7, Mapo Tofu of Unreasonable Demand (Part 3)
I am Tebis Newbyst. The gourmet of Newbyst. And the first princess of the Newbyst family. I turn 10 this year.
The territory I live in, Newbyst, is an abundant land embraced by the holy woodlands. In the this woodlands abundant with wildlife and food, medicine, we worship G.o.d’s gifts and the forest he lives in, giving thanks to it.
Because of this land, our agricultural and cooking techniques are quite good. Year after year, we can eat deliciously. We, the royalty, are also thankful for that.
However suddenly the neighbouring country Yuyubi came and proposed a marriage between me and their prince.
In this land where the forest resources are abundant but the mineral resources pitiful, doing trade with Yuyubi we could get our hands on minerals. Up till now it was fine and I thought that it would continue to be like this.
However we could see that the mineral exhaustion in Yuyubi. That is when this friendly relationship was destroyed.
Yuyubi’s troops were also strong. The quality of their weapons and armours are high. If battle happens, we probably cannot win fair and square.
Father noticed the neighbouring country’s resource problems and was going to refuse but, is likely worried about the difference in troops.
In the first place I don’t even like the prince of Yuyubi. We met many times during the banquet but I hate that prideful att.i.tude and arrogant personality of his.
However, there are times when royalty must kill off their own feelings and become a bride. I resolved myself saying, at the very least as a good wife I can just work hard.
Reserving the reply, the next day this problem was complicated by the council. If I refuse the marriage it’ll become war. If it becomes war we can’t win.
But if we accept the marriage then we’ll be taken advantage of. At least accommodating trade is better than being uncertain.
On such a day, suddenly Yuyubi came to declare war.
The reason was the marriage proposal, the shame of having not received a response.
Has there ever been such a ridiculous story. There have indeed been wars originating from the breaking of a marriage but, our marriage hasn’t even been decided. This is completely unreasonable.
However, we also didn’t know if this was Yuyubi’s goal.
Either way, it’s a plan to take the holy forest. At the time of proposing the marriage, we were already at a checkmate.
Once again the att.i.tude regarding the war was complicated by the council. Should we fight to the bitter end or surrender. Saying things like we should do something while the injuries are light, and beg the enemy for forgiveness.
In the end, father gave his verdict.
We fight to the end.
The matter is that if the woodlands were dirtied it’ll be ambushed by mining b.u.mpkins.
For that sake, only this year did the citizens get subjected to army conscription and tax increase. Luckily a revolt didn’t happen but our victory is at most 30%.
I too, was told to flee with my maid and close aide by my father.
“No, I won’t run!”
“I don’t know if this war can be won or not! Run to the forest while I lead the troops! If you do that, even in the worst case you can survive!”
“The citizens and officers, I won’t abandon the soldiers! I won’t abandon father either!”
I, until now, have been supported by Father, our subordinates, and the citizens.
As such, I am unable to flee and abandon everyone.
So in the end, I remained in the castle and devoted myself to praying.
So that we can win the war, so that father and everyone else and come back safe and sound.
Without even eating food, the castle which has become a monastery is cold and lonely. My hands and feet are becoming chilly.
Despite that I continued to dedicate myself to praying.
It’s been three days since, and the maid came into the holy hall with a face full of smiles.
“Princess! Good news!”
“Have we won the war!?”
“No, it’s not that but…”
The maid was slightly troubled but immediately smiled.
“We hired three mercenary corps”
“Mercenaries? I heard that we hired two though”
Where is the good news in that.
Those two mercenary corps, knowing our poverty deliberately raised the reward compensation.
Somehow having hired them, it bringing harm to our economic situation is a fact.
Those kind of people, there’s no way I’ll accept them!
“The last one is ‘that’ mercenary corp princess”
“‘That’? Where from”
“It’s the Ganglabe Mercenary Corp princess! ‘That’ leader knowing our poverty is willing to accept the war with the minimal rewards!”
Ganglabe Mercenary Corp you say!?
Ganglabe Mercenary Corp grew rapidly this year, and is the mercenary corp with the most ability right now.
It was originally insignificant with only around fifty people but, the commanders all acquired abilities at the same time, and it’s said that each of them have the strength of a thousand people.
