Word count: 1841
From a Grain of Sand to the World (I)
“Thank you.” Jiang Qian Fan replied.
It was once again Winston’s turn to announce the results of the vote.
He looked at the card in his hand; the results were as expected.
“There are fifteen people who voted for Jiang Qian Fan and Lin Ke Song, while ten people expressed their preference for the desserts made by the Quentin chefs.”
Winston glanced around. By now, almost everyone could guess what the result of this round was.
“Presently, Jiang Qian Fan and Lin Ke Song are in the lead. However, we still have one last dessert dish that has not been tasted. A good chef will not place focus on whether the end result is a victory or defeat, but rather, will single-mindedly prioritise making the perfect dish. The same is true today. Therefore, could everyone please be patient and await the most common and important dessert——blueberry pie!”
As soon as his voice fell, applause sounded out. This round’s level of excitement had already exceeded many people’s expectations. All kinds of skills and delicate compositions had been presented. Compared to simply sitting in an expensive restaurant and listening to an elegant violin, everything at this moment was an unforgettable experience.
While the applause petered out, the staff brought out the blueberry pie.
“Ke Song, you are the youngest contestant among us today. Can you tell us what you think of this blueberry pie?” Winston personally set the plate in front of Lin Ke Song.
This made her feel somewhat flattered.
“Blueberry pie……When watching American shows in China, people who have just moved into the neighbourhood would often greet their surrounding neighbours with a personally made blueberry pie. So, I think that blueberry pie is a type of desert that relays warmth and makes people feel very close. It is an extremely common dessert, and anyone can make it as long as there is a kitchen with an oven. However, just like most of the common snacks in the streets of China, it is possible to make this ordinary dessert different and stand out in the crowd with just a little adjustment, whether it is the heat, condiments, or technique. Hence, no matter whether it’s French, Italian, German, Mexican or Chinese, there has never been only one particularly outstanding cuisine. There are only the most attentive cooking and those who taste it and feel its heart,” Lin Ke Song responded seriously.
This was what Jiang Qian Fan had always taught her.
“Okay. Now, let’s have everyone taste the blueberry pie that is the most mundane and yet most likely to exceed people’s expectations.”
Normally, people used a tray to bake the completed blueberry pie then cut it; however, Jessica and Iris made a mini blueberry pie the size of a palm. This kind of difficulty was very high since the pie was quite small and so more attention needed to be paid to the thickness of the dough. If the dough was as thick as a normal blueberry pie, then the fruit in the center would be cooked but the dough would not be. If the dough was too thin, then the outer layer might have burnt, but the heat would not have retched the blueberries inside.
Lin Ke Song’s knife touched the surface of the blueberry pie and she could cut it effortlessly. The crisp sound made her clearly that this pie had been completely successful. When she separated the blueberry pie, the filling inside was still tightly attached to the dough and did not spread.
A rich, fruity aroma that made people want to bite down on it hard wafted past their noses.
Lin Ke Song glanced at Iris. Her lips were pulled into a faint smile, as if telling Lin Ke Song that this pie was successful to the point that she would not be able to find a single flaw.
Lin Ke Song took a gentle bite. The scent of blueberries was carried by a warm feeling, and its sweet taste spread across the tip of her tongue. The crispness of the outer skin contrasted sharply with the inner softness, and the perfect amount of acidity and sweetness made her reluctant to part.
“What do you think?” Iris turned her head.
“Even if you give me a larger plate, I would still be able to finish it!” Lin Ke Song took another bite and carefully chewed it. She could not bear to swallow it.
“I like your direct way of speaking more compared to the extravagantly embellished praises of those critics. Chef Jiang Qian Fan has the most accurate taste in the industry. As his student, could you please tell me what you have tasted in this blueberry pie?”
Lin Ke Song carefully distinguished each taste within her mind. She did not rush to answer, but thought about it for a dozen seconds.
“Butter was added to the dough, and the water used for kneading was socked in mint leaves, so there’s a hint of mint in the dough. Ah! There were also pandan leaves and coconut milk! That’s why the dough is so fragrant and complements well with the scent of blueberries. It’s not sudden or abrupt at all!”
“Not bad, you could distinguish the taste of the pandan and mint leaves. We didn’t put in much. What about the filling?” Iris continued asking.
“There’s ginger in the filling! Cinnamon powder! Lime peelings! Liquor! And……” Lin Ke Song squinted.
“And what else?” Iris leaned forward slightly and seemed to be determining something.
