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Palace Full Of Delicacies Chapter 2

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o/ h.e.l.lo, it's me, Luka, back again!! Sorry for being quiet for so long. Although, those of you who also read SWIYBR (So What If You've Been Reborn?) might know what happened to me - basically: school projects and falling sick.

For the lovely PFoD, though, Chapter 2 had a few terms that were immensely difficult to translate, and I just didn't have the time to sit down and translate them properly. Especially 'genealogy management office' - the original term, 宗正司, had me stumped for weeks. I only managed to figure out a decent translation for it today.

One last thing: I know you've all been waiting way too long for this, but please read footnote #8, it's important! And without further ado:

C2. A Way to Survive

If you are seeing this text, you are NOT reading it on the original site. Head on down to lovelysweetdream 959085286 dot wordpress dot com to read the original!

The donkey was necessary for Su Yu to set up his stall every day, and without the donkey, he would have to pull the cart himself. Hearing this, Su Yu could not help but stop in his tracks.

His aunt thought she had gotten hold of him, and became gleeful, continuing to criticise him endlessly, "Our family's already so poor that we can't afford to eat, and you're still using the donkey cart so extravagantly…"

"Auntie," Su Yu laughed grimly, watching the woman who was lost in her own glee, "you're right, how about I sell the donkey tomorrow, then push the cart and peddle my goods in front of the genealogy management office. It would save me a lot of walking as well."

Hearing this, his aunt's expression turned bad. The genealogy management office was the place where all the n.o.bles' administrative matters were handled. From the establishment and removal of n.o.bles' heirs, the inheritance of n.o.bility ranks, to the branching-out of a clan, such matters had to go through the genealogy management office. If Su Yu were to sell fish there, wouldn't it be a direct message to the genealogy minister that he was being mistreated by his uncle? They hadn't saved enough money for gifts yet, and they couldn't allow any missteps before the n.o.bility rank was fixed.

Ignoring his aunt, who had gotten choked up, Su Yu left the donkey cart behind and turned back, leaving the house again.

The main streets in the eastern half were clearly tidier than those in the western half, and the goods were of a completely different level. Su Yu did not linger in front of the well-stocked shops for too long, heading straight for a spice shop. This spice shop often sold spices from the western lands, and it was very popular with the upper-cla.s.s ladies of the capital. However, they had recently imported an unusual new spice with a strange smell, and there it was placed, ignored by everyone.

"Shopkeeper, the price we agreed on yesterday." Su Yu took out two hundred and eighty coins, pointing to a box of spice in the corner.

The shopkeeper looked at the box of greenish-yellow spice, then at the copper coins in Su Yu's hands, and sighed, "Alright, alright, I'll sell it all to you."

Back then, that merchant from the western lands had praised this spice to high heaven, saying how much the people in the western lands loved it. Having been caught up in the moment, he bought it, but he was completely unable to sell it when he got to the central lands. However, he had already invested in it, and was unwilling to lower the price too much, so he agreed with Su Yu on a price of two hundred and eighty coins per catty[1].

Su Yu received the waxed paper bag full of spices and held it in his arms, a smile creeping up on his face. This was the key to him selling squid; yesterday, when he discovered this by chance, he immediately decided to stop selling fish and switch jobs. Because this stuff, which had been called tianshanxiang[2], had another name—c.u.min!

Talking about it made his heart sore; though Su Yu was a seafood chef, he specialised in Sichuan cuisine. Although the An dynasty was not a dynasty that had existed in known history, it lacked everything that was supposed to be present, such as chillies! What was a chef specialising in Sichuan cuisine supposed to do without chillies! Although he couldn't find even a trace of chilli in the entire capital, he discovered c.u.min powder by chance. Having a little something was better than nothing, so at least he could do something now.

With the remaining money, he bought several hundred bamboo skewers from Old Mister Chen who sold candied haws. Su Yu prepared to go home via the alley next to the prince's residence, full of the wonderful knowledge that he was about to strike it rich.

The difference between the majestic residence of Prince Zhao and his family's shabby house was like the difference between a rich old man and a poor farmer. This estate belonged to Prince Zhao, the younger brother of the Emperor himself, and was decorated lavishly. Looking up at the sign with its gold-covered words, Su Yu inwardly sighed "such a filthy rich fellow" before he slipped into the alley.

"Go away, you creature," Fourth Uncle Yu cursed as he loaded buckets of fish onto his donkey cart by the side door, his expression that of impatience.

Rich people would buy fish every day. The fish would no longer be fresh the next day, and the head of the house would not eat it; it would be declared as discarded food in the account books. If the kitchen servants could not finish it, they would sell these fish off. Naturally, they were sold at cheap prices, and many fish-sellers would deal in these fish, including Fourth Uncle Yu, whom Su Yu was always running into.

