A Young Lady’s Unreasonable Demand (Part 1)
The first thing Johann Gustav noticed when he entered the store was its warmth.
If you mentioned the word “bar” in this town, you would normally imagine a chilly draft blowing on you as you drank. What was with this store? Even though it was small, chairs were provided, a consideration for people who wanted to sit down and enjoy the drinks and dishes. To pay attention to such details…his expectations went up a little.
He first gave up his seat to a monk, and then looked around the interior of the store again.
There were labels on the wall, which appeared to be the menu and was written in foreign characters. It gave a pleasant feeling. He savoured the atmosphere of the store as he wiped his hand with a thick, warm handkerchief called an “Oshibori”, which had been presented by the waitress as if it were a natural thing to do.
The hanging menu showcased the skills of the chef who could cook so many types of dishes, assuming there was someone who could read the language, of course.
Underneath the menu appeared to be symbols that represented the prices of the dishes. It symbolized the chef’s honour in continuing to provide the dishes at the same price, even if there were fluctuations in the price of ingredients.
Although Johann Gustav had not eaten in this store yet, he liked the place.
At the same time, he felt a little embarrassed for pushing such an unreasonable demand onto this great chef.
「May I take your order?」
The waitress asked in a friendly manner. It wasn’t too rude, nor was it too formal.
「Well…Hildegarde, what would you like to eat?」
Johann Gustav asked his companion, Hildegarde. It was an unpleasant role, if he had to say so himself. The answer was always decided beforehand.
「I want to eat something delicious that is not smelly, bitter, sour, or hard. I don’t want bread, potatoes, porridge or stew either.」
This girl who had the features of a doll, Hildegarde, ordered something unreasonable again. There was a limited variety of food that could be eaten in the Old Capital. Most of them smelled because of the strong-odour seasoning added in order to preserve the food longer. If you did not want bread, potatoes, porridge or stew, it was impossible to eat something delicious in the Old Capital during winter.
He thought that Hildegarde didn’t want to eat what she ordered, and that she just wanted to watch the faces of the chefs falling into despair after hearing such an unreasonable demand. It was truly malicious.
Despite being only 12 years old, Hildegarde was arranged to marry soon. Although he was entertaining her by watching her ruin the reputations of restaurants in the city, he had little hope that anything would be especially different.
Johann Gustav looked at the waitress’s face with an apologetic expression. However, there wasn’t a hint of a troubled expression on her face.
「Something that is delicious, but isn’t smelly, bitter, sour or hard. Also not bread, potatoes, porridge or stew. Please wait a while.」
She confirmed the order with a lively voice and went to inform the chef. He just silently nodded. What in the world would the chef serve?
Despite her appearance, Hildegarde was the daughter and a successor of the Viscount family. It would create a problem if strange things were served. Since she was orphaned at an early age, Johann Gustav, as her uncle, acted as her parent and might have spoilt her a little too much. He cherished his niece like his own daughter.
Therefore, he wished for her to stay strong and healthy.
Instead of worrying about whether her demands would not be met, he was ashamed at his ignorance, for not expecting that it would go so smoothly. Perhaps he would not need to be concerned about the dish that was going to be served.
The waitress skillfully placed an iron box before Johann Gustav and Hildegarde. It wasn’t an ordinary box. It seemed like some sort of small portable furnace. Which blacksmith came up with this device? If possible, he’d like to invite this person to his territory.
「I’ll turn on the fire, so it’s dangerous, okay?」
When the waitress turned the knob on the box, a pale flame ignited with a ‘pop’. This was splendid! A ceramic pot was placed on top of the fire. Indeed, cooking in front of the customer might be a good idea. It was tasteful, considering today was a cold day. No matter how delicious the dish was, it would still get cold when it was carried to the seat. Setting up such a thing was a luxury. In fact, it was rare for a noble to taste something so freshly cooked.
There was a strip of a green, skin-like thing inside the pot. It was probably seaweed. If that was the case, perhaps this was the dish that was not smelly, bitter, sour, or hard, as well as not being bread, potatoes, porridge or stew?
When he looked at Hildegarde, she was watching the boiling hot water with much excitement. That’s right. Since she was raised in a protected environment, Hildegarde must not have seen boiling water up close before. Even the hot water in the bath was drawn into a tub first, to prevent it from burning her. This was the extent of her overprotection.
The waitress slowly slid a white mass into the pot. It was square shaped.
He had never seen such a thing before. Was this the dish?
Neither Johann Gustav, nor Hildegarde, nor the waitress, nor the chef spoke a word.
Only the sound of the simmering white mass could be heard in the store.