Word count: 3835
Chocolate and Rose
She moved to the front of a cake, this piece of cake looked a little black, it seemed like a chocolate cake, but the looking at the texture and the smell that its producing, Lin Ke Song could tell that it wasn’t. She first used a knife to cut the cake open and made sure that there weren’t any fillings, then Lin Ke Song cut a piece as she would normally.
When the sweet fragrance and some waxy texture bloomed in her mouth, she was totally stunned.
Really never thought that carrot could actually be used to make cake, and such delicious cake too!
Lin Ke Song wrote in the tablet: carrot, medium gluten flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder, egg, white sugar, apple, walnut, raisins, ginger, clove, pepper, nutmeg.
As she wrote, she was shocked, didn’t think that an ordinary cake would use so many spices and ingredients!
No matter how unique the texture and flavour, there was a lingering fragrance, that did not match the product ah!
But to make the carrot and flavours of ginger, pepper and nutmeg blend together, there still needs to be a little something……
What is it?
When Lin Ke Song frowned to think, the tablet displayed that her name had dropped to the sixth place again.
This was really a race ah!
Stay calm, Lin Ke Song!
She took a deep breath, and told herself not to bother about what was happening around her, including her placing, the discussion noise of the audience, and the host’s intentionally agitating words to keep the atmosphere on set high.
How could she have forgotten salt?
in many people’s thought process, cakes should be sweet, so they won’t think that there will actually be salt included!
After she wrote down “salt”, she suddenly had a thought before submission about the impossibility of the lack of oil when creating a cake.
What oil was used here? Butter? Olive oil?
Heavens ah! this isn’t easily tasted!
Lin Ke Song could only consider according to the density of the cake and texture and fragrance.
This wasn’t the fragrance of butter, neither was it the fragrance of the olive oil…… what other oils can be used to bake cakes?
Definitely not peanut oil or soybean oil, and definitely not sesame oil……
It’s sunflower seed oil!
Even though Lin Ke Song had some hesitation, she still submitted her answers.
The system displayed that her answer was correct, and in an instant, she rose from the sixth place to the fourth. She knew, that there was definitely one of the participants who was rank above her before who had given a wrong answer, which made their rank drop.
Lin Ke Song released a breath of air and continued tasting the other foods. They included Mexican sauces, a beef pastry that was stuffed with mushrooms and had complicated seasonings, French-styled pan-fried lamb, Chinese prawn dumplings, and plain noodles, etc.
Her ranking suddenly dropped to third last because she mistook the yellow sugar in the creamy English muffins for white sugar, then she consecutively tasted the ratatouille, lasagne, and stuffing filled roasted bell pepper and rose back to the fourth place.
She had seen almost all of the desserts and dishes in the cooking book that Jiang Qian Fan had given her.
But every single thing wasn’t in accordance with the book or to be more accurate, there was always something that was out of the ordinary.
But this kind or extraordinariness wasn’t unconventional, but instead, allow the layers of flavours reach new heights.
If it were not for this competition, Lin Ke Song doubted that she would embrace it with open arms, what was more attractive than the uncountable delicacies in front of her?
When Annalise lifted her wrist to ring her fork against the wineglass, it was to signify that there was only a minute left.
A minute to Lin Ke Song allowed her to taste at least another 2 dishes.
Some participants had already slowed down their tasting speeds, and were becoming more cautious.
This period of time was where the ranking would make the greatest jumps and falls. A moment of carelessness, can make you fall from heaven to hell.
Lin Ke Song knew, the difference between everyone was only but a gap.
Lin Ke Song decided to take a gamble.
She successfully tasted the spring pasta and nice scones, reached the third rank.
There were 20 seconds left.
Should she just be satisfied with the third place…… or grab hold of this last chance?
Lin Ke Song’s gaze floated over the dishes that had yet to be tasted and was focused on a plate of jelly.