In the siege war of Yanangan “Maverick Inventor” Riru with her new invention utterly destroyed the castle which was claimed impregnable in a mere three days.
Defending the retreat route in the Salt Highway, that “Hundred Killer Death G.o.d” Cougar chased away the opponent just by himself.
In the utterly crushing Snow Mountain battle “Hard Blaze Witch” Ahrius displayed a feat in which her new magic melted all the snow on the snow mountain.
“Bow Saint” Teg with his skills able to hit even a target extremely far away, is said to be able to defeat absolute all commanders.
With just Ganglabe Mercenary Corp being there, they are able to successfully defend a castle which should have fallen, and is known right now as the number one mercenary corp that you would not wish to meet on the battlefield.
“Why, us? If it’s that kind of mercenary corp, there’s also a high chance that Yuyubi’s large amount of gold could’ve hired them.”
“Well that, I’m not quite sure about the reason”
“Yes, the food supplies route and it seems their goal is exchanging negotiations with merchants but…they said “I want to increase my repertoire…” in a small voice. Wonder what that is about?”
Is it the food repertoire?
No, there’s no way that for the sole sake of increasing their cooking repertoire such elite troops would partic.i.p.ate in war, no way.
Then is it tactics?
I don’t know, there’s way too little judging information.
“Anyway princess. If it’s Ganglabe Mercenary Corp, there’s no need to worry”
“Y-yes. If it’s that mercenary corp then they might be able to do something somehow”
The military power just that mercenary corp holds is extraordinarily ridiculous.
Ama.s.sing five people where each of them wield the power of reversing battlefields.
I can’t imagine them losing.
A few days after, the battle was won.
Without a doubt, a sudden reversal on the battlefield where our troops and the other mercenary corps fought a hard battle, Ganglabe’s Corp launched a surprise attack as an interruption.
Splitting the opponent’s team right in half, it seems like the plan was to destroy the isolated troops from the beginning.
At that time, the one who led the cavalry was Leader Ganglabe-dono.
Pursuing the opponent, eliminating them.
The was was a perfect victory. The opponent’s commander and generals were captured as prisoners of war, bringing about a complete victory.
The troops returning from war were welcomed by citizens with large open arms.
A grand victory parade was held, the soldiers who have returned to the castle are sharing their victory with their comrades on standby.
The commander as well as the shogun were granted a reward and medal, they seemed happy.
“This battle. If Ganglabe Mercenary Corp did not come to us, We would probably not be here right now”
“Did they hold such power?”
“Yes. After interfering with the battlefield with a surprise attack, crushing each of them was scarily smooth. Even crushing each of them, in front of the might that is the commander figures with the power of a thousand men seemed to appear as something tame.
Above all, the pursuit after was over immediately. Teg-dono’s bow reaches from a scary distance. There was no need to pursuit too far”
On father’s face, you could see rather than the joy of having survived it seems the relief from having a death G.o.d as an ally is greater.
However a problem has also occurred.
We must pay the mercenary corps an additional reward however, we do not have enough money for that.
From what I’ve heard the cabinet minister, shogun and commanders say, truthfully speaking I too think that it’s fine to pay only Ganglabe-dono.
The other corps were truthfully just making up for useless members. The Shoguns too, seem to see them in a good light.
I wonder what we should do. And that’s when,
My stomach growled.
I looked down with a red face but father as well as the cabinet minister were somehow relieved.
“Princess too, you can be at ease and eat now”
“Indeed. ‘Peace is the best’ can only be felt in this moment when peace has been attained”
Father hearing that, smiled at me.
“How about this, the one to make something delicious for our daughter shall be paid the reward”
“Alright. And we can pay Ganglabe-dono like this”
Is that ok? was what I was honestly thinking but, I was silent ‘Well, that’s fine too’
And then calling for the mercenary leaders and their aides, having something to say during the audience.
The other corp’s only had their leaders here but, Ganglabe-dono brought a mysterious man to his side.
Black hair and black eyes, a thin line-like body and a delicate face.
‘What’s with this guy’ I seriously thought.
Initiating the audience, Father started speaking of the arrangement.
Basically, the additional rewards will be paid.
Basically, paid only to one.
Basically, make a delicacy.
