Gourmet of Another World - LightNovelOnl.com
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"Ummm… It's not what it looks like." Bu Fang looked at Xiao Yanyu. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards, forcing a smile that looked more like a weep.
He truly came to the Spring Fragrance Brothel for the food, just for the food.
Xiao Yanyu lifted her delicate brows, her eyes flickering playfully. She was utterly bewildered to bump into Owner Bu in the Southern City, a place so far away from the Imperial City, let alone catch him coming out of the Spring Fragrance Brothel.
No matter how cold and aloof Owner Bu came across normally, he was a man after all. What would a man do in a brothel? Oh my god!
She never expected Owner Bu to be like this!
"I get it, I get it. Owner Bu, you don't need to explain it to me." Xiao Yanyu nodded suggestively. Her eyes winked in a way that assured him she's got his back. "After all, the Imperial City is right under the nose of the emperor. It is relatively strict there. By comparison, the Southern City is much better. It is known for its romantic atmosphere."
What the hell do you know… Bu Fang couldn't decide whether to cry to laugh. His face began reflecting odd shades of color. In fact, this was probably the first time Xiao Yanyu witnessed so many expressions on Bu Fang's face.
"You know, men… all have certain needs." Xiao Yanyu was surprised to see Bu Fang's embarrassment. She found it rather amusing, and burst into a gentle laughter as she covered her mouth.
Although she could tell at this point that Owner Bu didn't fool around in the Spring Fragrance Brothel, she found his state of agitation to be simply hilarious.
Bu Fang quickly regained his composure and put on his poker face, completing ignoring Xiao Yanyu, who was laughing her head off on the side.
"Fine, Owner Bu. This is a secret I'll remember. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." Xiao Yanyu tried her best to hold in her laugh.
Behind Xiao Yanyu was a young maid, who also gazed at Bu Fang in amazement. She found it simply bewildering that someone as elegant and refined as her Miss Xiao could laugh this heartily. Did her lady know this young man standing before them?
"By the way, Owner Bu, why did you come to the Southern City? And when did you arrive?" Xiao Yanyu asked out of curiosity.
"Well, I'm just here for a short trip. I heard there are many gourmet delicacies in the Southern City, and came here to check it out." Bu Fang gave her a rather ambiguous answer. Xiao Yanyu was smart enough to see through that, and merely nodded.
"Here for gourmet delicacies? Though I am not extremely familiar with the Southern City, surely I still know it better than Owner Bu. Perhaps I could take you on a tour, since I know the delicious foods of the Southern City pretty well."
Xiao Yanyu's eyes sparkled as she suggested this with a smile.
Bu Fang was slightly taken aback but then quickly nodded. Having someone lead the way had to beat wandering around all alone. Otherwise, he could easily be dragged into another Spring Fragrance Brothel unwittingly.
"Xiao Ya, go home and inform the master that I will be back late today." A cool expression returned to Xiao Yanyu's face as she instructed the young maid behind her.
"What? My lady, the master said I must be with you at all times." The maid became somewhat flustered.
Xiao Yanyu replied her gently: "Just tell tell him I bumped into an old acquaintance, whom I intend to show around the Southern City. It is not convenient to be accompanied by a maid."
Bu Fang knitted his brows into a frown and shot a knowing glance at Xiao Yanyu. The maid was torn. But after Xiao Yanyu muttered a few more sentences, she turned around and walked away.
"Are you in some kind of trouble?" Bu Fang peered toward Xiao Yanyu and asked calmly.
"Not exactly what you call trouble. I'm just annoyed with the extra tail behind my back." Xiao Yanyu gave him a tender smile and proceeded to walk ahead.
As she strolled on, she looked back at Bu Fang and asked: "Did Owner Bu do his research before coming to the Southern City?"
"Nope." Bu Fang answered her honestly. He was randomly placed in the Southern City and had no time to learn about it beforehand.
"This is a water city located in the southern region. It is, of course, also south of the Light Wind Empire. The local customs are very much romantic in flavor, and the cuisine is also milder in taste. Spicy food is seldom seen around here. Instead, dishes like Dragon River Vinegar Fish, Pan-Fried Pork Bun, Foie Gras in Sauce… are famous specialty cuisines of the Southern City. Among them, the Dragon River Vinegar Fish and Pan-Fried Pork Bun are better known." Xiao Yanyu continued.
"However, due to certain reasons, the most authentic version of the Pan-Fried Pork Bun is long lost. The other Pan-Fried Pork Buns of the Southern City are not that impressive, which is quite a pity. As for the Dragon River Vinegar Fish, another signature local dish, one can get it at the Drunken Fragrance Restaurant."
Xiao Yanyu evidently knew much more about the Southern City than did Bu Fang. Every word she said hit the nail on the head, prompting Bu Fang to nod along as he learned about the local customs, cultures, and manners.