It’s glow, it’s translucency reminded Lin Ke Song of that frozen peas shrimp Jiang Qian Fan made.
Her tongue still remembered it’s taste, that unique smoothness, perfect harmony, like it was locking the original flavours of the ingredients.
Lin Ke Song decided to pick up the jelly, cut a piece from the middle, and place it in her mouth.
The main ingredient of the jelly was the rich soup that was broiled from pig’s skin. But this dish’s main lead wasn’t the shrimp and peas, but scallop. It was the garlic that was slightly fried that made such a unique fragrance. There was also shredded bamboo shoots, egg whites, salt, pepper and cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric powder, strong but not spicy. And the cold jelly had a sea flavour that was wrapping the scallops, revealing a thick seaside style on the tongue.
There was definitely something that was broiled with the pig skin…… this ingredient comes from the oceans.
What was it? Kelp? Seaweed?
Lin Ke Song kept thinking about it in her head, the time for the conclusion of the competition was coming.
When a particular ingredient flashed through her mind, she wrote it down without hesitation: Sea cucumber.
At the moment she pressed submit, her uneasiness felt like it was bursting through her chest.
When she saw her rank rise from the third to second, her whole person was like a fire arrow almost jumping up.
Even her uncle in the audience stood up to applaud, the red banner was even more eye-catching.
Annalise clapped her hands, to signal everyone to quieten, and introduced the participants starting from the tenth place as shown on the scoreboard behind her.
The introductions of the third place were for Goto Nozomi from Japan. He was an international student in America, younger than Lin Ke Song by 2 years, and had a stern face, that made people respect and keep a distance.
“Goto Nozomi has always surprised me, because he has always maintained the top 5 ranking, without many fluctuations, and in the last 5 minutes rose from the 5th place to the 3rd place. If I were you guys, I would keep an eye out for this cool and calm competitor.”
Lin Ke Song looked at the back of Goto Nozomi, this chap’s posture was pencil straight and looked like he had quite the manner.
“The second place, is Lin Ke Song from China! But the fact that she can continue answering in the last 20 seconds, is bravery and courage worthy of admiration. After all, if the answer was wrong in this 20 seconds, her ranking could have plummeted. So many participants who were satisfied with their ranking chose to give up continuously tasting. Even though I’m not a professional judge, as a host of this competition, I’ve got my eye on you oh!”
Lin Ke Song smiled sheepishly.
Then who was the 1st place?
Lin Ke Song really wanted to know, just who was it who had such a sensitive sense of taste?
“Lastly, I introduce to you the champion of the first round of competitions, who also received 10 full points, contestant Timothy Viktor!”
When the screen showed a young and innocent face, passionate applause sounded.
“Viktor, tell everyone your age!”
“16 years old.”
The Viktor on the screen revealed an innocent smiling face. Emerald eyes, light brown hair, a tall nose and some shy dimples, made people feel full of love in an instant.
“16 years? You’re 16 years old only!” Annalise looked at the audience, “”Has anyone counted the number of foods there are in front of every competitor?”
Many necks in the audience were lengthened, fingers reaching out to count.
“There’re a total of 100 kinds, no more no less. But Viktor tasted through 90 kinds! This averages out to Viktor being able to discern all the ingredients in a dish in 20 seconds. Don’t underestimate the foods here, no matter the simplest pudding, they all have a hidden secret weapon.” Annalise hugged her arms, and looked at Viktor with a weird expression, “I’m really curious now, what did you do to make the judges choose you to be the top 10 in the rotten tomatoes?”
Viktor embarrassedly rubbed his nose, that kind of adorableness attracted all the attention of the audience.
“On the audition day, I was dragged along by a friend for company. his cooking skills are greatly better than mine, I just didn’t think that I would be chosen because of how terrible the food tasted. This teaches us, that you don’t have to do well, and that sometimes being terrible can be a kind of opportunity.”
The audience started laughing.