The mercenary leaders were looking unsatisfied but if it was me speaking I would want to say those who survive, survive; that I wouldn’t ever pay you people who took advantage of us, and raised the fees.
Which is why I said in a malicious way.
“What I wish to eat is a delicious dish which is sweet, sour, spicy and bitter. Show me what you got”
With this the mercenary’s corps’ grew gloomy. My father by my side also, although he couldn’t reveal his expression, seemed to want to say ‘That’s impossible’.
However it’s fine if I ask for something like this. In the first place I have some expectations towards that kind of dish.
I have eaten up this country’s delicacies and delicious foods, so I have confidence in my tongue. If we preferred Ganglabe’s corp then even the other corps can’t complain.
In reality, what the other corps brought up were terrible. It wasn’t edible.
Even though I was the one who suggested this, I’m getting angry.
It really was bad so there’s no helping it. There’s no way I can eat this kind of strange combination.
As the other corps were in the middle of returning with a trot, Ganglabe-dono finally came out.
The man next to him was carrying the plate so, somehow that man appears to be their cook.
“Princess. Our chef, Shuri has prepared a dish. Please enjoy”
“You’re the last ones huh…”
I was boiling in anger from continued eating bad food but, I held it down and replied. I’m already so tired.
However what the man called Shuri brought out was a strange dish. I’ve never seen it before.
Dark red. I understand that the ingredients are small pieces of meat, spring onions and tofu.
But everything else was a blank. Even my nose couldn’t judge this.
“What, is this”
Never heard of it. This dish.
“Please try it. It’s good”
Sounds fake. This kind of strange soup can’t be delicious.
However if I don’t eat this then Ganglabe’s Mercenary Corp won’t be paid its additional reward.
With a do-or-die resolve I ate it.
The insides of my mouth were so hot it’s burning!
“H-h-hot, so hot!”
This is way too spicy! How is it delicious!
“Little princess, please savour it well”
Savour it!? In this torture?!
Adding little as well, I will kill this guy!
However as I control myself, a mysterious sensation spread through the inside of my mouth.
“… It’s sweet?”
It’s sweet. Inside this spiciness there exists a sweetness.
It lightly crumbles inside my mouth and spreads, what I felt was some kind of sweetness.
I see, this is the bean.
The slight sweetness of the bean. And that completely spread throughout the inside of my mouth.
“That’s the sweetness of tofu”
Recently, I hear that this is a food made from beans that’s reached the public.
There’s no sign of the bean’s original shape, and you can eat it just like that, fried or boiled.
Furthermore it’s said to be delicious whether it’s cold or hot, a strange food.
If I recall correctly half a year ago, it was spread out from some place.
And this is something with that in it.
Just slightly sour. Prepared nicely with the spiciness and sweetness.
If you don’t taste it properly you wouldn’t realise but, it’s certainly there.
“One of the flavours of Doubanjiang”
I’ve never heard of that.
Even as one of the country’s gourmets I don’t know a single bit about such a thing.
“Its also… bitter”
Except, this bitterness is different from the one of food.
A flavour added naturally, or added somehow using some method.
“Cause it’s been heated thoroughly in the pot”
Was this dish fried?
Even though it’s heated thoroughly, there’s not one part which is burnt.
Despite that isn’t there that peculiar bitterness from frying.
Except it’s not a bad bitter.
A peculiar bitterness, been done well.
“It’s the j.a.panese pepper and Doubanjiang”
I see, it’s a spiciness which has a refreshing flavour in the middle.
So this is because this has j.a.panese pepper is in it!
After understanding that, it’s not just spicy, made with each and every complex flavour and technique, I understand that it’s a wonderful dish.
Realising that I understood that this is a wonderful dish cooked with different and complex techniques creating such flavours.
Even though these flavours are co-existing, it’s almost as if they’re fighting.
Even the imperial cooks of this castle can’t cook something like this.
A cook like this, it’s strange why he would belong to a mere mercenary corp.
If it’s this man then naturally he’d be popular with not only our country but any country.
But right now I want to enjoy this dish.
“Good! So good!”
Ah, since the war started till now, I can’t help but think that this is the greatest reward for enduring so long.
