The Feast – 246 –

The Feast – 246 –

Chapter 246:

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Vinisha

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

“Tingxuan!”

This was no small shock, Su Nuan Nuan was nearly frightened to death by this unexpected scare. She quickly supported her husband and helped him lie down on the floor. She had never seen this scum male as weak as this before. Duan Tingxuan gave her an exhausted smile, one hand raising to touch the tears rolling down her cheek. “It’s fine, I’ve just overused my nei gong [1] and suffering from some backlash. I’ll be fine once I meditate for a while.”

“So… so you’re not injured? You… you let me have a look, ah.” Su Nuan Nuan’s tears fell even more fiercely. This scene was all too familiar to her, ah. In most television dramas, whenever the MC and FC were about to part with each other forever, they would set off this corny ‘Spit up blood’ scene! So how could she not be frightened, ah?

How could Duan Tingxuan have known that Su Nuan Nuan’s brain had been ruined by all those rotten, dog-blood TV dramas and was now being tormented by all those dramatic and bloody good-bye scenes? He could only gasp, half laughing and half wincing in pain as he said, “What’s there to see? Were you not watching when I killed those sharks earlier? When did I suffer any injury? It just takes a lot of effort to kill those beasts in one stroke. They are not made of tofu after all, and it took a lot of strength to pierce through their tough skins into their heads.”

While speaking, the little marquis was already regulating his breath and soon, the colour was returning to his cheeks. Then, he slowly pushed himself into a sitting position. He didn’t sit in any fancy lotus position or made any mysterious hand gestures. He merely sat upright, placed his hands on his knees, closed his eyes and began breathing in an even rhythm. He coughed up blood twice more, but it was nothing as drastic as the sudden spray of blood earlier. Most likely, his body was already on its way to recovery.

Seeing how deeply her husband was breathing, and how the veins on his arms throbbed with lifeblood, Su Nuan Nuan sighed with relief. Finally convinced that those terrible cliché scenes were not going to happen to them, relief made her weak-kneed. Not only were her legs weakened, but they were also so numb that despite numerous effort, she could not stand up. Finally, she decided to give up on the matter and plopped down onto the floor.

Less than an hour of quiet later, a thunderous cheer surprised Su Nuan Nuan out of her reverie. Her gossip radar alerted, she quickly stood up and said to Duan Tingxuan, “I’m going to see what’s happening.”

The little marquis nodded, and with that Su Nuan Nuan came out of the cabin. She was immediately greeted by the sight of the people surrounding a large strange fish on the deck. One of the little rascals had actually climbed onto the fish, his emaciated face grinning ghoulishly as he said to Zhang Tianming, “Sir, there are no more sharks, but we spotted this fellow. He’s not quite as big as a shark, but since this guy didn’t put up much of a fight when we hooked him in, I think he’s injured somehow, which was why we managed to catch him. We should be able to eat quite well for a while when we get back to Jinzhou with so many fish, right?”

Though Zhang Tianming was pleased with their catch, he nevertheless harrumphed at this naïve remark. “Don’t be too happy yet. Though these fishes looked big, they would only last us two or three days at most. Moreover, we might not even be able to eat our fill.” He then looked up at the sky and sighed, “That’s right, no matter how much more fish and shrimp we managed to collect, just how many people could we feed? It still won’t be enough, ah.”

This was true, ancient fishing technology was not as fancy as modern fishing techniques. They don’t have drag nets or electricity to stun the fish and shrimps for easy catching. Otherwise, people who suffered from flood catastrophe would just sit around and fish for food instead of moving to an entirely different region.

His Excellency Zhang sighed emotionally. Suddenly, it struck him that the little marquis and heir’s wife had disappeared into the cabin for quite a while now. Perhaps he should go and see what was wrong? He turned to make for the cabin when he saw the heir’s wife standing on the deck, her eyes fixed onto the fish. He could see her lips twitching and… there was something rather sinister about her eyes… Taken aback, he quickly hastened forward and saluted her, “Is something wrong, madam? Is… is there something wrong with this fish?”