“Viktor, you haven’t explained the reason for your godspeed improvement!”
“Haha! It’s because my mentor is very amazing ah!” Viktor fluttered his eyes.
“Great, then we’ll wait for you to reveal your mystery mentor when you enter the top 3!”
Lin Ke Song looked at Viktor, this young man looked very confident, his expression didn’t look like he was competing in a competition, just the activeness of a teenager.
Even though they hadn’t even exchanged words, Lin Ke Song could faintly feel several levels of a genius aura from him.
Annalise announced the end of the first round of competitions for “Master’s show”.
Even though Viktor had extraordinary results, Lin Ke Song’s results shouldn’t be underestimated and has caught the eye of many a competitor.
“The next round of competitions will be a day later. Which is this Wednesday, it will be held at the same time as today, participants, be careful to not oversleep! Today’s competition is only the beginning, and can’t even be considered difficult. This Wednesday, the judges, and audience will see your true prowess. No matter if you are satisfied with your results today, the next round of competitions will probably reshuffle the ranks. Good luck to each and every one of you!”
When Lin Ke Song left the competition grounds, Uncle and his friends excitedly lifted her up.
She let out a stunned breath and every time she was thrown to the highest point in the air, she searched the leaving crowd for a certain figure.
But she was disappointed every time.
Jiang Qian Fan will not come to this kind of place.
He has many important things to do. His new restaurant was already in operation, he will be very busy.
And the other competitor’s mentors weren’t on set either.
Just as the group of friends and family let Lin Ke Song down, she could have a stable standing because her mind was somewhere else, and almost fell flat on the ground.
Someone stood in front of her, and Lin Ke Song’s head knocked into the other party’s arms, a warm hand supporting her shoulder, hugging her gently.
“What are you thinking about?”
The warm breath followed the slow voice of the other party, lingering by her ear.
“Or, who are you thinking about?” the lengthen tone of words was distracting.
“Song Yi Ran!” Lin Ke Song lifted her face, and face his smiling face and sparkling eyes.
“Hey, you said my full name, is there something you’re upset about?”
“How is that possible!” Lin Ke Song hit his shoulder, “I just didn’t think that you’d really come!”
“You are very serious about this competition, so I definitely have to support you. What did you think I was gonna do otherwise?”
“order a bouquet online, then choose the ‘pay upon delivery’ option. Brew a pot of coffee, kick your legs, bask in the sun, and wait for me to call you in tears when I flunk the competition.” Lin Ke Song said happily.
Song Yi Ran lifted a good-looking brow: “Am I this kind of guy in your eyes?”
“In my heart, you are a toxic bad friend. But pretty reliable at the most crucial time!”
Song Yi Ran chuckled lightly.
“Let’s go ba! Go home Ke Song! Uncle has missed you for this past 3 months! Let Uncle show you a hand or two! But I’m afraid that after you’re used to the great chef’s cooking, Uncle’s dishes wouldn’t be delicious anymore!”
“How is that possible! I’ve missed Uncle’s stir-fried beef to death!”
“I knew you’d missed that!” Uncle looked at Song Yi Ran and said, “Yi Ran, join us too ba!”
“Of course, but I miss the soybeans stewed pig feet to death.”
Lin Ke Song looked at Song Yi Ran, and totally couldn’t imagine how this chap would look like eating pig’s feet.
Returning to her little bird cage, the smell of the room was so familiar, her attentive Uncle had even helped her change the bedsheets already, burying her head in, she could smell that thick smell that belonged to the sun.
Even with her face buried into the blankets, all that was in Lin Ke Song’s mind was Jiang Qian Fan.
After the editing of the footage, this competition will be broadcasted tomorrow night.
But the competition committee would have probably already notified him about the results of the competition.
Will he be satisfied with her results?
Jiang Qian Fan is a person who pursues perfection, would he think that she should’ve gotten first place instead?