Such a deed was rather dishonourable, and everyone knew it, but it would ruin their reputation if it was exposed. Fourth Uncle Yu had been troubled by this, and he became even angrier when he saw Su Yu. He aimed a harsh kick at the thing blocking his path and spat, "You filthy creature, why did you have to run into my feet instead of going by the main paths!"

Su Yu did not bother with Fourth Uncle Yu's hollering. He saw that the thing being kicked was a palm-sized golden kitten, and his brows knitted at once. Walking up briskly, he scooped the tiny lump up into his hand.

"Meow—" The little kitty was quite energetic, baring its teeth and claws at Fourth Uncle Yu even after being grabbed by Su Yu.

Seeing that the kitten was still so lively, it probably didn't suffer any injuries. Su Yu secretly breathed a sigh of relief, then looked at Fourth Uncle Yu coldly as he said, "So you're bullying the weak without fear of retribution."

"Heh, you little gigolo, you dare talk back to me now, huh! What about that pathetic appearance of yours from earlier this morning? There ain't any crazy women around to back you up here!" Having said that, Fourth Uncle Yu rolled up his sleeves, preparing to hit him.

Su Yu snorted. Letting the kitten, who was still baring its claws, hang off his clothes, he gave Fourth Uncle Yu a swift punch to the nose bridge. Fourth Uncle Yu howled, having had the snot beaten out of him; he bent over reflexively.

Taking this chance, Su Yu held the bag of c.u.min powder with one arm and grabbed the kitten on his clothes with his free hand, turning and fleeing the scene. He had only managed this. .h.i.t because the other had not expected it. If he really were to get into a fight with that beefy fishmonger, even two or three of this small young master-sized body would not be enough against him.

Running all the way back to the Su family residence, Su Yu tossed the bag on the table, panting hard. Three months' worth of labour had bulked his body up some, but it still wasn't much.

The kitten got out from the crook of his arm, shaking its messy fur. Seemingly unafraid of this foreign environment, it began pacing about on the table, like a king inspecting his territory. Seeing Su Yu who was so tired that he was sprawled out against the table, a hint of disdain showed in those amber eyes. After sitting for a while, it saw that the person appeared to have no intention of getting up; bored, it turned its head and prodded the paper bag with its claws.

The finely ground c.u.min powder wafted at once from the slit made by the kitten's claws, going into the kitten's sensitive little nose. The kitten could not help but sneeze.

"Hahaha…" Looking back, the kitten saw that Su Yu was up again, and was looking at it smilingly, which troubled it. Turning around, it sat upright and glared at him sternly.

Heaven knew how one could even tell if a cat was stern or not, but Su Yu wasn't able to tell. He only thought it was funny that the furry little guy was sitting upright so properly, with the chin slightly raised and all, and reached out to stroke the head that was dusted with c.u.min powder.

He had liked cats since young. When he had been working in a restaurant as a chef, he cared for a bunch of stray cats who lived in the alley outside the back door of the kitchen. Every day, he would feed them fish at the same time and place, and he hated it most when others abused these little fellows.

After its head had been stroked, the kitten hardly moved, its eyes narrowing slightly. Then it scratched him cruelly.

"Hsss—" Su Yu retracted the hand that had been scratched. Luckily, he had experience, and had pulled his hand back the moment the kitten's paw came out. He did not get scratched too badly, but it had left three red marks behind. "You little b.a.s.t.a.r.d, I risked my life to save you, and you won't even let me touch your head…"

He poked the kitten that was currently regarding him with contempt. That look seemed to be saying "How could this head of mine[3] be touched by commoners such as yourself". It tickled Su Yu just to look at that, making him want to stroke the kitten again.

"Do you have a home? If you don't have a home, you could stay here with me." Getting up, Su Yu brought out all the things in his closet, rambling on as he tidied up. He did not care whether the cat could understand him.

A long metal box that was open on three sides, a small sack of charcoal, and a basting brush with goat hair bristles. Su Yu counted these things that he had painstakingly collected, allowing himself a smile. After his initial arrival and discovery that he was immensely poor, Su Yu planned to do some small-scale business such as selling stir-fried hot plate squid. However, the reality was far too cruel; even searching for the c.u.min powder had taken him three months. Furthermore, heaven knew how long it would take him to gather enough funds for a pushcart that could contain a hot plate. Thus, he could only settle for the next best thing, which would be grilled squid skewers.

