This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
Yu Xiaocao had a face full of puzzlement. She looked at her good friends, who all had solemn expressions on their faces, and rubbed at her nose. She cautiously asked, “Is Royal Prince Yang’s face really that scary? Does anyone here think that he has a handsomely sculpted face, so good-looking that it could entrance someone? He clearly is very good-looking, so why do you all think he looks frightening?”
He Wanning popped another piece of chocolate into her mouth and closed her eyes in enjoyment. She candidly stated, “Royal Prince Yang’s default expression is as cold as the ice from a ten thousand year old glacier. It’s so icy that it freezes people instantly and the glare from his eyes seem to pierce a person’s heart, so no one dares to look at him directly. His whole body seems to give off a razor sharp aura and people can’t help but tremble in front of him! Even if he is handsome, no one would dare to appreciate it ah! However, in front of you, he’s as obedient and clever as Little Black. You’re not afraid of him, and you’re able to stand up to him. Thus, it’s only natural that you’re able to appreciate his…good parts, right?”
The other young maidens in the room didn’t know the ‘Little Black’ that He Wanning was referring to, but all of Xiaocao’s good friends knew. When they saw He Wanning daringly compare Royal Prince Yang to that pet wolf, who could act adorably spoiled in front of Xiaocao, they had to muffle their giggles. Yu Wanqing had been in the middle of taking a sip of coffee and had accidentally choked on the liquid after hearing He Wanning’s comparison. The young maiden coughed and sputtered for a few minutes.
Royal Princess Minglan grinned broadly and used her pointer finger to tap He Wanning’s head as she said, “You ah! You only have the guts to make Royal Prince Yang a joke in front of us. If these words of yours end up being transmitted into his ears, you’re not going to have a good ending!”
“Uh…all of us are good friends here, ah. Thus, the words we say here should not be transmitted outside of this pavilion. None of us are flighty gossip mongers who can’t keep ahold of our tongues!” He Wanning glared warningly at all of the young maidens in the room. She then also showed an entreating expression to all of her close friends.
Li Mengru covered her mouth with her handkerchief and glanced at Xiaocao, who was laughing with the crowd. She smiled in amusement and said, “Older Sister He, I think it slipped your mind that Royal Prince Yang is Younger Sister Xiaocao’s sweetheart. The two of them spend a lot of time together. What if one day she forgets and accidentally tells him what you said today? What will you do then?”
He Wanning sent a fierce glare in the direction of Yu Xiaocao, who was grinning like a maniac. Xiaocao hurriedly mimed locking her mouth and said, “Don’t worry! Am I the type of person who is that unreliable ah? When has anything our little group has talked about ever been disseminated into the public? That being said, I also think you’re right. He really does resemble Little Black sometimes!”
“See, Younger Sister Xiaocao also agrees with me! As soon as Royal Prince Yang is in front of our younger sister, he immediately becomes obedient. Otherwise, our younger sister wouldn’t become interested in such a big ice cube. What do you all think?” He Wanning casually continued to devour pastries. Most of the desserts on the table had been consumed by her.
Xiaocao reminded her, “Try not to eat too much here. In a bit, lunch will be served and if you eat too much here you won’t have an appetite for the food then.”
He Wanning waved a hand in dismissal, “What kind of food is there for lunch? It’s all the same anyway. How could it be any more novel than this? These desserts and chocolates aren’t something that I can eat whenever I want. Thus, I naturally have to eat more now.”
Royal Princess Minglan rolled her eyes at the other young lady and said, “You’re such a disgrace!” Although she said it like that, she also didn’t stop eating the desserts on the table.
Yu Xiaocao raised her voice to announce, “Lunch today will have a few dishes that I have personally just come up with. This will be the first time they will be making an appearance in the Great Ming Empire! The most important one is a dish called ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’, and it’s a dish that even the emperor emeritus and emperor cannot forget. Are you guys sure you don’t want to try them?”
“Wow! The food that Older Sister Yu makes is truly delicious. I’m so excited to try these new dishes! The name ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’ is quite unique. Doesn’t that mean that the dish is so tasty that even Buddha himself can’t resist the temptation?” After personally tasting Xiaocao’s food, Yu Wanqing had become a die-hard fan of her cuisine so she gratifyingly showed her support in a pleasing manner.