Not right not right, he is a person who doesn’t look at reputation, his pursuit of perfection is about taste, and not a moment’s loss or win.
“Ke Song, food’s ready! Hurry come and eat!”
Lin Ke Song leaped to the dining table, Uncle placed the plates on the table, and Song Yi Ran was actually setting the bowls and chopsticks, looking naturally like the image of a family.
There were little sounds of high heels running down the stairs.
No need to wonder, Lin Ke Song knew that it was Lin Xiao Xue.
She pushed the door open, and her eyes lighted up the moment she saw Song Yi Ran’s back.
“Cousin! I heard that you placed 2nd in the competition! That’s amazing ah! what dish did you make?”
Lin Xiao Xue was like before, directly getting close to Song Yi Ran, but using roundabout tactics, and getting to Lin Ke Song’s side, acting like she was very close to her cousin.
“Didn’t you have nothing on this morning? Doing whatever with your hair with your friend, why don’t you go watch your cousin’s competition.” Uncle savagely tore through her disguise.
Lin Xiao Xue hurriedly put her arm on Lin Ke Song’s shoulder, and sat with her at the table, and said with an intimate tone: “I’d already book the appointment to do my hair way earlier, if I didn’t go, then I don’t know when is the next time I’ll be able to make an appointment. Cousin, you aren’t angry ba?”
Lin Xiao Xue’s was fluttering her eyelashes at Lin Ke Song, Lin Ke Song found it inexplicably funny.
No matter how you look at the eyelashes, they were fake, Lin Ke Song wasn’t really sure if guys would like this kind of hypocritical thing?
“It’s not a problem, there are still many rounds of competition left.”
“Is that so ah! I heard that this competition will be a variety show and be broadcasted, then let me take cousin to get a more glamourous hairstyle!” Lin Xiao Xue was suddenly in high spirits.
“Actually, Ke Song looks pretty good like that. It’s short hair, no matter how you do it, it can’t get any more different.” Song Yi Ran smiled saying.
Lin Ke Song had the feeling of being rescued, it’s still Song Yi Ran that understands her best. She hates sitting at the salon and doing nothing that most, spending half a day perming or dyeing hair. When she was at university, she had gone to do her hair once, and it was done by some hairstylist that was awarded some price or something. After a whole day of torture, the other party gave Lin Ke Song a “trendy”, “avant-garde” hairstyle way beyond her imagination. The hairstylist was very satisfied with their own work, and this “Art” also cost Lin Ke Song half a month’s worth of living expenses.
In the end, by the time the week ended, Lin Ke Song had become the joke of her dorm, and had an increase in “nicknames”. What braised lion head, mutated sheep, smart and what not. Every time Song Yi Ran looked at her, he had the expression of uncontrollable laughter. In the end, out of brotherhood, he pulled her to the hair shop in front of the school, and only spent a hundred yuan to straighten the hair and cut it to a pixie style. That experience had totally left a trauma in Lin Ke Song’s heart.
“Then, cousin, grow your hair out! Then we can go together!”
Lin Ke Song laughed. Wait for her hair to grow out? Then it’d be a “long long” time later ba?
This meal was one that Lin Ke Song thought was eaten in comfort, the piping hot rice, the familiar homecooked taste, Lin Ke Song ate 2 large consecutive bowls of food, scaring Lin Xiao Xue stunned.
At the table, Song Yi Ran and Uncle Lin started chatting.
“Yi Ran ah, I called Ke Song’s parents a couple days back, they asked me to take note of the happenings in school. I’ve been here for a very long time, but I don’t know a thing about choosing schools, Xiao Xue isn’t reliable either. Yi Ran, you are more experienced and know Ke Song, so help her think about school stuff ba!”
“This ah, I’ve already talked to Ke Song about this before, to get her to study at the same school as me, but I dunno if she’d be willing.”
Lin Ke Song took a glance at Song Yi Ran, and wondered if this chap’s major was in people.
