Deep-Fried Chicken (Part 1)
Winter in the Old Capital was cold.
Even though it didn’t snow much, the coldness of the north wind pierced the body.
「There’s nothing better than drinking alcohol on such a day.」
The commander of the sentry corps, Berthold, muttered while disbanding his troops.
Today, the training might have been a little too harsh. They were ordered to leave the castle walls and march to the forest while carrying a load. If it was just that much, it was something they practiced everyday. However, they even had to carry out mock battles twice, no, three times today.
If it were other corps, this would be impossible, but the Berthold corp was well known for its rigorous training anyway.
The distance they had to run was long.
The other commanders laughed at him for not putting emphasis on weapon mastery.
Even so, as a mercenary in origin, it was Berthold’s creed to make them run.
A soldier had to run.
Being able to run long distances increased the chances of survival.
「…Besides, ale tastes better after running.」
He had heard rumours of a store circulating among the soldiers.
However, Berthold didn’t know the place.
「Then, why was I chosen…」
「Think of it as an honour, Hans. An opportunity to drink with the commander does not come very often.」
Under the pretext of admonishing Hans for being clumsy during training, Berthold brought Hans out to show him the whereabouts of this shop.
For some reason, people were expected to have company while drinking.
「Deepening friendship with my subordinates. Maa, this idea isn’t that bad after all.」
Led by Hans, they arrived at the street in the outskirts of the Old Capital.
This area was famous for merchants who used the inns and stables, which were located side by side. There were many people there in the evenings.
「We have arrived, commander.」
「It’s a free and easy evening tonight, let’s skip the formalities.」
「Then, Berthold-san. Let’s enter quickly.」
After entering the store, Hans yelled “Toriaezu Nama” familiarly and ordered ale for two people.
It was somehow heartwarming to see a waitress with black hair come up to take their orders with a smile.
While quenching his thirst with the delicious golden ale that arrived, Berthold looked around the interior of the shop.
There was something like a menu written on the wall, but the words couldn’t be understood. The beans named “Otoshi” that Hans was eating were also delicious, but he felt a little uncomfortable not being able to order by himself.
(TL: Otoshi = appetizer)
「Taisho, dried squid!」
(TL: italicized since residents of this world were speaking Japanese items in kata. I.e, not understanding the language but only the meaning)
Hans began to order freely, without minding Berthold.
While peeking at the master, Taisho’s hand, he saw him grilling something over a fire.
「Taisho, is that…」
「Dried squid tentacle. Is that okay?」
The moment Berthold heard this word, a chill ran up his spine.
The old wound on his left arm began to throb.
「Ah, can I get something else?」
「Well then, what would you like?」
「What is available in this shop? I couldn’t read the words on the menu.」
「Oh, I’m sorry. I think I will have to rewrite it soon. Please request anything. I can make most things.」
After seeing Taisho make a smiling face, the desire to challenge him welled up in Berthold. It would probably be good. Berthold accepted the challenge, aiming to win.
The ale was certainly delicious.
How about making a dish to suit this ale? It would be quite interesting.
Having said that, it would be worrisome if something plain came out.
Berthold was becoming hungry. He tightened his stomach. He didn’t want to drink the remainder of his ale excessively.
「…Taisho. I like chicken.」
「Chicken, is it?」
「A fitting chicken dish to pair with this “Toriaezu Nama”.」
「I see. I understand.」
Taisho, not looking particularly troubled, started cooking.
However, Berthold knew. It was a ridiculous demand.
There were only six kinds of meat in the Old Capital.
Pork, mutton, rabbit, beef, horse, and chicken.
The pork was the most popular, since it was easily obtainable. The mutton and rabbit meat were also good.
The problem arose with beef, horse, and chicken. They were products as a result of the animals no longer being suitable as livestock. The cows and horses were vehicles, farming tools, and property. They didn’t often appear on the market.
Then there was the chicken.
The meat of hens which no longer laid eggs were lined up in the market. However, the meat was hard.
Whether it was the breast meat or the thigh meat sold in the market, it was tough and unappetizing. How would it be cooked in this shop?
「Well, while you’re waiting, please eat this. On the house.」
The waitress-in-charge said this and presented a bowl of cucumber cut into round slices.
「Cucumber? It’s huge.」
「Since it was pickled well, it’s delicious, you know.」
Although Berthold didn’t understand how it was pickled, he picked it up just as it was.
It was salty.
What was this taste?
This crisp sensation tickling your tongue, paired with this moderate saltiness.
No, it was not just salty. This taste couldn’t be explained properly, but the hands did not stop.
Cucumber, ale, cucumber, ale, cucumber, ale…
「I ended up finishing it. Can I get a second serving?」
「Yes, one plate of pickled cucumber, coming right up!」
This time, he decided not to rush and eat it slowly.
It was terrifying. It was only cucumber. However, why was it that when he ate it at this shop, it became so delicious?
「Hey, Berthold-san, this is a good shop, right?」
「Hm? Yeah it is. But, the important chicken dish is still not ready.」
Taisho soaked bite-sized chicken pieces into a marinate and massaged it in.
Just what kind of dish would come out?
Taisho looked inside an iron box by the counter and muttered as if he remembered something.
The waitress asked.
「Ah, I ran out of pickles…this is bad. Shinobu-chan, could you go and buy them?」
「What would you need the pickles for?」
「Well, it’s for the customer’s dish. But, it is for later.」
「Though I don’t understand clearly…is it still sold in the first place? At this time?」
「Scallions are good enough. Even those are delicious. There should be some sold at the 100-yen supermarket nearby.」
Berthold didn’t understand those words.
What had Taisho meant?
The waitress took off her apron and was going to go out when Hans stopped her.
「It is dangerous for a woman to go out alone at this time. I will accompany you.」
「Ah, it is alright, esteemed guest. Please enjoy the cucumbers while waiting. It is very close, so I will return immediately.」
After gently pushing aside his hand, Shinobu went out from the back door.
For a moment, Berthold saw the scenery outside, and somehow, it was very bright.