The kitchen door closed with a BANG, tightly cutting off a hint of an indescribable smell as well.
“Um… I need to go inside to give the baijiu to Su jie.” Xiao Zhou blushed and trembled as she looked at the man who was blocking her way.
Xie Yan turned around and glanced at her then he returned to the living room.
Xiao Zhou was so excited that she almost dropped the baijiu when she noticed that her idol had looked at her. But she still opened the kitchen door and went in as if she was on steroids.
Ten seconds later, she came out in disbelief.
Was Su jie a graduate from New Oriental Culinary School?
The people in the living room didn’t know how long they had been gaming for and with another look towards the kitchen, there was still no trace of a smell leaking out.
Contrariwise, Tong Le sat there uptight and quiet, clutching a notebook in hand. From time to time, she would take a look at Xie Yan.
Just after finishing with a game, Li Hao took out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and as he recalled Su Shen’s words from earlier, he stuffed it back into his pocket. When he saw Tong Le still acting bashful over there, he immediately shouted, “Xie Yan, she wants to take a photo with you, just cooperate for a bit!”
Tong Le: “……”
She just wanted an autograph though!
The person in the midst of typing something on his laptop suddenly looked up and glanced at the blushful Tong Le.
Tong Le, on the other hand, was so excited that her voice was trembling, “Can I?”
“Of course!” Li Hao made space for her to come over.
Perhaps she was too excited but Tong Le took a while to fiddle out her phone from her pocket and a while before she tapped on the camera icon.
“Come here, I’ll take it for you guys!” Li Hao enthusiastically took over her phone and blathered, “I just don’t understand the thinking of you girls, what’s this called again?”
“A true fan!” Wang Cheng, who was in the middle of playing a game, suddenly added.
“Yep! Xie Yan, smile a little and stop looking down. That girl’s your loyal fan!” Li Hao was extremely discontent with him looking down.
The latter looked up and glanced at Tong Le, who was beside him, making a peace sign. He then turned and looked at the camera.
The phone flashed a few times before Li Hao handed it back to Tong Le, who immediately grabbed her phone and looked at the photos excitedly.
“Xiao Zhou, come and help me serve the food!”
When Su Shen’s voice sounded from the kitchen, everyone in the living room immediately awoke. Wang Chang immediately placed his phone down and wailed, “I’ve been starving to death!”
If it hadn’t been because Su Shen’s cooking was so great, he would’ve gone out to play ball with Li Hao way earlier.
But when he saw Xiao Zhou coming and going from the kitchen serving plate after plate, he was stunned. He had never been so shocked in his entire life.
When Su Shen took off her apron and came out of the kitchen, she saw Wang Cheng propping himself on the table and staring at the dishes eyes-wide.
“Let’s eat, what kind of drinks do you all want?” She said while walking over to the fridge.
The dining table was rectangular and just happened to fit seven people. Looking at the whole 18 dishes on the table, even the forever calm Li Hao couldn’t help but pick up his chopsticks and stabbed into the plate of green things in front of him.
He picked up a piece of the green thing. “It’s actually not fake?”
“Don’t move!” Wang Cheng immediately exclaimed, “Let me take a pic!”
If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, Wang Cheng wouldn’t have believed that all these dishes on this table were real!
“Wow, this is exactly like the court dishes made by our prop team. Su Shen, are you actually a chef that graduated from New Oriental Culinary School?” Tong Le was full of disbelief and couldn’t look away from the table.
There were various kinds of court dishes which consisted of northern and southern cuisines. Today, Su Shen cooked dishes apart of southern cuisine which included the eight treasures from the top*, the eight treasures from the bottom* and the eight treasures from the sea*. The so-called exotic delicacies weren’t just in words. Back then, that renowned chef was actually invited by the First Madam* to teach her di jie* so that she could attract the Emperor through his stomach when she entered the imperial harem. Perhaps it was because she was usually so obedient, the First Madam had her learnt as well. Her di jie disdained this kind of work but Su Shen believed that it’s always better to learn more. There wasn’t enough time today and these dishes were already very ordinary.
eight treasures from the top* – consisting of lips of an ape, hump of a camel, head of a monkey, bear paw, bird’s nest, mallard meat, deer tendon, and yellow gum
eight treasures from the bottom* – consisting of sea cucumber, asparagus, St. George’s mushroom, bamboo shoots, capelin, dried scallop, oyster, and eggs of a snakehead fish
eight treasures from the sea* – consisting of fish bone, sea cucumber, shark fin, abalone, fish maw, scallop, sharks lip, and caviar
First Madam* – the legally wedded main wife
di jie – the daughter of the main wife (First Madam)
“Try and see if it’s to your taste.” Su Shen smiled and found that there was only a seat left next to Xie Yan. She then grabbed her cup and sat down.
After taking a photo, Wang Cheng hurriedly picked up his chopsticks and pointed at the dish with a white crane in front of him, “What’s this?”
Su Shen glanced at it and said insipidly, “Stewed mushrooms and cucumbers.”
From where she was from, it was called song he yan nian*.
song he yan nian – as old as a pine tree and hair like a crane’s
As she said, she grabbed the bottle of orange juice on the table and poured herself a cup, and looked at Xie Yan in passing, “Do you want some?”
The latter shook his head, with just a cup of water in front of him.
“AH!” Wang Cheng took a bite and leapt to his feet, “It’s the first time I’ve discovered that cucumbers could taste like this!”
Contrariwise to his babbling, Zhao Tong and Li Hao were already moving their chopsticks. It was just that the plating was way too pretty that sometimes they couldn’t bear to break it apart.