The fish in question was a large sturgeon [2], it was a rare prehistoric fish tethering on the edge of extinction in modern times. Though it was not quite that endangered now, it was still considered a rare and valuable fish. In fact, the main ingredient for the Poached Fish in Chilli Oil at the cooking competition against Fu Sheng Xiang back at Lin Qing was the sturgeon. The sturgeon was normally a river fish, but for some reason, this fellow had escaped into the sea and was now caught by these villagers.

However, the thing that had caught Su Nuan Nuan’s eye was not this funny looking fish with its oddly shaped head and body, but the dark green water plant close to two palms wide stuck onto the sturgeon’s back. She was so overwhelmed that she forgot to breathe.

That thing… Is that thing… kelp? My god in heavens, why am I so stupid? No wonder I had the feeling that I was missing something. It’s seaweed! I’ve completely forgotten about this kelp seaweed. Su Nuan Nuan, have you forgotten all about those kelp dishes you’ve eaten in your life? Are you actually worthy of the effort the God of Transmigration made to put your soul into this world? It’s kelp, that kelp, ah. Tasty and healthy, and more importantly one could eat their fill in kelp, ah. What is fish and shrimps before the might of kelp, ah? Kelp grows like grass here [3], more importantly, it won’t run or swim away like fish and shrimps, ahahahahahhhhhh!!!

As Su Nuan Nuan’s heart roared and rampaged wildly, tears reflexively poured out of her eyes. In an attempt to control her feeling, her face twisted into hideous contortions… Zhang Tianming was nearly frightened out of his wits by her scary face. He really wanted to pat her a bit, or even poke her on the arm to get her out of whatever funk she had fallen into, but he dared not ah! Anyone who had read the book of manners and etiquettes would know that men and women must not touch each other casually. Moreover, this is the heir’s wife, ah. You want him to die?

Luckily, his attempts to call the madam soon reached Duan Tingxuan’s ear and the little marquis rushed out of the cabin, no longer able to concentrate on regulating his breathing anymore. With a bang, the door crashed open and he leapt over to Su Nuan Nuan’s side and crying out, “What’s wrong, Nuan Nuan?” He called her name a few times, each time more frantic than before when Su Nuan Nuan did not answer him.

“Lord Heir, the madam… this humble official had no idea what happened. She was like that when I turned around to look. I believe she’s staring at this big fish… but, but this is just an ordinary sturgeon, ah. Surely it shouldn’t horrify the madam to this point?”

Horrify? Which one of your broken eye saw that I was horrified? Do you think that I, this first madam is horrified? This first madam is enjoying the feeling of getting a nice surprise, you know? Really, what is wrong with your eyes? You should invest in a pair of spectacles.

Su Nuan Nuan turned her glare towards Zhang Tianming, she was actually doing her best not to shout and swear like a happy loon, okay? She was just about to share this happy news with her husband, when the idiot howled, “Throw it away, throw that damned fish away!”

“Yes.” Zhang Tianming dared not protest. He turned to carry out the orders when the roar of the Lioness of Hedong blasted him from behind, “Halt!”

“Ah?”

His Excellency Zhang was currently in a dilemma. The lord heir wanted him to throw the fish away, the madam told him to halt… who should he listen to, ah? Was the madam hypnotized by the horrible sight of this fish?

“Nuan Nuan,” Duan Tingxuan was also becoming anxious now, he had heard that there were sea creatures called mermaids that could hypnotize people in order to drag them into the sea. Could it be that Nuan Nuan had been hypnotized somehow?

“Duan Tingxuan, take that kelp down. That is a life-saving staple food, you understand? I have a way to help the flood victims to survive until the Imperial Relief Provisions arrive. That thing… that thing is… really nutritious, and delicious and very, very tasty. Do you know it? It’s…”

“Nuan Nuan, slow down, slow down. Are you talking about the seaweed on the fish? That kelp thing could be eaten?”

Su Nuan Nuan was so excited that she was not making much sense. Fortunately, the little marquis was rather sharp and aided by the power of love, was able to deduce his wife’s incoherent babbling and excited gestures.

