Chapter 251: Gather Happily in One Hall
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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The moment Shi Yurou stepped in and caught sight of Su Nuan Nuan, a warm smile blossomed across her face. She fairly flew across the room to grab Su Nuan Nuan’s hands, pausing only to throw a perfunctory greeting at the other wives and ladies around before saying emotionally, “The second master and I have been waiting so anxiously for sister-in-law’s return. How you bear to just run off on your own without leaving us a way to contact you is beyond me. Please do consider the poor people who are left behind when you go traipsing around the country. I swear, the difficulties we’ve encountered have turned us all into ants dancing on a hot plate.”
“What’s all this? It’s one thing for old madam to scold me, but why must you also complain about me not being at home? Just when did I become an indispensable person in this family?” Su Nuan Nuan was really confused now, and a little dazzled by Shi Yurou’s weird behaviour. She was only gone for a few months, but isn’t this Shi Yurou too warm and affectionate? Her eyes were almost blinded by this woman’s sparkling smile and pleading eyes, ah…
“Naturally, sister-in-law is the most indispensable person in this family. Anyway, you must tell me all about Buddha Jumps over the Wall, that Poached Fish, and also that Chilli Peppers thing. Do you know how many days I’ve restrained myself from talking about all of this? I became a mouse hiding in her mouse hole because I can’t trust myself not to blurt everything out, you know? I dare not talk about any of this to anyone aside from the second master. Except he’s not around to talk to all the time.
But, never mind that. I have already sent people out to fetch him back. When the time comes, sister-in-law must personally come to the restaurant and give our chefs a demonstration. That sneaky Li Qiushan only has eyes for developing the Lin Qing branch of An Le Lou and sent some second rate kitchen helper to give a demonstration to the Capital cooks. We made everything according to that little cook’s instructions but the end result was nothing special. When we sent an inquiry to the Lin Qing manager, that cheeky thing had to say that it takes talent to make a good Buddha Jumps over the Wall.
Pei! I say to that. What kind of talent are you looking for? Are the chefs of the Capital An Le Lou not talented enough? I tell you, I don’t know what rotten medicine the second master had taken, but I’ve been telling him that he should fire that cheeky Manager Li for his terrible attitude and lack of foresight. Let me ask you, just what owner would keep a ‘White-Eyed Wolf’ like that person to be a manager?”
The more Shi Yurou spoke, the more urgent she sounded. In fact, there were times when she was nearly incoherent with rage and indignance. However, Su Nuan Nuan somehow managed to understand the gist of the matter and smiled placatingly, “Well, things may not be as it seems. I do believe that second brother made the right choice. We should cultivate people who could make decisions for themselves and aim for the best results in everything.”
Before she could continue, Old Madam Fang slapped the table crossly and said, “Enough, just when did the two of you became so close and intimate? Have I imagined the time when Zhao Cai was almost beaten to death?”
For a moment, everyone was taken aback. Then, loud laughter filled the slightly awkward atmosphere. Shi Yurou quickly rushed over to smile and flatter Old Madam Fang, hands going over to massage the old woman’s shoulder, “Old madam, this is the only opportunity I have to beg favours from sister-in-law. You’ve only seen me flatter her, but do you know just how much I envied and admire her? Please don’t bring up my past deeds to incite disharmony. In this whole mansion, the person closest to sister-in-law is old madam, I am but a lowly sister-in-law who could only be stepped on by everyone. I know my place in this family very well. For the sin of causing trouble for Zhao Cai, sister-in-law made sure I paid in thousands of silver teals already. Ah, the pain at that time is as though my very flesh has been gouged out, you know?”
The awkward laughter changed into something more genuine. Everyone thought: This branch lady seemed to have ‘Shed Her Mortal Body and Bones ’. Look how beautifully she weaved her story from both truth and lies. Her frank honesty bordered on impetuousness was much more charming than her previous habit of concealing knives behind a sweet smile. It was no wonder that old madam liked her so much more now…
Old Madam Fang laughed again, the vague sense of anxiety that had been plaguing her all this while was suddenly blown away, leaving nothing but joy and laughter behind. The old lady was so happy that her lips never fully pressed together. However, one other thing still bothered her.
Finally, unable to bear it anymore she pulled Shi Yurou’s busy fingers from her shoulders and asked, “What’s this about a Buddha jumping over to poach someone’s fish and hiding it in some mouse hole? Have you and your sister-in-law been making some new delicacies behind my back? If she refuses to share it with all of us you must tell me all about it. I shall send some cats over to her mouse hole and snatch those good things out.”