He Wanning rubbed her tummy, which was about seventy percent full, and then glared at Xiaocao, “Why didn’t you mention this earlier? You made it such that I ate a full belly full of sweets before tempting me with the food at lunch…however, I absolutely won’t hold back at lunch today. Every time Younger Sister Xiaocao cooks, the food is divine. I’ll stuff myself to death if I have to!”
Yuan Xueyan calmly shoved a verbal knife, “Then who was the one complaining earlier that her clothes were getting tight and that she needed to eat less to lose some weight?”
Yu Xiaocao looked at He Wanning, who had a beautiful figure, from head to toe and remarked in a shocked manner, “Older Sister He wants to lose weight ah? Then this is bad. These desserts and chocolates provide a lot of energy and are more likely to cause people to gain weight than eating fatty braised pork ah! How about…when you leave, you don’t take those two boxes of desserts with you?”
“How can that be ok? What about…what about in the future I’ll go practice martial arts a bit with my eldest brother or I could spend some more time on horseback? These desserts are so delicious, so those two boxes aren’t even enough for me to eat!” He Wanning had a nervous expression on her face as she was afraid that Xiaocao would not give her the boxes of chocolates and desserts.
Yuan Xueyan rolled her eyes, “Then if you die of overeating, it’s all on you!”
“If I can’t eat delicious food, then what’s the point in living?” When He Wanning had to choose between ‘losing weight’ and ‘eating delicious food’, she naturally ended up selecting the latter.
Yu Wanqing comforted the older maiden by saying, “Older Sister He, you’re not fat, so why torture yourself to lose weight ah? My mother said that I need to eat more like you, that way I can have a strong and healthy body and avoid having my skin produce more issues.”
He Wanning pulled Wanqing into her arms and almost planted a kiss on the younger girl’s face, “You’re clearly my little sweetie. This older sister didn’t dote on you for nothing. You’re right. I’m not even fat so why do I need to lose weight? Why torture myself for nothing?”
Royal Princess Minglan had originally stopped reaching for desserts after hearing Xiaocao’s comments on the food. However, she glanced at He Wanning’s ‘curvaceous’ figure and then lowered her head to look at her own slim and slender waist. Then, she began reaching for the tiramisu again. If He Wanning’s figure wasn’t considered fat, then what did she have to be afraid of?
Once the other maidens found out that new dishes were going to be presented for lunch, all of them either slowed their speed or stopped eating the desserts on the table. One after another, they began to quietly discuss amongst their good friends about the relationship between Miss Yu and Zhenxiu Restaurant. They were all looking forward to the noon meal.
Meixiang came over as ordered to invite all of the young maidens over to the theatre pavilion and noticed that the atmosphere looked peaceful and harmonious. Originally, when she found out that Miss Yu was the one hosting these maidens, Meixiang was a bit worried that these noble young ladies would try to make things difficult for Miss Yu. She didn’t expect that Miss Yu had the skills to make everyone behave in such a courteous manner.
However, how could she know that Yu Xiaocao didn’t use much effort to make the event go well? As soon as the desserts and chocolates came out, all of the young maidens here immediately shelved any thoughts of causing trouble. They were eating her food. If anyone came out to say some sour remarks now, that would truly mean they had no sense.
While they were watching the plays, the young ladies were all preoccupied thinking about the upcoming noon meal and fantasizing about ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’ as Xiaocao had described it in such a tantalizing manner. Thus, most of them seemed quite distracted. Only a few of them managed to pay attention to even the most favored play of the ladies. Their elders all noticed the change in their juniors but couldn’t figure out what was going on.
It was only after when the servants came over to announce that the noon meal was ready for the princess consort and her guests that the young maidens all seemed to snap out of their daydreams. Only then did the matrons and ladies present realize that their daughters (granddaughters) were preoccupied with thinking about the meal. Then, they remembered that the Yu Family’s young maiden had received the juniors earlier, which meant that the upcoming meal was related to her as well. Thus, they also began to excitedly anticipate lunch.
As expected, the unique dishes at the lunch didn’t disappoint a single one of the guests.
