Word Count: 3734
“Preparation method: preheat oven to 200 °C. bake the pumpkin in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the pumpkin becomes soft.”
“Ke Song, why do we have to bake the pumpkin?”
Lin Ke Song thought about it, seeing the image of a pumpkin being baked in her mind, and suddenly understood: “to maintain the freshness and soft texture of the pumpkin. This way, we can avoid over cooking while boiling the pumpkin, leading to the loss and spoilage of texture and softness.”
“so?” Jiang Qian Fan asked lightly.
At that moment, Lin Ke Song came around.
“So it’s the same for the carrot soup! I should’ve used butter to slightly fry the carrots then put them into the oven till they become soft!”
“En.” Jiang Qian Fan slowly turned to face her, “Ke Song, it’s a very easy thing to learn to make any dish. As long as you have the recipe, or a demonstration, with your memory, you will remember them all easily. No matter how good Bruce made his food, it was all only a repetition of his mentor’s cooking process.”
Was this him helping her analyse her opponent?
“If it were a dish you guys have never seen before, or tasked to make a dish perfectly without having seen the recipe or ingredients, do you know what you should do?”
“I do not.”
“The first step, is to do a taste deconstruction. To find those ingredients you can see, and still not let you and your opponents differentiate. On the contrary, those whose sense of taste that are weaker will be unable to recognise which flavours belong to which ingredients, you will have to depends on your taste buds. In this regard, you’re far stronger than Bruce.”
Lin Ke Song blinked her eyes, was Jiang Qian Fan praising her?
“The second step, is process deconstruction. Every dish’s fusion of the ingredients, the cooking method. Apart from observing the presentation of the food’s form and colour, you need to distinguish if the dish was fried, baked or charcoaled. When each seasoning or pairing ingredient was added, all depends on you tasting in detail. Apart from your taste buds, you need to have the ability to think, to attack three folds back, and even experience. If you only learn to make certain dishes, and you yourself are unable to think about why each step is done, you will forever know how to make those few dishes, and lack the ability to explore yourself. This world has thousands of thousands of ingredients combinations, does it mean that if I never teach you the recipe, you’d be unable to cook those dishes?”
So, Jiang Qian Fan was saying, this method of teaching was to let her be able to think for herself.
Bruce looked outstanding, but it was only doing all the things that his mentor had taught him to.
“The third step, is to master the degree. Some foods, people may find delicious, because of the balance of the taste and texture. These need not only experience, but also the ability to control the cooking duration, the control of weight, and even the prediction of the thickness or thinness when cutting the ingredients. These, need experience. You lack experience, same as the other participants, you are all on the same running track, there is no further need to talk about your more sensitive sense of taste compared to the others, so I totally do not understand your reason of self-deprecation.”
He said it like she was self-deprecating, but he was actually acknowledging her.
“Thank you, Mr Jiang.”
“Do you have any other questions?”
Jiang Qian Fan raised his chin slightly. His side profile gave off an extreme sense of beauty under the soft light.
Lin Ke Song went silent, but she had no way to restrain the question in her heart.
“Then, what if I lose? What if I don’t enter top three, and can’t even enter top six?”
“Do you like cooking?”
“What I refer to is not expending all your energies to be passionate for it. So, you acknowledge that it is a form of art? Do you feel that you are respecting it?”
“Yes, I acknowledge that.”
Lin Ke Song was totally sure of that answer.
“Then I am very pleased. It’s not important whether it’s a loss or win, Ke Song. No one can use your one-time victory to critic my life. And no one can use your one time win or loss to define your talent. If you like the things that I make you do, then properly enjoy the process. It is only one activity that you enjoy doing.”
“then…… what about you, Mr Jiang?”
“do you think that for the month that you’ve spent beside me, you’ve made no improvements at all?”
Lin Ke Song did not know where the extent of her improvements reached.
“You have learned to deconstruct the tastes of food, many great chefs exchange years of experience for this ability, and it fell into your hands. You learned to pursue perfection in failure. Like your mushroom pork noodles, and the carrot cream soup yesterday. Your greatest improvement, is not being like an average person, thinking that a delicious food is plainly delicious. I enjoy the process of teaching you.”
Jiang Qian Fan picked up a napkin, and wiped the corners of his mouth, stood up: “Let’s go ba.”
“Of course it’s to the kitchen. Since you already have the sense of urgency, then we will start to learn the real thing.”
Lin Ke Song looked to Mayer who was standing at the side, Mayer nodded at her, and took the tablet.
She followed behind, and walked through the long corridor. Everything was the same as before, but something was quietly changing.
It was only the view of a back, but it was tall and straight as the mountains, and yet like the clouds that were difficult to touch, it looked like it was still and wandering.
As long as it was following behind him, it would produce a desire to chase.
This kind of man, had hugged her so tightly.