Lin Ke Song’s lips curled up and she answered Iris in a clear voice, “There’s also a little pumpkin puree. It made the blueberry pie’s filling more sticky and softened its sweetness.”
Iris closed her eyes, then smiled and said to Jiang Qian Fan. “She has a gift similar to yours.”
“I only needed one second to distinguish all of the ingredients, but she used nearly half a minute. She is still far from me.” Jiang Qian Fan replied calmly.
“Alright, let me try the blueberry pie you two made now.”
Iris looked down at the triangular dessert on the plate. Jiang Qian Fan had used the traditional way to make a blueberry pie. Iris lifted her fork and tapped the edge of the pie. The ca ca sound indicated that the dough of this pie was not inferior to theirs.
She turned her head and scanned the side of the pie which had been cut. Nodding, she said, “From the cut surface, it can be seen that the thickness and firmness of the pie filling are perfect. The skin of the pie is not too thick or too thin. Of course, these are the basics, so it’s impossible for Chef Jiang Qian Fan to have made a mistake.”
Iris cut a small piece and lifted it into her mouth. She closed her eyes, and nodded her head slightly with every chew.
“Although it appears ordinary, I have to admit that the taste is not only perfect but also amazing. Just like we added mint to the dough, you added vanilla…” Iris tilted her head, “There’s also a bit of ginger powder…and corn flour?”
“Is it very sweet?” Lin Ke Song smiled.
“It’s indeed very fragrant. The acidity and sweetness of the filling are also quite balanced. Other than the blueberries, I also tasted oranges. However, I didn’t see any oranges in the filling so you should’ve used orange juice. There’s also a hint of brandy, which adds flavour to the blueberry and further enhances the sweetness of the orange. The orange peels were sprinkled at the very end to retain their originally fresh taste. I wish to know, who was keeping time when baking the blueberry pie?”
“Is there a problem with the time?” Lin Ke Song suddenly became nervous.
Iris looked at Lin Ke Song’s expression and couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s because the baking time was very accurate. I thought it was Chef Jiang Qian Fan, but seeing your expression, it must be you. You’ve done well, Lin Ke Song.”
Once she finished speaking, Iris extended her hand out to Lin Ke Song.
Lin Ke Song was in disbelief. Iris always had a bad impression of her, and even constantly vetoed her. Yet, today, Iris unexpectedly extended her hand out to her!
Lin Ke Song grasped her hand. She understood from the strength of Iris’ fingers that she had gained the other chef’s approval.
“Mom, do you have any comments?”
Jessica shook her head. There was no point in saying anything now. At least, Iris’ generosity could gain the respects of those at the venue.
“Chief Editor Winston, it’s time the results are announced.” Iris smiled and reminded Winston.
“Oh, I detected the dense feeling of talented people appreciating one another in the air and forgot about this!”
Winston glanced at the card in his hand and licked his lips, “I suppose this is the best conclusion to today. Both sides received five votes! The blueberry pie was actually the most simple and most difficult dish today. Both groups on this round used the most ordinary cuisine to show the highest level of cooking. Please allow me to pay respect to them.”
Finishing speaking, Winston saluted in their direction.
The audience erupted into thunderous applause.
“Today, I would like the congratulate Jiang Qian Fan and Lin Ke Song for winning today’s round with ninety-three votes. However, in the cooking industry, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no winner forever, only higher requirements. Moreover, today’s achievements only represent today. They can only represent these nine dishes, not everything.” Winston walked over to Lin Ke Song and patted her on the shoulder, “Ke Song, I know that you have a gift that other people don’t have in this industry. But regardless of what area, or what you do, in order to be a master, it is necessary to understand how to see the world form a grain of sand. You had the privilege of meeting Jiang Qian Fan, a teacher who is superb in both concept and skill, and had the opportunity to compete with Jessica and other experts like Iris. Maybe you’ll feel that you’re quite lucky, and understand that you have higher talent than others. However, everything from today is just a grain of sand. It is not enough to understand the world from a grain of sand simply by relying on your talent.”
“I understand. Thank you, Chief Editor Winston!”
Lin Ke Song moved forwards and hugged him.
Montgomery and the other chefs at the honoured guests table all began to applaud.
In a flash, she suddenly recalled the scene of her participating in the pre-selections of the Master’s Show. At that time, she not only did not know how to cook tomato and scrambled eggs well, she did not even know what exactly she wanted to do.
As for now, she had discovered a field she loved and also found her own path.