Praying continuously, unable to even pa.s.s food down my throat, I only thought about my precious father and chief va.s.sal, and citizens being able to come home safely.
And then winning the war, and capturing prisoners of war, the peace that finally arrived.
I can only say that this dish is worthy of that peace.
“Please wipe away your sweat while eating.
I thought it was just right for the chilly Princess.”
Indeed my temperature’s been raised to the point that I’m sweating. The cold and such from before seemed to be a lie.
When I noticed my hands and feet weren’t cold at all. It was to the point where I thought this room was just the right coolness.
“After coming here, my feet have been constantly moving because of the cold, so that’s what I thought”
This guy, he saw through my chills with one glance!?
And then I arrived at the shocking truth.
This dish, not only perfectly fulfills my condition, it’s even a medicine which cures my chills!
It’s not just delicious, it can also warm the body!
Maybe that was his goal from the beginning.
Clearing my conditions, curing my chills, it was a dish with no complaints whatsoever with receiving the additional rewards.
Perfect. The perfect chef.
The art to make that.
The insight to see through the others condition.
The knowledge to comprehend the combination of ingredients.
Only he, is fitting to become my chef!
“You have peaked my interest. Become our chef!”
“Ah, I can’t do that”
My invitation was refused in no more than 3 seconds.
In the end, Shuri didn’t become my chef.
Even talking it over with my father, and a.s.suming we somehow inviting them in, Shuri selfishly declines on the behalf of Ganglabe. No matter how good the compensation or money, that person will just nonchalantly decline.
Ganglabe-dono as well, no matter how much we raise the price wouldn’t let him go.
Well, I get it.
A chef with those smarts and technique. He is a talent that is vital for Ganglabe’s mercenary crop which will continue to grow bigger.
Therefore I want it. A person with as much ability as Shuri.
I sigh as I fall onto my bed.
After eating such a delicacy, the evening banquet was like a blur.
It didn’t matter if it was there or not.
Naturally there’s wouldn’t be any complaints to be had for a banquet to be opened as a victory celebration.
Why would there be complaints about rewarding the hardships of the shogun, soldiers and citizens.
However, compared with the Maapou Toufu, I couldn’t sense the appeal of the food at the banquet.
“As expected, I can only send a spy from somewhere and secretly kidnap….”
I wanted Shuri to the point where such a dangerous thought calmly came out of my mouth.
Naturally I want the cooking that that man makes so I would never have a man-woman relationship with him.
“Princess. It seems there’s something our chef’s would like you to taste…”
The maid who entered looked a little troubled.
Was I thinking so much I didn’t notice the knock?
“What? I’m busy thinking. And after this there’s a dinner party”
“Yes, that’s what I said as well but, they wouldn’t listen no matter what…”
What? Is it wanting to test-taste tonight’s new dish?
Sitting up on my bed and looking up, there was something that I couldn’t believe.
“It seems they wanted to trial this Maapou Toufu dish but…. I’ll cancel it”
“Bring it here immediately!”
The maid was surprised but that’s of no concern to me!
Quickly bringing it here, I ate it.
… It can’t compare with Shuri’s cooking no matter what but, it is indeed Maapou Toufu.
Maybe it was made sweet or maybe the seasoning was done wrong intentionally. It isn’t as perfect as Shuri’s.
But there’s no doubt it’s Maapou Toufu.
“How is this here?”
“Yes, actually the cook from Ganglabe’s mercenary corp as grat.i.tude for letting him use the kitchen left behind the recipe and a little seasoning.”
A recipe as good as that, what kind of generous declaration is that!?
“Then after the chefs tried to cook it, everyone was surprised by the technique used in the dish and the deliciousness, and I was told to ask the princess who’s eaten the original for a taste test and her thoughts”
Truthfully speaking, there’s a world of difference with Shuri’s one.
However, for a first time making this I would say this makes the pa.s.sing mark.
“I will say my thoughts directly”
“I understand. And, here’s the next sample”
… What did you say?
“Next? What is there?”
“Yes, truthfully the cook didn’t just leave behind just one recipe”
Not just one!!?
“What is the meaning of this!”
“Yes, combining the Maapou Toufu with something else, changing the seasoning and there’s a few repertoires there.