When Jiang Qian Fan opened the door of the kitchen, Lin Ke Song knew that there was one last question, if she did not clear it up, this question will turn rivers and overturn oceans in her head, and she would never be able to do another thing without thinking about it.
“Why did you kiss me yesterday?”
When she asked that out loud, her heart was practically bursting through the roof.
Her voice echoed, everything became stillness.
Jiang Qian Fan might lift his cane to knock her head.
But his pace was calm without change.
Only when he reached the front of the counter, did he turn around to lean on it.
Lin Ke Song hardly sees him in such a relaxed posture. He stood under the light, without any intention to avoid or hide himself, his quiet eyebrows did not need any extra expressions to touch people.
“Because I’ve never told you that, I like you.”
Everything quietened down, but it felt like there was wind whistling past Lin Ke Song’s ears, tugging her hair, taking all of her away.
Whatever Jiang Qian Fan said, every word, every sentence, was crystal clear.
“What?” she tilted her head, felt like the words “like you” had a greater impact than yesterday’s kiss.
To kiss a person, is but an action.
To say “I like you” is to label the action.
“because I’ve never told you that, I like you.”
Whenever Jiang Qian Fan spoke, he hardly repeated himself. His voice was very pretty, ethereal and sorrowful.
“You…… how can you like me?”
Lin Ke Song felt that she was sleepwalking. She should give a painful pinch to her thigh!
Jiang Qian Fan liked her? Like what? Like how? Why would he like?
Lin KE Song had originally thought of getting an answer to a question, didn’t think that she would incur more questions instead.
“like you more than all the people around you. Now you should be more confident.”
Lin Ke Song was about to tear.
Sometimes, Jiang Qian Fan’s logic is very frightening. For example, the main point of this conversation was probably “confident”, and not “like you”. Because no matter the viewpoint, Lin KE Song could not believe that Jiang Qian Fan would “like” anyone, needless to say that the person is her. This wasn’t from the lack of confidence, but her understanding of him. She was even suspicious, of whether the big ice block would understand what it meant by “like”!
Jiang Qian Fan had counter her question before, asking whether he wasn’t encompassing enough, but like and the kiss and whatever, is totally out of the world!
But Jiang Qian Fan had already offered his “like you”, to help her gain more confidence, he’s really given his all!
“Mr Jiang! I’m thankful for your liking towards me! But you shouldn’t just kiss me! You are a guy, I am a girl, and…… yesterday’s kiss and the game’s kiss is totally different! You doing this……”
Lin Ke Song wanted to say that it was “barbaric behaviour”, but who has ever seen such handsome, such elegant disposition, and all with a serious face “gangster”?
“You like it when I kiss you, isn’t that right?” Jiang Qian Fan asked gently.
Instantly, the feel of Jiang Qian Fan’s tongue, his overbearing and strength, and even the feeling of sliding across her teeth entered her head again.
“…… never!” Lin Ke Song retorted without thought.
Again! Again! The big ice block’s killing move of “lies”! Such great stabbing effect!
“How many people have received that kind of kiss?” Lin Ke Song retorted in anger.
Her lips were still a little swollen when she was brushing her teeth this morning.
“If that didn’t happen, you would still definitely be thinking that you were not up to par with Bruce, or thinking of ways to hurt yourself to drop out of the competition and what not. At least you’re now thinking of my kiss, and not any other rubbish.”
Jiang Qian Fan had already turned around, and gone to the refrigerator, choosing steak.
Indeed, she hadn’t been thinking about what Iris had said for the whole night, but Jiang Qian Fan.
This was obviously more serious than Iris ba!
“Mr Jiang, let not this kind of thing happen again in the future…… I believe that no matter how depressed I am, I would still be able to moderate my mood.” Lin Ke Song seriously said.
Jiang Qian Fan’s eyebrows raised up.
“If you were really confident, you wouldn’t have this kind of thoughts.”
“Mr Jiang, the main point is that I don’t actually like you!”
Lin Ke Song was a clear-cut person, like means like, don’t like means don’t like. Notwithstanding that Jiang Qian Fan was her mentor.
“You answer too quickly, are eager to draw lines, this shows your hastiness. I’ve never said that you had to like me back, so what are you so anxious for? To like or dislike a person, isn’t making a stand.”
Just as Lin KE Song was squeezing brain juice to understand Jiang Qian Fan’s logic, Jiang Qian Fan had already started to cook the steak.
He lowered his head, it was also his best posture when his eyebrows were tilted down.
“And, even if you clamour about not liking, it doesn’t represent tomorrow, and it doesn’t represent the future. Now, put aside my liking of you, focus on what you should be doing well.”
Lin KE Song looked at him, her brain was unable to process anything else.
When he presented an exquisite plate of steak in front of Lin Ke Song.
