Adorable Food Goddess - Chapter 123
Chapter 123: Serve
Translator: YTJS_ Editor: Perriemix
Helian Jing was in Zi Chen Palace accompanying the Emperor in a game of chess as he recounted the interesting events on his way from Ji Nan to Jin Ling. He especially enjoyed telling the Emperor of his experience in digging the soil in order to make beggars’ bird.
The Emperor occasionally let out a cheerful chuckle, finding that young chef really clever.
“Checkmate. Little Jing, you lost again,” the Emperor said.
Little Jing pouted. “Your Majesty, this match does not count. I was distracted.”
The Emperor laughed out loud. Although Little Jing was a chess addict that was terrible at the game, he was candid and delightful. Playing chess with him always interests the Emperor. If it were his other subjects, they would just humbly concede to him. It was only Little Jing that would make excuses.
“Okay, I will give you a cavalry handicap. Let’s go again,” the Emperor said generously.
“Can you give me another canon handicap?” Helian Jing wheedled.
His Majesty glared at him. Brat.
Helian Jing said confidently, “Your humble subject’s chess skills are not on par with Your Majesty’s, it is only fair to give me another canon handicap.”
The eunuchs and the palace maids standing by the side could not help but secretly laugh at the pair.
The Emperor sneered, “You’re the only person I know that would admit his weakness so proudly.”
“Your Majesty, I am simply aware of my capabilities,” Helian Jing stated with a chortle.
The Emperor laughed in amusement. It was no wonder that this young man was adored by his mother. “Then I shall give you another handicap. If you lose again, I’ll give you a severe punishment.”
Helian Jing asked cautiously, “Your Majesty, can you tell me what the punishment is first? Otherwise, I would just spend the whole game anxious and I wouldn’t be able to play well.”
“Ha! Don’t make excuses for your lousy chess skills. Come on, let’s play.”
The two royals started another round. However, even with Helian Jing’s entire attention focused on the game, he still lost.
“What excuse do you have this time?” the Emperor teased, extremely pleased with his win.
Helian Jing replied discontentedly, “Your humble subject accepts defeat wholeheartedly.”
“Your face doesn’t really say that you accept it wholeheartedly.”
Helian Jing was about to argue when a eunuch reported that the Emperor’s wife was arriving.
The Empress has a distinguished air of elegance and coquetry as she stepped into the Zi Chen Palace Hall and greeted the Emperor.
Helian Jing rose immediately to greet her.
The Emperor asked, “What brings you here?”
The Empress smiled gently and answered, “Your concubine heard that Your Majesty summoned Heavenly Residence’s Li Yao over to prepare your lunch. If it’s alright with you, I would also like to join in the meal.”
The Emperor nodded and ordered the palace servants to check on why the meal was taking so long.
“Li Yao is very particular with his cooking. This is his first time to prepare a meal for Your Majesty so he was being more thorough,” Helian Jing explained on behalf of his friend.
“Little Jing is right, Your Majesty. If you’re hungry, I can get the imperial kitchen to prepare some snacks,” the Empress suggested.
“There is no need,” the Emperor said. “I will wait. Empress, why don’t you summon the Crown Prince as well? I have not had a meal with him for quite a while.”
The Empress smiled joyously. “I will get someone to summon him this instant.”
The Crown Prince arrived about the same time as Eunuch Gao came out of the imperial kitchen, a few servants following behind him carrying several plates of food.
Eunuch Gao announced the name of each of the 18 dishes as it was laid on the table.
The Emperor looked at the food set out in front of him, amazed by how extravagant they look. The palace’s royal chefs always served him with excellent meals, but what Li Yao made far surpassed their exquisiteness.
The Empress said in wonder, “These two flying dragons are so life-like! Oh, and these flowers, what are they made of?”
Eunuch Gao was about to reply when Helian Jing interrupted, “Your Majesty, these are carved from radishes. It is Li Yao’s expertise.”
The Crown Prince, who has tasted the dish when he went to Heavenly Residence before, added, “This Carp Leaping over the Dragon Door is Li Yao’s creation and is more delicious than the original method of cooking it.”
“Your Majesty, this hot plate shiitake is also Li Yao’s creation. Try it, it tastes very unique,” Helian Jing told the Emperor with an eager smile.
Eunuch Gao used a pair of silver chopsticks to pick up the dish for His Majesty.
Another palace maid did the same for the Empress.
The Emperor took a bite. The pan-fried meat patty was crunchy and fragrant, fusing harmoniously with the soft and smooth shiitake mushroom. Its taste was unique, indeed.
“Not bad, not bad,” the Emperor complimented, nodding satisfactorily.
After trying a few dishes, His Majesty had grown impatient. He does not want to wait for Eunuch Gao to pick up the dishes for him. These foods were all so delicious that he just wanted to devour them all.
“Why is there no soup? Eunuch Gao, didn’t you tell Li Yao that His Majesty likes to drink soup?” the Empress asked.
Eunuch Gao replied, “Li Yao says that the soup would have to take a little longer.”
As if on cue, a eunuch came to palace hall carrying a Shao Xing wine vat.
Everyone was puzzled. Was Li Yao serving wine or soup?
