Chapter 6 Wind Crane: Delicacies
The crowd was bustling with the discussion about the competition, but Feng Luodi was more amused by the marketing techniques of the restaurant owner. Regardless of the outcome, Manchun Tang had already attracted a huge crowd.
Putting her surprise aside, Feng Luodi was enticed by the aromas wafting her way, and idly wondered how it would taste.
“Young miss, let’s have lunch here.” Jet eagerly inhaled the fragrant aroma
“Exactly!” Scarlet agreed as she wiped her drool away, “I can’t take this anymore, what I would give to try the food!”
Feng Luodi nodded along;but nothing could be done about that. The three starving souls couldn’t bear to leave once they smelled the delicious delights.
While they were discussing, the two chefs had reached the end of their preparation and were busy plating the last dish. The aromas of the different dishes mixing together to create a heavenly scent, making the crowd swoon. Unfortunately, the dishes could only be tasted by the judges, to the dismay of everyone.
Both chefs prepared four dishes: two main courses, a soup, and a dessert. The judges paced between the two tables as they tried the dishes from both chefs, feeling the eyes of the crowd on their back as they waited anxiously for the result.
Finally, the tasting was over, and it was time for the judges to cast their votes. 8 of the 9 judges quickly made their decision, and placed the begonia in their hands in front of their chosen chef. The last judge was a young and clean looking man, a scholar from the look of his dressing. His eyes darted between the two rows of tables, obviously conflicted in his decision. Everyone had their eyes locked on him; it was currently a draw between the two chefs, and his would be the deciding vote.
Sweat began to bead his brow as he felt the pressure on him. At the start, everyone waited patiently for his decision, but as time passed and he had yet to make a move, the crowd became restless.
“Hurry up and decide!”
“Just vote for one of them already!”
Now even Chef Xiao was irritated. He narrowed his eyes and glared at the scholar, which, coupled with his pudgy face, gave him a threatening look.
The other girl laughed. “Hey, Chef Xiao! Are you forcing his decision?” Her voice was soothing, and managed to ease somewhat ease the commotion.
“Sir, if you can’t make a decision, why not just choose someone in the crowd to decide on your behalf? Of course, the person you choose gets to taste the dishes, just like the rest of the judges have.” She looked at Chef Xiao. “What do you say about that, Chef Xiao? This is as fair as it gets.”
Chef Xiao nodded and grunted noncommittally, motioning for the scholar to choose someone from the crowd.
The scholar breathed out in relief, closed his eyes, and pointed randomly towards the crowd. He walked slowly in the direction he pointed at, opened his eyes and said, “You can choose on my behalf.”
“Me?” Feng Luodi was surprised at her luck; the crowd, even the duo beside her, looked at her enviously.
“Please help me out, miss.” The scholar was almost begging. “I really can’t seem to choose between the two of them.”
“Alright then.” Feng Luodi nodded, and took over a pair of chopsticks handed to her by the shopkeeper. She paused between each dish, savouring them carefully.
When she was done, she took the begonia from the scholar, and placed it in front of the girl.
The girl was elated, but now Chef Xiao was unhappy with the result.
“How is her cooking better than mine? You have to give me a reason for this, or I won’t accept the result.”
The crowd grew quiet as well, eager to hear what reason Feng Luodi will give. All eyes were fixated on the comely girl with bright eyes as she smiled confidently.
“Chef Xiao’s dishes were no doubt of a high standard as well. However, the reason this…” She paused for a moment, and looked over at the girl. “ahem, this young gentleman won the showdown was because her dishes not only tasted as good as Chef Xiao’s, but the presentation of the dishes were much more attractive. Please, everyone, take a moment to look at this dish of ‘Hibiscus Drunken Prawns’. The flowers used are the seasonal hibiscus, and they not only tasted good, but brings with them the fragrant winds of Spring. Look again at this simple dish of ‘Steamed Chicken’; the dish has been plated such that it looks like lotus blossoms of Summer, sitting atop a shimmering pond of water. Not only is it not oily but crunchy, it also keeps us in anticipation of the arrival of Summer.” Feng Luodi paused for a moment.
“Personally, I feel that the dishes of this young gentleman cannot be described as merely ‘attractive’. They are works of art, just like poems and paintings. Such exquisite dishes are surely more befitting of Manchun Tang’s reputation.”
Feng Luodi’s voice was soft, and had a soothing effect on the crowd. Listening to her words, the bystanders felt as if they saw the hibiscus blossoms of Spring, and the blooming lotuses of Summer.
Her eyes lit up increasingly with every word she spoke.