. Every year when it’s time for to collect the tribute, you’ll always personally oversee the process. In fact, this method seafood transportation was thought up by you. At that time, both the elder lord and elder madam were quite angry, said that your behaviour was just too extravagant. Well? Have you forgotten this?”
This bastard, so this was the trap he had set up. Su Nuan Nuan scolded herself privately in her heart, she realised now why Duan Tingxuan had been looking at her with those weird eyes. For Su Meng Nuan to completely forget about a special seafood transport method she had thought up was certainly suspicious.
Though it was suspicious, there was nothing Su Nuan Nuan could do about it. Though she had received most of Su Meng Nuan’s memories, she had not bothered to go through it with a fine tooth comb. While she has a good idea of what the people within the palace looked like and their general characteristics, for information that were not immediately vital to her identity, who has the time to go through it all? Now that Duan Tingxuan mentioned this matter, she had a vague impression that something like this really did happened.
Surely this rascal hadn’t realised her true identity as a transmigrator, ba?
A sense of unease crept into Su Nuan Nuan’s heart, but after thinking it through, unlike Hong Lian and Xiang Yun who were basically her shadows and encountered plenty of inconsistencies, this behaviour could still be considered as a mild outlier. Let’s just keep using the near death encounter as an excuse to cover up. In short, this first madam did not dare to come up with an overly complicated story, as Zheng Banqiao had said, best to avoid a complicated story in case one gets tangled up in one’s lies. In this kind of situation, if a transmigrator tried to spend their lives understanding too much, they would ended up not living at all.
Therefore, Su Nuan Nuan raised her head and confidently declared. “Oh yes, now that you mentioned it, I remember now. Ever since my brain suffered a shock, I’ve forgotten quite a lot of things.”
Duan Tingxuan smiled slightly, and did not say much. He also had no intention of investigating this matter too deeply. Thus, both husband and wife refrained from saying too much, and continued to focus their attention on the food. This Duan Tingxuan seemed really hungry, he wolfed down three whole bowls of Eight Treasure Rice before patting his stomach in satisfaction.
“The old madam and I have spoken quite a few times, she really wants to you come over for a chat. She liked all the snacks you’ve sent over, especially that White Sugar Cake. Now that she has eaten your White Sugar Cake, the kitchens are forbidden from making white sugar cakes. According to old madam, those did not even deserved to be called white sugar cakes at all. Just look at the disaster you’ve caused with just one tray of White Sugar Cakes, the snacks we’ve been eating all this while in this palace have even lost its name as well as it standing, how unjust, ah.”
“You should be saying these words to the old madam, how could I have anything to do with this disaster? I’m not the one who named those snacks ‘White Sugar Cakes’.”
Duan Tingxuan smiled, “Your schemes are entirely transparent to me, wanting me to speak to the old madam about this, do you really think I’m that stupid to invite a beating? You listen to me, find some time to visit the old madam, take some of these White Sealed Meat. It’s an excellent summer dish, cool and refreshing. The old madam also loves meat, though her body could not take too much oily or fatty food due to her age, this White Sealed Meat is just perfect. Its transparent luster is just too inviting, the fat tender and not at all greasy, the lean meat not at all coarse. The fragrance of alcohol and seasoning thick enough to leave a pleasant after taste. old madam is sure to like it.”
Su Nuan Nuan couldn’t resist laughing. “You certainly have a gourmet mouth on you. Each word that poured out is a praise, moreover it’s all worded differently. You should take up a career as a food critique and write about all kinds of gourmet food. I’m sure that even large restaurants will invite you to dine for free in order to be featured in your writings.”
Duan Tingxuan’s mouth twisted. “In this Capital, I’ve visited if not all, then at least 80% of the famous restaurants. There’s nothing much to differentiate them. Especially when compared to your radical style of cooking. Though you call me a glutton, not every kind of cooking is pleasing to me.” As he spoke, he picked up another piece of tripe, after swallowing it he called out. “Hong Lian, bring out that Red Daughter wine, I want to drink it today.”
Hong Lian bobbed in answer and soon came back with a small earthenware jug. Duan Tingxuan broke opened the seal and poured out half a bowl of wine. He looked at Su Nuan Nuan. “Want some? This is a 30 year old Red Daughter, it’s made by the previous generation’s official who gave it to the emperor as filial consideration. The emperor awarded two jugs of it to me since I managed to complete my duty beautifully. Thanks to your fried tripe, I am willing to drink it today, not just any side dishes could match up with this kind of wine.”
Su Nuan Nuan shook her head, she had no interest in wheat based wine. However, Duan Tingxuan’s words had just reminded her that in these few days there should be all kinds of fruits available soon. She planned to make some fruit wine from them.
Duan Tingxuan alternately drank a mouthful of wine and ate a piece of tripe, eyes closed as he bobbed his head in pleasure. When the last bit of tripe was swallowed into his stomach, he finally allowed Hong Lian to take away the half empty jug of wine. He suddenly looked squarely at Su Nuan Nuan. “There are news from your parents.”
Su Nuan Nuan was startled, it took her a while to react. In fact, she was not sure what to feel. Strictly speaking, this old couple had nothing to do with the modern her, however, they were still the parents of this body she now occupy. In short, without them, there will be no Su Meng Nuan. Without them, it would be impossible for Su Nuan Nuan to transmigrate into this current body. Therefore, it was impossible for her not to act nonchalant against them.
Enjoy some foodporn!
 Eight treasure rice
 Simmered Tripe
 White Sealed Meat
 Vinegar Bamboo Stir Fry
 Duck Bones Soup
 Steamed Flower Rolls
 Plain Steamed Buns
 Zheng Banqiao- Also known as Zheng Xie, was a Chinese painter from Jiangsu (1693-1765)
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Translated by Gumihou at kitchennovel dot com
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