“This is it. Your humble servant saw Li Yao make this. The procedure is so complex, I couldn’t follow it,” Eunuch Gao said with a proud smile.
Helian Jing deflated a bit. Oh no, Yaoyao. Why did you use a wine vat for soup? There are so many containers in the palace, why did you pick this one?
Helian Jing saw that everyone was disappointed with the wine vat, too. Every dish served was breathtaking so they expected for the soup to be the same.
The eunuch lifted up the bowl covering the opening and removed the lotus leaf sealing the vat. Immediately, a strong fragrance wafted through the air, following the steam.
“That smells so good…” The Empress could not help but take another whiff of the mouthwatering scent.
“Quick, scoop a bowl up for me,” His Majesty rushed urgently. He has never smelled a soup with such strong fragrance before. He could not even tell what ingredients were used to create it.
Everyone watched the Emperor with anticipation, already chomping at the bit to try the delicious-smelling soup.
“Fragrant and rich! This… this has unparalleled taste,” His Majesty complimented, in awe of the food.
The eunuch prepared three more bowls for the Empress, the Crown Prince, and Helian Jing.
“This is incredible!” Helian Jing exclaimed upon trying it. “I’ve tasted Li Yao’s cooking many times, but this is extraordinary!”
The Crown Prince laughed. “This is probably Li Yao’s hidden skill!”
“What is the name of this soup?” the Emperor asked the eunuch who served the dish.
The eunuch replied, “Your Majesty, Head Chef Li said that this soup doesn’t have a name yet. If you’d like, he said that Your Majesty should have the honor of naming it.”
The Empress suggested, “Your Majesty, why don’t you summon Li Yao to the palace hall?”
Ye Jiayao has been standing outside, waiting to be summoned, when Eunuch Gao came out and said, “Head Chef Li, His Majesty wants you in the palace hall.”
“Is His Majesty satisfied with today’s lunch?” Ye Jiayao asked softly.
Eunuch Gao beamed. “Extremely satisfied. Head Chef Li, this is your good luck.”
Ye Jiayao heaved a silent sigh of relief. She has done her absolute best today, but she was still unsure. Every palate has different preferences and it was entirely possible that the Emperor would not be impressed with her cooking. Not to mention that this place was where the most skillful chefs gather. Everyone here has excellent skills.
When she entered the palace hall, Ye Jiayao kept her head down, not daring to look anywhere else. Although she really wanted to see the Emperor, she restrained herself. If she somehow offended him, no one could stop him from chopping her head off.
“Your humble commoner, Li Yao, greets Your Majesty and Her Highness. I wish Your Majesty an everlasting fortune and a life as long as the sky. Long live, Your Majesty. Her Highness, I wish you everlasting beauty and good health. Long live, Her Highness,” Ye Jiayao greeted, kowtowing respectfully.
Helian Jing tried to suppress his laughter. Yaoyao has already started bootlicking.
It was the first time that the Emperor and the Empress have heard such novel greeting and they enjoyed them.
“Li Yao, is this soup your creation?” His Majesty asked amiably.
Ye Jiayao said honestly, “This soup is an improved version of what I saw from the locals when I traveled the coast of Li Nan Sea.”
His Majesty grew fonder of Li Yao after hearing that. He could have easily said that it was his creation and no one would doubt it. He could become even more famous for this alone, and yet he opted to tell the truth.
“The same dish but different taste, right? That’s because of the effort. Li Yao, today, I have seen your effort,” the Emperor said.
“Your humble commoner’s teacher has always taught me that every ingredient has its unique taste. As long as one knows the characteristics of each ingredient and one puts in the effort, they can create unlimited delicacies. This was just like how a musician’s audience could feel his emotions when he performs. Your humble commoner is grateful that Your Majesty has tasted my efforts. Your Majesty really has a deep understanding and appreciation for delicacies more than the average person,” Ye Jiayao responded humbly.
The Emperor laughed out loud, extremely thrilled with this young fellow.
The Crown Prince and Helian Jing exchanged amused glances. They already knew how good Yaoyao was with words.
“Li Yao, you may not have created this but it has become the epitome of delicacy through your hands. I shall name this dish for you,” the Emperor said.
Everyone turned to the Emperor, curious as to what he would name the dish.
“Your dish has an intoxicating fragrant that I think even the Buddha would forgo meditating and jump over the wall to taste it. I shall bestow it with the name ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’! What do you think?”
Ye Jiayao was startled. The history was starting to come together. It looked like this was really fated!
“A million thanks to Your Majesty for giving this humble dish a name!” Ye Jiayao praised, unable to contain her joy.
The Crown Prince gently added, “His Majesty has personally bestowed a name for this dish, Li Yao. You are the first person in this dynasty to enjoy such honor.”
Ye Jiayao immediately kowtowed and said, “This is your humble commoner’s honor, and also this dish’s honor, to be so lucky to obtain Your Majesty’s favor. I am willing to offer this dish to Your Majesty, to become an imperial dish, to signify its preciousness.”
The Emperor finally understood why Helian Xuan, Xia Chunyu, and Little Jing showed such favor to this little chef. This young man not only has superb culinary skills but also has the gift of the gab. It was really difficult not to like him especially considering his good looks and adorable ways.
The Emperor joked, “This is your expertise, can you really bear to offer it to me?”