Chapter 42 Sashimi (g)
Translated by Ultra
Edited by Gumihou
The College grounds was very large.
When Shiyu left the tranquil wooded residential area, it was as though she had turned a corner and stepped through a magical doorway into a bustling little town. Town was not a bad description for the College. She needed an actual map to navigate this place. Shiyu looked around the neighbourhood, noted the various landmarks and consulted her map again.
 Hmm, it looked like this cafeteria was quite far from the wooded residential area… which made sense since private courtyard meant private kitchens. The cafeteria was meant for students with no means of cooking their own food after all.
However, it was no hardship travelling that distance. The sceneries were nice, and she could people watch. The people hurrying past her like breeze in the wind, or strolling in twos or threes with close, intimate friends. It was a typical vision of youthful freshness, ah.
“How nice to be young, ” a sigh from Fat Cat tickled Shiyu’s left ear.
On her right should, San Pang propped his chin up in one hand and sighed agreeably, “Youth is a wonderful thing!”
Having these two creatures on each shoulder sighing like two elderly people about how ‘Time Gallops like a White Horse ’ made Shiyu’s eye twitched.
They had not gone very far when Old Grandpa Pang suddenly looked up and exclaimed, “Look! A pretty man!”
“Where?” Shiyu brightened up with anticipation. She was here to enjoy the scenery after all .
“By the lake!”
Shiyu immediately looked towards the lake. A flash of dark hair against refreshing green fabric caught her eye. Strolling by the lake was a young man in light green clothes. He had one hand up to protect his eyes from the stiff breeze that floated his long dark hair and his wide, green and white sleeves. It was like looking at a portrait entitled ‘Catching Sight of an Immortal Unaware’ .
“Gorgeous, ” Shiyu was not stingy with her praise.
“There’s another one there!” San Pang exclaimed. Clearly this radish has very good eyes. “Dressed in black, 20 paces there!”
Shiyu switched her gaze over to the youth in black. Oho, very straight and tall, with well-defined features and deep eyes. It was the cold and severe eyes that completed the look. He must have felt San Pang’s lecherous gaze , because when he looked over at them, the arrogant glare in his eyes that froze Shiyu’s blood in her veins.
Cool! 10 points! 
“There’s one more right in front of us!” San Pang continued to call out all the beauties in the field.
As one radish and one girl continued to comment on the, ahem, scenery. One fat cat stared at these two fools, unsure what to think of this unexpected development. It was like watching a couple of rogue wolves commenting on the health and deliciousness of a bunch of sheep. 
Time passed quickly when you’re having fun, Shiyu and San Pang continued to enjoy the, ahem, very fine scenery. It felt as though it took no time at all for them to reach the cafeteria.
The first thing one noticed about the cafeteria was the size of it. It looked more like a food court or a food bazaar with individual stores all along the walls and community-style long tables and benches in the middle. All you have to do was order your food from any of these little stores and then just pick a seat anywhere in the middle of the hall and eat it.
After asking some passing students to find out which cook has the best knife work, Shiyu zeroed in on her target.
Luck was on her side, she spotted the man almost immediately. Well, perhaps it was not luck, but the old man’s shop front being too conspicuous. Conspicuously empty that is!
With so many students milling about, you’d expect some to stop by a quiet shop for a quick, if mediocre meal, but… Well, to be fair, some did stop before the shop, but they were quickly pulled away by their friends. “Don’t go there, the food is terrible!”
Shiyu was intrigued. She approached the shop.
Within the shop was a middle-aged man. For a deserted shop, he sure looked busy, his hands never stopped moving. That was to say, he never stopped cutting out slices after slices of radishes. His cutting board was covered in translucent white discs. Shiyu’s practised eye could tell that there was nothing special about his knife. It was a standard Chinese kitchen knife , but his hands might as well be a machine as he quickly and accurately produced moon-like cuts over and over again.
Once the radish was whittled down, he chucked the whole lot into a pot of brown soup next to him and reached for another radish.