“have a taste, then make it again yourself.”
Jiang Qian Fan’s expression was as usual, like the “confession” from before was no big deal.
Lin Ke Song took a breath, she knew that from now on, Jiang Qian Fan was going to start teaching her seriously.
If she were to continue deliberating and having all sorts of thoughts, Jiang Qian Fan would probably really use the cane to knock her head.
Lin Ke Song picked up the knife and fork, and sliced a small piece, and put it in her mouth.
“Steak is the most indispensable part of all western foods, no matter French or Italian cuisine, they all can’t not have it. This is America, if you wish to win the acknowledgment of the critics here, then start with steak first. To those out of the industry, steak is only about pan frying in the pan, and sprinkle some garnish or some sauce and consider it done, but in fact, it tests a chef’s cooking skill. Heat, seasoning, time and selection of ingredients, as long as there is one aspect one is careless about, the taste of steak would lose balance.”
Jiang Qian Fan leaned on the counter, folding his arms, he’d already totally entered teaching mode.
Lin Ke Song knew, if she continued being caught up in that sentence of “like you” and that kiss, she would totally waste this portion of steak that Jiang Qian Fan had made for her, and was also a disrespect to his vocation.
She was the best at temporarily putting away things that shouldn’t be in dispute, and focusing on what should be done.
She picked out a knife and fork, bent slightly, and had a whiff of the flavour of this steak.
The fragrance of the beef was very rich, but there was no sense of stink at all.
The scents of the seasonings brought out the rich fragrance of the beef even more, and there was a sour smell that didn’t seem to be there, it seemed to smell like vinegar.
The beef was already cut into uniform pieces.
Lin Ke Song forked a piece, the outer appearance of the beef was fried and slightly charred, but the inner part was glowing pink, this was the standard medium to medium rare.
The moment the beef touched the teeth, it was full of flexibility, but there were levels of flavours.
Lin Ke Song identified the ingredients bit by bit.
There were the flavours of rosemary, salt, black pepper, and some kind vinegar. This kind of vinegar wasn’t the white vinegar or vinegar used with dumplings that Lin Ke Song was familiar with, but another kind of flavour.
The side dish used arugula and some form of cheese.
Lin Ke Song tasted carefully, and didn’t feel and other ingredients or seasonings.
Which was to say, this steak did not use fancy cooking methods, and didn’t use too much spices and condiments.
Its delicious flavour, was only because of Jiang Qian Fan’s highly skilled technique that locked the juiciness in, the ingredients were added at just the right time and the fire was controlled just right. She studied the thickness of the steak, and the colour it presented, she had to keep in mind, if she wanted to reach this kind of texture, when the steak presented this colour, she had to do just enough.
She went to the many seasonings, and lowered her head to smell them, carefully tasting, and found parmesan cheese and Italian balsamic vinegar, according to her memory.
Then she chose the beef. As per the texture of the beef, she knew that this piece of beef had little fat content, the texture delicate. She observed all the beef in the refrigerator, and chose a piece of beef tenderloin in the end.
When she started marinating the steak, she was a little nervous, not knowing if she had missed out anything.
Jiang Qian Fan’s words, solidified her confidence.
“You’ve found all the ingredients to make this steak, you have accomplished the first step.”
This let Lin Ke Song breathe a sigh of relief. She marinated the steak, out it in the pan to fry, seasoned, and lastly plated.
She cut a piece, had a taste. Because the juice of the steak leaked to the pan, it was a little charred, affecting the taste.
She didn’t know if it was because she didn’t pour enough olive oil into the pan or should she have changed to butter to pan fry the steak?
Lin Ke Song tried a few more times, they were all failures.
And Jiang Qian Fan only quietly sat at the side, with absolutely no intention to disturb her experiments.
After 3 to four more tries, Lin Ke Song tried a new method, putting olive oil to the steak and marinating with the rosemary, and finally preventing the stick to the pan.
But when she tasted it, she just felt that it wasn’t tasty enough, but she was sure that the marinating period was long enough.
She continuously thought about the cooking books she’d read and the methods of preparing steak she had seen in polarlights, she realised that she should plastic wrap the steak while preparing the steak, to let the spices and the olive oil and steak have sufficient contact.
When she cooked the steak the next time, she felt that the sauce wasn’t thick enough.
After experimenting with ripping the chees in the pan or adding the balsamic vinegar first and other methods, there was a niggling feeling that something wasn’t right.
She had almost used all the tenderloin that was stocked up here, there cant be anymore wastage.
Lin Ke Song pressed on the counter, thinking while looking at the frying pan.
She was a little regretful that she hadn’t looked carefully at the process when Jiang Qian Fan was cooking, but was thinking about unnecessary things.
“don’t leave the most essential things in the pan.”
Jiang Qian Fan who had been silent said.