“AHHHH! Su Shen, you gotta pass on your cooking skills to me!” Tong Le couldn’t care less to diet anymore and picked up food one after another.
Xie Yan ate a piece of fish. He had eaten these kinds of court dishes before. It was said that the chef’s ancestor was an imperial chef in the palace. But though the plating was nice, the actual taste was not worth mentioning compared with those on the table.
“What’s this?!” Wang Cheng asked, pointing to a bowl with strikingly pretty plating.
Su Shen swept a glance and picked up some veggies, “Steamed Pork with Rice Flour*.”
Steamed Pork with Rice Flour – sticky rice mixed with short grain rice then mixed with pork and steamed; instead of pork, could also be made with beef
From where she was from, it was called Smashing Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Her zu mu* especially liked it so she spent a lot of effort on this dish.
zu mu – paternal Grandmother
“OMG, Su Shen, I’m serious but do you still lack a boyfriend?” Wang Cheng looked at the table full of dishes and once again exclaimed in disbelief.
In just over an hour, these dishes that only existed in imaginations could be whipped out. Those 5-star dinners which were all talk but nothing worth noting couldn’t even be on par with these.
“Wang Cheng, aren’t you on a diet? And you still wanna be Su Shen’s boyfriend, your fans should call you xiao fei rou* in the future.” Li Hao playfully teased while taking a bite of goose meat.
xiao fei rou – literally “little fat meat”, Li Hao is making a joke here as Wang Cheng is a xiao xian rou (little fresh meat – a young attractive man)
The latter snorted and ignored him; went on to taste each and every dish.
Midway through, Su Shen went back into the kitchen and brought out two plates of steaming hot pastries.
“Don’t, don’t bring it out! Let me pack it up and bring it home later!” Wang Cheng sat there at his seat all full.
Contrariwise, Zhao Tong stared at their Yan ge placing piece after piece of meat into his bowl. Even Li Hao was in shock, staring at him as if he was an alien. It was a known fact that Xie Yan would not even touch a slightest piece of meat.
Su Shen was relieved to see that Xie Yan was eating quite a lot. She was worried that it wouldn’t suit his taste.
After picking up a bite of veggies and placing it into his bowl, Xie Yan suddenly turned around slightly and looked at Su Shen beside him who had only just been drinking orange juice, “Why are you not eating?”
The latter was taken aback, placed her cup down and smiled while looking at him, “I’m different from you guys, I can’t eat too much.”
Upon hearing this, Tong Le, who was in the midst of eating, immediately placed her chopsticks down, “I’m done, I’m done. I don’t even know how many calories I ate today, my teacher’s gonna yell at me!”
This was the sadness of female artists.
Looking at her slender arms and legs, Xie Yan slightly frowned with a complicated expression on his face.
“After Su Shen’s dinner, I got to work out for three hours to offset the calories.” Li Hao also put down his chopsticks and drank a big mouthful of Coke.
Only Zhao Tong was still eating, he didn’t need to diet or keep fit anyways. He could eat as much as he wanted to.
The table full of food didn’t have much leftover. Su Shen wanted to throw them away but Wang Cheng enthusiastically said it was too much of a waste and insisted for her to pack up the pastries for him to take away.
As he had another work arrangement tonight, Wang Cheng didn’t stay too long at Su Shen’s and left with Li Hao. He had one arm over Li Hao’s shoulder while another hand rubbed his belly saying he needed to go work out.
As he left, he carried that box of pastries.
When Su Shen and Tong Le came out of the kitchen after washing the dishes, they saw Zhao Tong lying on the sofa motionless with a small curvature of his stomach to be seen.
Only Xie Yan was there playing on his laptop. Tong Le had to go back to school and Su Shen didn’t want to rudely press Xie Yan to leave either. Thus, she went to remove her makeup then changed into leisure clothes and came back out.
“Do you guys need a digestive pill?” She asked as she went to make two cups of green tea.
“I’m already done for, gotta go first.” Zhao Tong tactfully hugged his stomach as he stood up, as if to leave.
Su Shen held the two cups of tea and looked at Xie Yan in a daze. Seeing as he didn’t seem to plan on leaving, she then handed him the cup of tea.
Xiao Zhou had also left, leaving just the two of them in the entire condo. Xie Yan closed his laptop and took a sip of the tea that she had brought over, “Dragon Well tea?”
“Correct.” Su Shen smiled and sat on the other end of the sofa.
Perhaps due to the influence of her past life, she liked to collect various kinds of tea but she seldom drank them. However, seeing as Xie Yan drank tea so often, he seemed to be quite knowledgeable with tea.
“I’ll get going.” He stood up and took his coat that was on the sofa.
Su Shen didn’t expect for him to leave so suddenly and immediately stood up, “I’ll see you off.”
“No, it’s alright.” He took his coat and phone, and walked out the door.
Su Shen immediately followed and courteously laughed, “If the food wasn’t to your taste, I hope you didn’t mind.”
He paused his hand that was on the door knob and slowly turned around. He looked down and looked at her earnestly, “How do you know if it’s not to my taste?”
Their eyes met. He had this same look again. Su Shen looked away from him with a peculiar expression on her lustrous face, “As long as you like it.”
She changed into a set of pink loungewear with baggy sleeves. It was possible to imagine how slender her arms were yet she still wanted to diet? He shifted his gaze and saw her bare face turned to the side, eyes blinking yet wouldn’t look at him. Xie Yan took a step forward and leaned in, “Then do you like it?”
Su Shen was startled by how close he got and subconsciously stepped back with eyes still wandering, “I made it so no matter how bad it was, I’ll still like it.”
He pursed his lips and said, “Then what if I really like your cooking?”