San Pang went limp at the sight.
Shiyu said, “If you dare to pee on my shoulder, I shall turn you into my personal eunuch.”
San Pang’s legs clamped together.
Shiyu approached the shop and said, “Boss, you’re… ahem, that is, how much for the radish soup?”
The man did not raise his head, “1 coin per bowl, have as much as you like.”
Shiyu glanced over at the prepared bowls and spoons and served herself some of the thick brown radish soup.
When she turned around to find a seat, she found sympathetic eyes on her.
… why are you all looking at me like that?
Shiyu sat down with her soup and hesitated.
Her reason for coming here was to observe some knife work, not put her life at risk.
Still, the bowl was already in front of her, so she might as well try it. Some self-preservation instinct stopped her from picking up the spoon. Instead, she found herself grasping a pair of chopsticks. 
Who drinks soup with chopsticks?
Anyway, since she has the chopsticks at hand, let’s just have a look at the master’s handiwork… unfortunately, stirring through the soup brought nothing up. Just what did he put into the soup anyway?
“Don’t bother looking for them anymore, the radishes are sliced so thinly that they are all boiled away.” said the Fat Cat.
Shiyu pondered over the issue for a bit, and decided to ask the man directly, “Master, why are there no radishes in your radish soup?”
“It’s all been boiled away. Its essence is in the soup itself.”
“But aren’t we supposed to enjoy radish for its taste and texture? What’s the purpose of slicing radish up so thinly?”
The man finally stopped cutting and addressed her directly. “This soup here,” he rapped the pot with his knife, “is basically a bin for all the radish scraps. It’s still better than throwing it all away.”
“Isn’t it a waste to make soup that nobody eats?” Shiyu asked.
“Who says nobody will eat it?”
As if to prove him right, a young man ran over and said, “Hey, master. Any soup left?”
“Yes, the price is the same. One coin, and you can have as much as you want.” said the man.
“Many thanks,” the young man slapped the coin down and… hauled the entire pot away…
While Shiyu speechlessly watched the young man rushed away with his prize, the man raised his voice and announced, “Only the rich have the luxury of being picky about their food, choosing to only eat mountain treasures and delicacies from distant lands. They all ignored the fact that the poor had to eat as well. While there are many who despised radish soup for being nasty, there are some who regarded it as heaven-sent.”
With his little speech done, he went back to his radish slicing business.
Shiyu watched as the young man devoured the soup, drinking it down as though he had not had a good meal in a while. How ironic, ah.  She had entered this world as a beggar. She had known starvation. Granted, not prolonged starvation since she had the good fortune of arriving here in summer. The first thing she had made in this world was a hearty mushroom soup with salt. If she had arrived in winter…
“Observe the man, he’s practicing his knife skills now.” Fat Cat’s voice interrupted her musings.
Shiyu shook her head and went over to watch. The man’s hands were moving like a finely tuned machine. The knife worked at such speed that it was like seeing a flash of light. She could barely follow his movements with her eyes.
However, she could see that unlike a machine, his knife work was not limited to just an up and down movement. There was a series of wrist work involved, but she could not make them out properly…
No wonder he considered the radish a by-product. They were a vehicle for him to practice his knife skills. He was not cooking, he was cultivating his knife skill, ah.
“Is this knife skill considered good?” Shiyu whispered to the cat.
“If you can do it, you’d have taken the first step to master true knife work.”
“…” well, let’s learn this first.  Shiyu approached the shop again. The man stopped slicing and said without looking up, “Girl, you are blocking my light.”
Shiyu stepped to the side and said, “Master, your knife work is incredible. May I know if you accept outside disciples?”
“Oh, you want to learn this?” something flashed through the man’s eyes. He looked Shiyu over and said, “It’s rare for girls to want to learn this, ah. You don’t look like you’re strong enough for it.”