“That’s right, that’s right.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded. Still very excited, she continued to babble, “This thing is called kelp, hmm, let me think. The Liaodong Peninsula and the Shandong Peninsula, yes, these are the two only places where kelp grew in abundance naturally within our Imperial borders. How odd, kelp shouldn’t be around at this time, ah. It is said that it wasn’t until 1927 to 1930s when Japanese people started importing kelp that we started seeing them around here [4]. And that’s because they managed to discover a way to artificially breed kelp in a large-scale, even then it was nearly 50 or 60 years later before they began outsourcing for labour…”

Actually, Su Nuan Nuan really did not know much about the kelp production in general, she came across the information while surfing the internet and had absorbed the knowledge more or less through osmosis. She’s currently muttering aloud to herself, her voice was low enough that only Duan Tingxuan heard her clearly, but the thing that was bouncing around in his head was not the general history of kelp, but…

“Nuan Nuan, are you sure? This kelp… it could be eaten? As a staple food?”

“Yes, it could be eaten as a vegetable, but I have no idea how much kelp there are in the sea. No idea whether it’s enough for the whole of Jinzhou. Su Nuan Nuan lowered her head. Clearly, she had gone ahead of herself and become excited over nothing. Though the geographical location and plant life can’t be too different in a few hundred years, it was impossible to believe that everything would be exactly the same.

After all the kelp species produced in China during the modern era was probably not the same as the ones growing here. It was only after the opening of Japan’s borders and the increased frequency of Korean ships that kelp production started, right? If that’s the case, then, the kelp brought over here won’t be a lot, right? Moreover, what are the propagation strengths of kelp? Surely they can’t be as powerful as roaches, so what was she being so happy for?

[Gumihou: I’m… just going to assume that Su Nuan Nuan has a bad memory and completely forgotten that Japan and Korea have been receiving dried kelp as precious gifts from China since the Qin dynasty…]

“Oh, there are actually quite a lot of those things here. In the past, we don’t see much of it, but since a few years ago we saw a lot more of them. Some even washed up to the shore, but we dared not eat them because the elders of the village said that these are the hair of souls who died a few years ago during a big storm. Madam, are you saying that these things can actually be eaten?” A man in his thirties, possibly younger since starvation and excessive sun must have aged him, answered Su Nuan Nuan’s questions.

“Are there really a lot down there?”

Su Nuan Nuan could finally feel at ease, she patted her chest and laughed openly. “It’s good that there are a lot of them. These things are actually quite delicious and you can really eat your fill. Oh yes, since you often go fishing, do you know where else we can find them?”

“As far as I know, they are everywhere.” The man hesitated for a moment, before continuing in a cautious voice, “Madam, are you quite sure that they are edible? You might not know it, but these are evil things that drown people. Anyone who fell into the sea would be entangled by it and drowned.”

Su Nuan Nuan had also heard of this ‘evil’ properties of the kelp and smiled, “They really are edible, and they are not evil. Like trees and bushes, they are plants that grow in the sea. However, since they are so lush and long, it’s easy to get caught in them. Anyone who can’t escape would be drowned, that’s just common sense. Just make sure to bring a short knife to cut away the plant in the future and you can swim back to the surface easily. Don’t worry, these things don’t purposely eat people, they aren’t that advanced.”

 

[Gumihou: Luckily we’re not in THAT kind of novel…]

 

[1] nei gong – inner strength or qi

 

[2] Sturgeon fish, despite their looks, are considered rare delicacies. The Chinese sturgeon is called a “national treasure” in China, and its meat is considered a delicacy among Chinese people. Su Nuan Nuan cooked up a surgeon back at Chapter 239 into a Poached Fish dish.

http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/ctenglish/2018/sl/201807/t20180710_800134891.html

[3] Kelp grow like grass here – this is actually true. Regular readers will know that I like to fact check things, especially when it’s about real life ingredients, geography and spices.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Sea

I still can’t forgive Chapter 68 of Kitchen Xiuzhen. Check out this gold flaked shit:

A certain unique property of the fennel seed is that when it’s ground into powder, it’s known by a common name of — cumin!*

*Wrong fact alert!

 

[4] Kelp as human food dates back at least the 5th century in China. Though, I don’t think it could actually be used as a ‘staple food’?

http://www.seaweed.ie/uses_general/humanfood.php

But, I’m going to forgive Nuan Nuan since she has no internet with her, and she’s just muttering randomly to help herself remember. Completely different from the upstairs’ idiot who so confidently changed the type of herb just by grinding it to powder…

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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