Everyone laughed. Shi Yurou also could not help her laughter, but she somehow managed to get herself under control enough to tell the story of Lin Qing’s An Le Lou as she knew it. At the end of the story, she added, “The second master came back to tell me that the little cook from Lin Qing kept complaining that the Buddha Jumps over the Wall that we made here tasted wrong, or not right, or somehow just not authentic.
I suspect that bastard Li Qiushan purposely gave us a faulty recipe to delay the production of this dish at the Capital and maintain the monopoly of this Buddha Jumps over the Wall. In fact, I heard that these few months alone many people from the Capital had rushed over to Lin Qing just to taste Buddha Jumps over the Wall. When they came back, it was only to complain why the Capital’s An Le Lou did not have this supposedly most delicious soup they had ever tasted in the world.”
“No wonder! That surnamed Li brat must be aiming for this result, how sneaky. Clearly, this is a case of ‘Teaching the Student and Starving the Masters’. You are right, these slaves are all the same. In order to rise above their peers, they would utilize such an underhanded method. En, if you think about it properly, it’s only natural for people to want to do what they can to further their ambitions.”
Old Madam Fang nodded decisively to herself after giving Manager Li this ‘fair and just’ evaluation. Then Shi Yurou retorted, “Old madam is too generous and benevolent. Have you ever thought that by not giving us the full recipe, just how much An Le Lou’s main branch chefs had been struggling these past three months to master this faulty recipe? Second master might be a businessman, but he is unwilling to ruin An Le Lou’s reputation by selling less than authentic recipes fully mastered by our chefs.
We have been waiting all this while for sister-in-law to come back and verify the recipe. In that same three months, my dear old madam never had the opportunity to touch even a drop of this ‘Most delicious soup in the world’. The reason why I have been hiding out like a mouse is because I could not bear to keep this a secret, but yet know that I cannot stimulate your appetite by revealing this recipe…”
Old Madam Fang suddenly slam her palm onto the table and snarled, “You are right, that surnamed Li manager person thing is too disgraceful, shameful and outrageous! How could he just learn this craft and did not immediately come here and share the recipe with the main restaurant? How dare he keep the recipe for his own benefit? Too shameful! Disgraceful!”
Everyone, “… …”
Su Nuan Nuan thought: Old madam, it’s not good to change your opinion so abruptly, ah. You might as well have just slapped your own face, ah. Really, how could you just throw away your name and reputation for the sake of a bowl of Buddha Jumps over the Wall? This is not at all dignified, ah.
While everyone was sitting there speechless, they heard someone laughed from outside. “What is everyone discussing so cheerfully today, ah? Let me hear it too.”
Everyone, “… …”
Su Nuan Nuan thought: Which one of your broken ears heard us chatting cheerfully? Old madam is currently being furious at a certain Manager Li, you know?
Duan Tingxuan’s person soon followed his speech. The man himself passed through the screen and saw all the ladies staring at him silently. For a moment, he was too taken aback to say anything. Then, he checked himself but found nothing wrong with his own appearance. He had taken the trouble to go home for a quick bath and a change of clothes, and though it was nothing too fancy he still looked as elegantly turned out as ever. Could it be that he had said something wrong just before coming in? But, surely there was nothing too weird in what he had just said right? Aren’t these people just ‘Poking For Bones in an Egg ’ now?
He was still wondering what his possible faux pas was when Old Madam Fang said tersely, “You stinky little brat, still know how to call me grandmother when you come back? If you don’t want to come back you can just stay away. I don’t care anymore. However, since you are here, immediately do something for me. Call that Manager Li from Lin Qing’s An Le Lou over to the Capital. I don’t care what excuse you use, fire him.”
Author White Pear Flower: The weather changes too frequently these past few days, my mother, I and Little Pear are all sick. Little Pear is suffering from a fever, so I had to look after him, even with a 38.4 degrees forehead…
[Gumihou: Ahhh Shi Yurou, it’s hilarious to see her go ‘That bastard xxx’ or wailing ‘oh noes, little me~’ in front of the elder madams so unabashedly. I think she and Su Nuan Nuan could be best friends, you know?]
 Shed Her Mortal Body and Bones – Turn over a new leaf, completely changed
 Poking For Bones in an Egg – Splitting hairs, finding trouble
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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