Shiyu was about to try and persuade him when he continued, “However since you are sharp enough to understand great skill when you see it, I shall allow it. Come and work as my assistant. How much you’ll learn depends on yourself.”
Eh? She was accepted just like that?
However, before she could fully process what had just happened, she had been directed to the back and was given the task to wash radishes.
The youngster who had carried away the pot of soup was now back with an empty pot. He wiped his mouth and said, “Master, ah. You are too tricky. How could you just conscript some poor fool into washing your radishes for you?”
The man chuckled, “She wants to learn my knife skill, and I want someone to help me in the kitchen. Everyone gets what they want, it’s all very fair, ah.”
The young man curled his lips, “Your so-called knife work only looks fancy, but it’s useless in a battle. I’ve learned it myself, but the moment I pull my knife out, the opponent just kick it away. What’s the use of this so-called skill, I ask you?”
“Tch! Shoo! Off with you, if you dare say anything like this again you can forget about getting your paws on my radish soup.” The man flapped his hands at the youngster. “Just you watch, once I mastered this technique, you can pick up your eyeballs from the ground.”
The youngster looked like he has more to say, but the thought of getting banned from eating the cheap radish soup made him keep his mouth shut.
[Gumihou: … I want to know why the soup is brown…]
 Added more details: of the College grounds through Shiyu’s thoughts.
 OOC prevention adjustment: Changed ‘!’ to ‘,’ because I really can’t see enigmatic Fat Cat speaking in ‘!’, let alone ‘Youth is great!’ like a lecherous old man.
 Time Gallops like a White Horse – Time passed quickly
 OOC prevention adjustment: Changed the ‘!’ to ‘?’ to maintain Shiyu’s dignity. Also added an explanation for why she wants to look at pretty men.
 Added more details: Okay, I added details to their bishounen viewing game as well as the portrait remark. Because I missed Lu Fengyu. Ahhh, Fengyu baby, I hope you haven’t been bullied too badly ~
 OOC prevention adjustment: I think it’d be weird to have Shiyu look at men so lecherously when she did nothing of the sort with Liu Yi. So, San Pang ended up being the panting lecher who peppers his dialogue with ‘!’, while I changed Shiyu’s ‘!’ to ‘,’. Also, I added the ‘10 points’ remark for Shiyu to indicate just how not serious she was about the eye candies around.
 Structural adjustments: I think this is meant to be funny, but it was slightly overdone, so I reigned it in a bit.
 Chinese kitchen knife – the original text is ‘kitchen knife’ or vegetable knife. The Chinese cleaver is actually a very versatile tool. One of the main difference between Chinese kitchen knife skill and Japanese knife skill is in the tools. In other words, their knives.
Chinese cooks only ever use 3 kinds of knife – the Slicer, the Chopper and the Cleaver, they all looked alike from the outside, but Slicers have the thinnest blade and was the lightest of the three blades.
Japanese kitchen knives come in more variety, but homecooks generally only uses three kinds. Kitchen knife, vegetable knife and petty knife. The vegetable knife has a flat blade instead of a curved and is the knife used for the katsuramuki (ribbon cutting) technique. Its flat blade is similar to the Chinese Slicer.
 Missed Opportunity for funnies: The author tried so hard to be funny, but she missed this excellent opportunity to poke fun at Shiyu for choosing to poke her soup with chopsticks.
 Bad attempt at funny: I know this is supposed to be funny, but ‘!!’ gets annoying after a while. Also, I do believe this situation is better served by the following pic.
 Added more details: I do believe that the author missed out on bringing up Shiyu’s past here. She came into this world as a beggar, and as a beggar, she, of all people, should know what starvation feels like. I decided to explore that and extend the ‘suddenly feeling a bit of clarity’ into something more meaningful than merely slapped on
 I don’t know why the “!!!” Learn, learn, learn! at the cat’s comment. Author-san, not only must you make sure your character maintains their characteristics in terms of speech and action, but also in their thoughts, you know? Shiyu don’t be OOC
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