But of course, Bu Fang's attention was focused on the part about food.
The sound of Dragon River Vinegar Fish, Pan-Fried Pork Bun, and the other dishes all stimulated his appetite, causing his eyes to brighten.
Suddenly, Xiao Yanyu stopped Bu Fang and pointed to a street vendor's stand at the distant corner of a small alleyway. The stand was not big at all, but on it there were a pottery vat, a wooden lid, and several porcelain bowls. As a whole, it looked quite shabby.
"Owner Bu, don't look down on this small stand. This is actually another gourmet delicacy of the Southern City, called Ginger Sauce Tofu Pudding. It actually tastes really good." Xiao Yanyu grinned and began walking toward it.
Bu Fang's face froze. He cast a look at that stand and followed suit.
The stand was very modest in size and belonged to an old lady in her fifties to sixties. Wrinkles covered her entire face, but her eyes brimmed with a loving kindness.
"Auntie, can I have two orders of the Tofu Pudding." Xiao Yanyu smiled gently at the old woman at the stand.
"Uh-huh." The old woman took her hands out of her sleeves, responded warmly, and got to work.
Bu Fang watched her movements closely as all sorts of feelings welled up in his heart.
Once the old lady uncovered the wooden lid on the pottery vat, a delicate fragrance of tofu instantly wafted through the air. A moist steam rose up, arousing one's appetite.
"Young man, my tofu pudding is definitely the most authentic in the Southern City. Everything was carefully processed by myself." The old woman, noticing Bu Fang staring at the pottery vat, immediately smiled kindly and reassured him.
She grabbed a flat, round shaped steel spatula. This instrument was made in a particular fashion. Its handheld was bent at ninety degrees against the round shaped steel blade. The spatula itself was very flat, unlike the shape of a typical spoon.
The old woman grabbed a somewhat worn-out, but very well cleaned porcelain bowl. She held the steel spatula in one hand and extended it into the pottery vat. Shaking her hand, she pushed away the layer of liquid resting on top of the tofu and sliced it down skillfully.
She cut out a thin layer of tofu pudding and poured it into the bowl, repeating the same movements until she had filled the entire bowl with fragrant tofu pudding.
The old woman didn't hand them the porcelain bowl immediately and instead uncovered a small wooden bucket next to the pottery vat. Then, she scooped up a spoon of red-colored ginger sauce with a bamboo tube and poured it over the tofu pudding. This ginger sauce had a hint of sweetness, and gave the naturally smooth and white tofu a red sheen. It sparkled like a piece of red ruby, incredibly beautiful.
The pungent taste of the ginger sauce, mixed with the mild scent of the tofu pudding, created a unique combination.
"Here, young lady. Be careful, it's hot." The old woman handed Xiao Yanyu the Ginger Sauce Tofu Pudding warmly.
Xiao Yanyu received it carefully.
"Owner Bu, could you please help me take off my veil?" Xiao Yanyu's water-like eyes peered toward Bu Fang as she asked in a charming voice.
Bu Fang's eyes were fixated on the Ginger Sauce Tofu Pudding in the porcelain bowl, and his tongue was licking his lips. Xiao Yanyu's words caught him by surprise. He answered her, all distracted. "Sure."
When the thin veil was removed, Xiao Yanyu's smooth, delicate skin immediately came into sight. Her fair face was so supple that water could practically be squeezed out of it and her ruby red lips shone like delicately carved gems. She looked incredibly alluring and attractive.
"Thanks, Owner Bu." The corners of Xiao Yanyu's mouth curled at a beautiful angle. A trace of smile appeared across her breathtaking, lovely face.
Bu Fang suddenly felt a little awkward, took a step back, and responded calmly: "Not a problem."
Xiao Yanyu simpered, and then pouted her lips to blow at the spoon of steaming Ginger Sauce Tofu Pudding. After a small sip, her exquisite face flushed slightly red. A blush smeared across her pale skin, making her look ever so captivating.
"Young man, stop staring. This is yours." The old woman's teasing voice rang in Bu Fang's ears. He instantly snapped back, nodded at the old lady, and took over the bowl she handed him with both hands.
The porcelain bowl was slightly warm. Inside, the mix of red ginger sauce and white tofu pudding spread a scent that teased one's taste buds. The beautiful color stimulated one's appetite even more.
Bu Fang's eyes flickered. He felt as if he had returned to his previous lifetime. In his fuzzy memory, there was always an old woman or old man, found in small alleyways, selling tofu puddings that could warm one's heart.
On his side, Xiao Yanyu squinted her eyes. She exhaled a hot breath after every bite of tofu pudding. Satisfaction was written all over her face.
Bu Fang puckered his lips and laid his gaze upon the Ginger Sauce Tofu Pudding once more.