Chapter 76: Surprise, A Hundred Vegetarian Dishes
Yu Se didn’t say any more. She had obviously meant to convey that the Song Family was indebted to this fourth madam, and she was therefore allocated a seat here. Her presence served as proof, and if they wanted to complain about it, it would be denying the Song family face.
Naturally, no one came to make trouble for Bai Xiangxiu after that, but their gazes were still drawn to her. Everyone, regardless of gender, loved to look at handsome men and beauties. Perhaps some women would be jealous, but there were also those who liked looking at beauties.
Bai Xiangxiu’s features was akin to those beauties who could topple kingdoms and cities. Especially with the otherworldly air about her, she didn’t give off the slightest hint of someone of a lower status. She just sat there serenely, not showing too much of a reaction at those stories about tearful partings and joyful reunions. It was like an old monk sitting in solemnity, giving off a dignified, sedate air, a model of someone of high status.
In actuality, Bai Xiangxiu was just feeling uneasy, because she didn’t know what everyone’s evaluation of these hundred vegetarian dishes would be.
Yu Se still rather admired Bai Xiangxiu within her heart, having heard that she was from a small scholarly family. The only one who had any accomplishments in her family was her father, but while he had placed on the imperial exams, he didn’t have much actual power, not even obtaining the most minor of positions as a seventh rank official. As the eldest daughter of that family, if not for her outstanding looks, it would also have been hard from her to enter the Prince Li Manor.
However, her demeanor here was neither arrogant nor restless, and actually not much inferior to those daughters from renowned families. There were many ladies within this Song Manor, but you could not find a single one who could equal her in temperament and behavior.
Faced with the provocative gazes of many, she remained mild and composed. Even when facing the prince and the young master, she didn’t seem to act any differently, as though her body was there but her mind had already drifted far away. Having studied alongside the young master since youth, Yu Se’s knowledge was quite exemplary, but she felt that she was still far from Bai Xiangxiu in terms of maturity!
As Yu Se mused, the servants began serving the dishes.
Six appetizers were served first, the maids of the various madames hurriedly placing food into the bowls of their mistresses. In these kind of events, the women were not only striving to one-up each other in person, but they were also trying to assert dominance through their maids.
While Xiao Shi could be considered a second-grade maid, she was still young and lacked experience. Her movements were inevitably a little panicky. As her chopstick-wielding hand trembled, food fell onto the table. Bai Xiangxiu did not blame her, not even thinking much of it.
She didn’t want to compete with the other madames on this; it just seemed completely pointless to her. She promptly picked up her chopsticks and placed the food into her bowl, saying to the others who had glanced over, “We shouldn’t waste it.”
Making a dish was really not easy. She definitely knew, even if others didn’t.
Xiao Shi’s face went beet red. Where could one find such a good mistress? Even though she was a concubine, it was also a kind of blessing to be able to serve her. Mentally counting her blessings, Xiao Shi redoubled her efforts.
Yu Se smiled slightly, gaining a general understanding on why her young master was so enamoured with this madame. Not blindly blaming her maid who had done wrong but helping her to clear up the mess instead, this was indeed a rare and kind nature.
The dishes were taken away after being served for some time, with six new dishes being brought out. Everyone began discussing the food after tasting the first twelve dishes. While these were vegetarian dishes, they were superb in taste, indeed different from what they normally ate.
How would these devout Buddhist madames not have eaten vegetarian food before? But all of them had felt it extremely difficult to swallow before, because the food was too simple and mild. However, today was different, with the varieties all ones that they had never seen before. The dishes were very pleasing to their palate and thus had a very good reception.
As the main planner of these vegetarian dishes, Bai Xiangxiu silently let out a breath of relief, finally able to rest at ease. Just like when she had organized garden meets before, she would be nervous for a long time and only able to give a long exhale in relief with the garden was closed. Mission complete! She could finally ease up, even though it was unpaid work.
Bai Xiangxiu had this little habit of being exceptionally satisfied when something she made was liked by everyone. Therefore, she didn’t care much about pay. She had no want for food or clothes in her current life, and she didn’t have anything she wanted to buy.
It wasn’t like in modern times, when she wanted to buy a house, a car, and…
Still, looking at it now, having a man keep her in style was really not a bad thing. Of course, the precondition was that the man was not her Grim Reaper as well.
“Madame Xiu, Madame Xiu…” How she become lost in thought whilst eating? Yu Se was a little speechless, smiling slightly as she looked at Bai He, who had come over to relay a message.
Bai He, on the other hand, chuckled out loud, causing Bai Xiangxiu to snap out of her reverie and ask, “Sister Bai He, why have you come over?” She even made to stand up as she said this.
Bai He pressed her to sit back down, smiling, “The Grand Master over at Old Master’s table praised you, and Old Master had me come over to express his thanks.”
“No need to stand on courtesy; it is my honour that the Grand Master finds it good. Just respond to Old Master like this.” It was already not bad to receive praise from the Grand Master. Bai Xiangxiu had also not eaten many vegetarian dishes at the monastery previously, only having stayed there a few days, but she also felt that the food there was not very special. While the dishes she had thought of really did not require many special ingredients, they had still been improved over many generations, therefore becoming uncommon. The value of resources came from their rarity, and this was the same for eating as well.
Momentary novelty had brought to everyone a new experience, and this was why such compliments had been delivered. Bai He smiled, “Look at your happy look. I’ll go back now.”
“Right.” How could she not be happy? Bai Xiangxiu still kept it in.
She had to live carefully now, in order to be able to return to modern times a year later. She had to keep as much of a low profile as possible before that, not stirring up matters and not provoking anyone. Therefore, she suppressed her joy as much as possible. However, she still felt somewhat emotional within as she saw those dishes served and taken away one after another. A full hundred dishes. All the guests expressed their wonder at this.
If this had been in the summertime, with fruits, melons and whatnot all flourishing in the fields, it would not have been anything to be amazed about. However, but at a time when a new crop had yet to come in, being able to garner together a hundred vegetarian dishes at this time of the year really caused things to be seen in a different light.
The Song family had really retained its face, with the old master so delighted that he never stopped smiling.
Long Heng was also rather proud, never having thought that nèe Bai was actually such a capable person. However, she would have to properly rest later on for that leg injury of hers.
Seated on the same table as him, Song Jiaoyue felt that these dishes were filled with thoughtfulness, just like her very person. If not for her, how would this Buddhism gathering have turned out to be such a grand event? While the Song Family was not an extravagant family, for the sake of filial piety, it naturally wouldn’t do to be too shabby.
Firstly, it was Old Master’s birthday. This was something that had to be celebrated on a grand scale to begin with. Secondly, he had also invited a few Grand Masters, as well as some officials and their families come to celebrate his longevity. Things like these which concerned the family’s face naturally couldn’t be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, Madame Song also had her reasons for doing this. The five sons of the Song family had already split up the family and moved out. The old master had been staying in the home of his youngest son, Song Jiaoyue’s father. Those other Song family branches would always come around looking for trouble. This time, she believed that not only could they only close their mouths and watch on, but this matter would be sufficient to shut them up in the future as well.