When he left these behind the cook also left these words behind ‘You’ll tire of eating the same things so, enjoy these few Maapou Toufu’”
What a thing to say, there’s a wealth of variety with a dish so charming!?
Maybe, did he predict that I would release my spies and so sent the food in front of me as a way of handling me?!
Ohh, just how many steps ahead of me has Shuri read ahead……
d.a.m.n, I come to want Shuri more and more.
However I think I’ll stop from releasing the spies to kidnap him.
Right now I want to enjoy those few varieties of his.
“Later on at the dinner party, tell the chefs to make the trial products to sample. This might be a wonderful chance for our country to birth a new culture.
Get motivated, tell them.”
After the maid left the room, I thought by myself.
And then I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Kukukuku. Whatever you are thinking, you will definitely become mine.
You’ve just fascinated me this much. It’s good to praise obvious skill.
Kukukuku. Making a gourmet like myself go this far.”
Shuri’s cooking prepares the body condition, uplifts the mood.
This isn’t only helpful for wars but even diplomacy. This is clear to me.
Ganglabe-dono being unable to let go of Shuri, was probably because of this.
That cooking unifies the corp, and can be put to advantageous use in negotiations or diplomacies.
You sure are a capable person, Ganglabe-dono.
As expected of the one called “Sword Trickster Devil”.
Later I sampled the subspecies of Maapou Toufu.
All of them taste good. I had a feeling like I wanted to eat what Shuri made but, right now it’s fine like this.
In the recipe it’s politely written in detail from how to make the seasoning to how to heat it. As for the imperial chefs, they’ll probably eventually master this technique. Because even the method to make the toufu is recorded.
I negotiated with my father, and proposed to make sure that Shuri doesn’t go to other countries.
“If that chef is given to other countries, it’ll surely become harmful to Newbyst”
“To that extent? I don’t understand though”
“Father, no, Lord Prefect. I can say this for a certainty.
A chef whose competence and wit can earn a pa.s.s from cooking and my tongue, is someone who is extremely hard to replace.”
“Then what do you say we do? Kill him secretly?”
“No, that would be the worst decision. If we do that, there is no doubt that we’ll turn the entirety of Ganglabe’s mercenary corps into enemies.
That combat ability, carrying out surprise attacks and such without hesitation, they will bring harm our territory.”
“I want to avoid t-that. Then, what can we do”
“We should call dibs on them, King”
What I thought of was, sending a knife as a reward and a letter.
In addition to that, that knife has our country’s insignia on it, it’s top cla.s.s.
In the letter is well, something Royalty send to those who they pay the greatest respects.
If I do that, even if other countries want to make Shuri theirs, it can interrupt.
“Dear country, what do you plan to do with the chef our country is on friendly terms with”
Said for the sake of asking indirectly if they have the resolve to contend diplomatically headhunting a person who is arranged to be one of our country’s officers.
Amongst foreign countries there are those who import food from Newbyst.
We can keep them at check with the achievements of the war victory this time and the benefits in trade.
Oh Shuri. When can I have an audience with you again.
At that time, let me have a fill of more and various cooking.
The dukedom of Newbyst.
That is where the large section of Yuyubi’s former mine area was absorbed as a large-scale agricultural area and, there are food supplies from vast woodlands combined with the vast food production area.
After the war with Yuyubi, negotiating with Yuyubi’s prince as a hostage, and started after receiving an enormous compensation money and land.
All the food made here are good quality, and is even popular in other countries.
With that sort of country administration, their cooking techniques are also good.
If you walk in the streets restaurants are lined up, all of them delicacies.
All the tourists who visit here enjoy this country’s peculiar cooking, and go home when they are satisfied.
And in Newbyst there is a local cuisine which even royalty eat.
The recipe having been publicised by the royalty to the citizens was spread and established through the country in a flash.
Later, one of Newbyst’s gourmets, Queen Tebis Newbyst loves that dish above all else. Her favourite dish, that even after she grew old, she would definitely eat it at least once a week.
She is considered to prefer the Mapo Tofu that “King of Meals” Shuri Azuma left behind.
Again, it’s been pa.s.s down that “King of Meals” Shuri Azuma is the first to have publicised Mapo Tofu to this world.
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