Lin Ke Song looked over, she hadn’t realised that Jiang Qian Fan was still here.
She had already made so many portions of failed steak, according to logic, a long time should’ve’ d passed, Jiang Qian Fan was actually not bored at all?
Lin Ke Song looked at him, apart from looking cold, this man’s side profile had a kind of almost detached indifference.
“Focus, Ke Song.”
His reminder had no condescending feeling. It was like a partner who was sharing the same table while self-studying, nudging her with an arm when she was drowsy.
Lin Ke Song withdrew her gaze, and looked at the frying pan.
The base of the pan had a thin layer of the juice of the meat, that was from the steak that had been cooked before.
Lin Ke Song had a sudden realisation, and used 2 to 3 spoons of pure water, whipping up the juice from the base of the pan, simmer over a small fire, to prevent it from drying up. When the juice of the meat was thicker, she mixed the arugula in, and paired the balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese.
She had a taste, chewing gently, this tasted exactly like the one Jiang Qian Fan had made.
“Mr Jiang, have a taste.”
“En.” Jiang Qian Fan nodded, elegantly lifting the knife and fork.
Lin Ke Song started getting nervous, she grabbed her apron tightly.
The way Jiang Qian Fan lowered his head was like the petrels wandering along the rocks on the sea, so delicate and profound.
“Flavour is very balanced, the taste of the beef was properly preserved, the texture is perfectly medium to medium rare. You have done well, Ke Song.”
At that moment, Lin Ke Song had a sense of excitement. It was like suddenly getting a high mark in chemistry and physics when she’d been struggling no matter how much she worked.
“Thank you, Mr Jiang.”
“You don’t have to thank me. I pretty much didn’t teach you anything for this dish, the one you depended on was yourself.”
Lin Ke Song let out a smile.
“this is only an Italian style balsamic vinegar steak, the book says…… that its method of cooking is basic.”
“But Bruce didn’t actually cook steak at Montgomery’s birthday party right? Because he didn’t have the confidence to control the fire, this isn’t dependent on the process of imitating the mentor. It needs detailed observation and countless failures. At least you are now ahead of him in your journey.”
“So, Mr Jiang, are you still helping me find my confidence?”
“this isn’t looking for confidence, but letting you realise your own talent.”
“Alright ba, this method is very effective on me.”
At least its greatly more acceptable compared to the “I like you” and electrifying hot kiss.
“let’s take advantage of your good mood, and try a dessert.”
This day, from morning to 3 plus in the afternoon, apart from learning how to make steak, Lin Ke Song also learned under the guidance of Jiang Qian Fan, to make vanilla cream pudding and greek style cigar rolls.
Jiang Qian Fan pretty much didn’t let Lin Ke Song see himself make the dessert or the appetizer, he only let Lin Ke Song taste the end product, and let her search and fail as she wished.
Lin Ke Song was like she’d suddenly found a joy, trying different cooking methods, until she made something that was the closest to what Jiang Qian Fan had made.
It was only when it was 4pm, that Mayer reminded Jiang Qian Fan, the guests that he’d made an appointment with had already arrived, and Lin Ke Song realised that she and him hadn’t had lunch. Even so, Jiang Qian Fan had already eaten almost all that successful steak, and a portion of cigar rolls, probably shouldn’t be hungry. She herself had already tried too many failed dishes, and didn’t feel hungry either.
“Alright ba, today’s lessons are up to her. You’ve learned to make an appetizer, a main course and a dessert.”
“Yes.” Lin Ke Song revealed a smile, this was the happiest day she’d had since she became Jiang Qian Fan’s student.
“Then it’s time for the test.”
“Ah? What?” Lin Ke Song was stunned.
“Use everything you’ve learned today, to make an appetiser, main dish and dessert to treat my guests today.”
Jiang Qian Fan’s voice was calm, like it was as simple as brewing a cup of tea. Ah, that’s not right, to brew a cup of tea in front of Jiang Qian Fan is also something you must pay a lot of attention to.
Aaaaand, this marks the middle of the story!!! only 42 chapters more to go!! ｢(#Φ益 Φo)∩ sorry again for making you guys wait so long, OTZ. you must’ve been really irritated, i’d be totally irritated at a translator who made me wait so long too. ๑•́ㅿ•̀๑) ᔆᵒʳʳᵞ however, i cant promise a schedule and can only thank you for your patience.ヾ(_ _*) here’s to hopefully faster translations and shorter waits ( ﾟДﾟ)⊃旦且_(・_・ ). (it’s tea, because i dont take to wine.) Thanks for reading!! (ό‿ὸ)ﾉ
p.s. ah, and dont worry
or worry?, i’ll definitely finish the translation of this novel. ᕙ༼ ͝°益° ༽ᕗ ୧( ಠ Д ಠ )୨