【Idle Talk】An Unexpected Visitor (Part 2)
Nobuyuki paused for a bit, then served the makogarei nitsuke.
Even though it was a bit inferior compared to the one he had served yesterday, this combined with the sashimi was more than enough for the match.
He wanted Tonoharu to eat the nitsuke that was seasoned according to the Old Capital’s style.
He paid perfect attention to the arrangement of the dish and carefully finished plating it.
Tonoharu stared at the served plate while slowly, carefully, and nonchalantly checking its aroma.
He extended the chopsticks, and took a bite.
He immediately closed his eyes and chewed it slowly.
After a brief moment that felt like an eternity, he slowly opened his eyes.
「The taste…there is some doubt in it.」
Tonoharu’s one word pierced Nobuyuki’s heart.
There was indeed doubt. That was why he changed the flavours everyday.
His knees nearly trembled at being seen through in an instant.
「However, it is a good kind of doubt.」
「Good kind of doubt…you say?」
「Yeah, you’re wavering between the taste that I taught and the taste that you’re aiming for. That’s how it is, you know?」
As Tonoharu picked up the second piece, he opened his mouth.
「How far do you want to match the customer’s taste? Where do you establish the roots of your taste? What is really correct? When I was at your age, I was very troubled by it as well.」
「Is that so?」
「I am a human being too. I was not born a chef. I also had my fair share of troubles and hardships.」
That was unexpected.
Ever since graduating from high school, Nobuyuki had looked up to Tonoharu, almost like he was a parent figure.
It felt like the Tonoharu today was just like the one he had looked up to in the past.
「There’s a word: Shuhari. To study, to break free, and to leave the nest.」
「The present you, is frustrated. Trying to break out of the shell called my teachings. This is the most critical period.」
「Breaking free, then…leaving the nest.」
「There won’t be an answer written anywhere. You have to find it yourself. You grow while serving customers.」
The words ‘Grow while serving customers’ resonated deeply in Nobuyuki’s heart.
Could his current self make dishes that customers could truly appreciate?
However, wasn’t it enough to use ingredients that were not available in the Old Capital to make unusual dishes?
「Conceit is a frightening thing. It will ruin your abilities before you know it. Well, there is no need for such worries in Yazawa’s situation.」
「No, I will work hard.」
Upon hearing Nobuyuki’s reply, Tonoharu drank his beer, which he had poured himself, while nodding in approval.
It was a pleasant smile that lured him into unconsciously accepting it.
「By the way, Yazawa. Let’s leave this serious topic at that.」
「Yes, what is it?」
「The octopus just now. Will you simmer it with anchovy, garlic, and chilli pepper, along with olive oil?」
At first, Nobuyuki was surprised to hear the words ‘anchovy’ and ‘olive oil’ coming out of Tonoharu’s mouth. When Nobuyuki was in Yukitsuna, Tonoharu had never seemed like he had eaten anything other than Japanese cuisine before.
「We don’t have anything as fancy as anchovies here.」
「Come on, Yazawa. This is a pub, not a ryotei. I see, I see. You can also use salted fish instead of anchovies. Even though I have not tried it, it’ll probably turn out like an imitation ahijo.」
(TL note: ahijo = dish fried in garlic. in spanish = ajillo)
「Ahijo, you say?」
He had heard that name before. If he was not mistaken, it was a dish simmered in Spanish oil.
「It is good as a snack served with wine, but it goes with beer too. Even though the octopus earlier was still slightly firm, the flavor was sufficient. It won’t be overpowered by raw ingredients like the garlic and chilli pepper either.」
The olive oil was stocked for when Shinobu made pasta for her employee meals.
He chopped up the ingredients and simmered them with olive oil for a change in flavor, and then added the octopus, which had been chopped into bite size pieces. Since he was testing it for the first time, he added just a hint of salted fish.
After that, an exquisite fragrance started drifting around in the kitchen.
「This smell, it’s irresistible, isn’t it?」
「Yep, it smells appetizing.」
「Especially if you tear off a piece of baguette, dip it in this, and eat it.」
When he felt like it had been cooked just right, he picked up a piece of octopus and tasted it.
It was delicious.
He had been a little anxious about using the salted fish, but it ended up tasting similar to if he had used anchovies.
The garlic and chilli pepper also blended well together.
「So? It’s delicious, right?」
Nobuyuki dished out some octopus ahijo onto a small plate and served it to the grinning Tonoharu in front of him.
Incidentally, he also took out another bottle of beer from the refrigerator.
With this kind of flavour, the beer would definitely flow.
(TL: it’s saying that the beer will definitely be finished quickly and he’ll need more. something along those lines.)
「Well, you must have tried various things. While consulting Shinobu-ojousan.」
「Hey, hey, Shinobu-chan, huh…well, it’s all good. That young lady, she may not look like it, but she possesses a palate that could change the future. Do not let that treasure go to waste.」
Certainly, Shinobu did have a perceptive sense of taste, come to think of it.
If he had her do the tasting, his research to match the tastes of the Old Capital would probably have better progress than now.
「Thank you for everything today.」
「Hey, it’s all good. Both the young president and the senior proprietress…well, they appear to be worried as well. I am relieved to see you looking healthy.」
「Don’t you want to meet Shinobu-ojousan?」
「I’d like to meet her, but the young lady might get homesick in one way or another.」
Yukitsuna’s crisis had not been resolved.
If Shinobu returned to the store now, the problem might return.
Nobody wished for that to happen.
「Now then, I have bothered you today.」
「I look forward to seeing you again.」
Nobuyuki bowed deeply, and Tonoharu gently patted his head.
「Next time, let me eat the dish made by Yazawa Nobuyuki after leaving the nest.」
As he watched Tonoharu leave through the backdoor, Nobuyuki was already thinking about the flavours for a new dish.
He would, without fail, make his own style. Then he would make Tonoharu groan.
The moment Tonoharu turned around a corner and could not be seen anymore, his small back was replaced by Shinobu, who had just arrived.
「Ah, Taisho. I know you’re trying something new. It smells delicious, though.」
「Just a little. I was trying to make ahijo using Reinhold-san’s octopus.」
「Ahijo? Spanish cooking? That’s unusual. You’re going to feed me some, aren’t you?」
When Nobuyuki looked back at the counter, he saw that Tonoharu had completely cleaned his plate.
Nobuyuki had also finished the octopus in the frying pan, all under the pretence of sampling it.
The octopus alone had been delicious.
「Ah, umm. But here, there’s pudding…」
「Even though it smells delicious, I can’t eat it. Why?!」
In the end, Nobuyuki had to prepare ahijo again for Shinobu’s sake, and he also served it to Deacon Edwin, who had been lured in by the smell.