‘Lightly fried mandarin fish fillets’ was a dish that required fine knife skills. The bones of the mandarin fish were carefully removed and then, with one knife stroke, the skin was removed entirely in one piece before cooking. The cooked flesh was then delicately sliced into fillets that were as thin as a cicada’s wing and arranged beautifully on the platter.
‘Dried scallop rings’ was a dish that used strips of daikon to form the ‘ring’ portion of the dish. Inside the ring, dried scallops were placed in the middle. The golden-yellow color of the scallops contrasted sharply with the whiteness of the daikon, making an elegant and pleasing sight. When the dish was eaten, the texture was soft and tender with a light, pleasing fragrance.
‘Squirrel fish’ was a dish whose name referred to the fact that it looked like a squirrel. The fish had tender meat, golden-yellow luster, and tasted sweet and sour in the mouth. Furthermore, it had the faint aroma of pine nuts.
‘Crystal meat slices’ was a dish that mixed fragrant chopped meat with solidified tasty broth. The red of the meat contrasted beautifully with the transparent, sparkling solidified broth. The texture was tender and soft, rich without being greasy, and the dish had a delicate savory flavor.
‘Stewed bamboo shoots from Wenzheng Mountain’ was a dish that cooked the bamboo shoots until they were tender with a delicate mouth feel and they were infused with a rich flavor. The dish also contained sausages and shiitake mushrooms, which elevated the savory taste. A single bite would flood a person’s mouth with a delicious aroma…
Every single dish was refreshing and unique. Even those old gluttons, who thought that they had eaten all of the delicious foods in the world, had never encountered food that had such a pleasing look, tantalizing aroma, and mind-blowing flavor as these dishes. A few of the older guests, who were obsessed with food, inquired about the new chef that the prince’s estate had invited, so that they could find a chef like that too.
When they found out that these new dishes had all been created by Imperial Prince Jing Household’s future daughter-in-law in her spare time, they all became upset and regretful. Why hadn’t they struck first when they had the chance and snatched such an ideal wife for their sons or grandsons?
Oh my, for the sake of eating delicious foods, these people were willing to sell their sons and grandsons. These old men put up an elegant and dignified front while they were at court, but, in private, they were just some old urchins who loved to eat delicious foods.
When the star of the meal, Buddha Jumps over the Wall, appeared on the tables, these old officials, who had eaten until they were stuffed, seemed to get a second wind. It was as if those people who had seconds ago been burping and hiccuping from fullness weren’t them! They ate as if they couldn’t stop themselves!
As the host, Imperial Prince Jing was quite alarmed when he saw this sight and hurriedly commanded the servants to brew more digestive soup to avoid having the issue of these old men, who were the pillars of the court and country, becoming heavily ill from indigestion.
As for the women in the inner courtyard, they weren’t doing much better than the men. In the morning, they had already eaten quite a few pastries and desserts. The older ladies and matrons were aware of their statuses and were able to control their appetites in an effort to keep their reputation. However, the younger maidens had ended up eating many chocolates and desserts.
Unfortunately, the tables in front of them were testing them again. There were a plethora of delicious and unique dishes, so none of them could resist letting this opportunity pass, especially the tables that were next to Xiaocao. When the maidens seated there heard her describe and introduce all of these dishes and then tried them themselves, how could they possibly stop themselves from eating more?
Prior to the arrival of Buddha Jumps over the Wall at the table, He Wanning cradled her bulging little stomach and repeatedly muttered loudly, “I can’t do this anymore. If I eat any more something bad is going to happen. No matter how delicious the next plates are, this maiden will have to decline!”
Seated at the main table was Marchioness Anning. She sent a pointed glare at her daughter. Her daughter was almost an adult lady, at the cusp of getting married, yet she still spoke without thinking and in a rash manner. In contrast, Yu Xiaocao was younger than He Wanning by two years but was clearly much more mature and steady. Furthermore, that lass knew how to experiment with foods and had quite the culinary talent. Argh! Comparisons could truly infuriate a person, especially when you came out as inferior. Why didn’t the heavens have eyes and let her birth a daughter like Royal Princess Jinan instead?
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