“Is that so! That’d be great! I and her parents can be relieved now! I’ll leave Ke Song in your hands, come, let me pour you a cup!”
Lin Ke Song looked at her uncle’s posture, something doesn’t look right.
It feels like this is marrying her away ah!
“You’re welcome, Uncle, Let’s drink together!”
Song Yi Ran and Uncle Lin clinked cups?
Brother, don’t you know that this isn’t water but Erguotou ah!
This posture, why did it look like one of a future son-in-law?
After the meal, Lin Ke Song helped her uncle clear the utensils, and with a turn of her head, she realised that Song Yi Ran had disappeared.
Returning to her room, she realised that he was actually unpacking her luggage.
Her family photo was placed at the head of the bed, her outerwear hung in the closet. Even her messily stuffed in shirts were rearranged so well by Song Yi Ran they looked like as straight as if they’d just been bought from the shopping centre.
When he pulled out her bag of underwear, Lin Ke Song immediately flung herself forward, “Let me unpack this myself! Myself!”
“Oh…… I know now, dirty laundry that you have washed for a few days?” Song Yi Ran hugged his arm and leaned against the wall, smiling at Lin Ke Song.
His smile was as attractive as before, asking for a beating,
“You think I’m you ah? wear new clothes once to throw them away?”
“I didn’t throw them away. And I’m definitely more diligent than you!”
“haha.” Lin Ke Song stuffed that bag into the drawers and closed them properly.
“If you don’t believe, then come to my house to take a look ah.”
“You think I’m so crazy to go to your house to see if you’ve washed your underwear?”
“I thought you would really want to have a look ah.” Song Yi Ran had an expression of “Isn’t it like that?”.
Lin Ke Song found it atrocious yet funny, like they had returned to the times where they were messing with each other in university. Even if 800 hundred years were to pass, she and Song Yi Ran will probably never change.
“I’m tired, imma nap here for a bit.”
With that, Song Yi Ran laid on Lin Ke Song’s bed, turned one round and took all of the blankets away. That action was like Lin Ke Song’s room was his home.
“Hey, if you sleep here, then where do I sleep?” Lin Ke Song snappily pushed his shoulders.
Song Yi Ran shamelessly patted at the space behind him.
“Sleep ba sleep ba! Sleep to death!” Lin Ke Song returned to her luggage, opening the other compartment, and took out a notebook.
That was the record of her experience when she was with Jiang Qian Fan.
With his back facing her, Song Yi Ran said with a sleepy voice: “when the competition ends…… study with me ba.”
Lin Ke Song turned her head, looked at the back of Song Yi Ran’s head that was peeking out of the blankets, a little lonely.
So if I’m not by your side, you too will get lonely.
At this time, Lin Xiao Xue’s voice sounded from outside the door: “Cousin! There’s an express delivery for you!”
“an express delivery?” Lin Ke Song was suspicious.
Maybe it’s sent by her parents? But if it were them, they would have chosen shipping and not express delivery ah……the delivery fee itself will be more expensive than the stuff……
When the door was just opened, Lin Xiao Xue’s gaze darted in. when she saw that Song Yi Ran was on Lin Ke Song’s bed, her expression turned ugly.
“Where’s the express delivery?”
“Downstairs.” Lin Xiao Xue’s tone wasn’t as intimate as it was during the meal anymore.
Lin Ke Song couldn’t be bothered with her, and went straight down to sign for the express delivery. The address was written in English, the writing foreign, a closer look told her that it was the address of Jiang Qian Fan’s villa.
He actually sent something to her.
What was it?
That feeling of the heart unable to handle it surfaced again. Like Jiang Qian Fan was by her side.
She found a knife, cut open the carton, and there was a paper box in it.
Opening the box, and there were actually chocolates in it!
At the top of the chocolate was a white baby rose. Lin Ke Song picked it up, then realised that it looked like the climbing roses that were in Jiang Qian Fan’s courtyard!