Judging from the looks of the sky[4], it was past dinnertime. People in the past ate less at night, but they still ate something at least. Su Yu's family did not care even if he had not eaten dinner, but he did not mind this at all. He moved the bucket with the squids to the centre of the yard and brought his fish-slaughtering equipment, beginning to take care of these large, plump things.

Skinning, gutting, pinching the head off; he was extremely skilful in these actions. By making two shallow cuts on the body of the squid and grabbing it by the triangular head, he could remove the skin and head cleanly. The kitten, which had been stewing in its annoyance for a while, saw that Su Yu was now cutting something, fingers flying about quickly; curious, it came closer to take a look.

After removing the gladius[5], the squid was considered as having been processed. When Su Yu turned around and saw that the kitten was gazing intently at the squid in his hands, he guessed that the kitten was hungry. He cut off a squid tentacle and held it out.

The kitten sniffed it, then turned its head away, clearly disliking it. It did not have any intention of tasting the squid.

Su Yu lifted his brows but did not mind; some cats were more picky eaters and did not eat all types of seafood. He tossed the cleaned squid into a small basin and continued to handle the rest. After he had dealt with all the squids, he cut most of them separately into rings and tentacles, leaving about ten whole squids; the whole squids were given criss-cross cuts. Finally, he threaded them onto the bamboo skewers, lining them up in a lidded bucket, and submerged them in well water.

"Come on, I'll take you to eat something good." After finis.h.i.+ng his preparations, Su Yu exhaled, raising a hand to rub the kitten's head. Unsurprisingly, he earned more scratches for it.

The Su family had very few servant women. Around this time, the sky was already completely dark, and there was not a soul in the kitchen. Su Yu went into the kitchen and scanned the place; the pots and pans were empty, with no leftovers for him.

After searching for a while, he only found some small fish and prawns, some small clams, and a handful of droopy vegetables.

He took a dipper-full[6] of flour, mixed it with water, then kneaded the mixture repeatedly, and left it to rest. Without any hurry, he cleaned the seafood, then left the fish and prawns to cook in the pot and put the clams near the fire to grill. It would take a longer time to grill them with the wood fire; during this spare time, Su Yu took out a white porcelain bowl[7] and began to add seasonings to it.

Soy sauce, salt, flower-pepper powder[8], sesame oil; these simple condiments were all highly abundant. After mixing certain ratios of these condiments and adding some c.u.min powder, the seasoning for the grilled squids was ready. He left a small dish of the seasoning out and stored the rest in a small clay jar.

Since he was not in a hurry to make the noodles, Su Yu got the clams out first. The small clams had been grilled until they had opened, and they sizzled and gave off steam. They had little flesh, but they were delicious. Su Yu picked one out with a bamboo skewer and pa.s.sed it to the kitten who was crouched on the countertop. The kitten c.o.c.ked its head and stared at it, before biting it off unwillingly and chewing slowly. The strange thing was, this fellow did not lower its head at all while it ate, instead maintaining that high-and-mighty expression.

Su Yu found that funny. He dipped a clam in the small dish of seasoning and tried it. The seasoning was just right, and he couldn't help but pick up another, but it was s.n.a.t.c.hed away the kitten next to him.

"Ay, you can't eat that!" Before Su Yu could prevent it, the sauce-dipped clam flesh had already been swallowed by the kitten.

Little Fish: Kitties can't eat salty stuff (serious face)

Cat Gong: Hmph, commoner

Little Fish: It's bad for the kidneys if you eat salty stuff

Cat Gong: !!!

This time, the only new names are from the little section after the main text:

Little Fish 小鱼: Refers to MC, in other words, Su Yu.

Cat Gong 喵攻: Refers to ML.

These terms will appear in subsequent "Mini Dramas" - little pockets of dialogue that appear at the end of some chapters. More names/terms will continue to appear.

Notes:

[1]: One catty (斤) is equivalent to 500 grams in China.

[2]: Original term 天山香, probably a name made up for the purpose of this novel. Also, the Tianshan Mountains are an actual geographical location.

[3]: He addresses himself as 朕, which is a p.r.o.noun that only an emperor can use.

[4]: Literally 天色, meaning 'colours of the sky'; the colour of the sky can be an indication of the time of day.

[5]: The gladius is a rigid inner structure composed of chitin; it's like an internal sh.e.l.l that supports the body of the squid. It looks like a long, thin piece of plastic. So-called because it supposedly resembles the Roman sword.

[6]: A kitchen utensil made from half a dried gourd, or sometimes wood. The gourd used here is most likely the fruit of the calabash vine, not to be confused with the calabash tree (which doesn't grow in China). Unlike the kind used for containing medicine or pills, which is shaped like an 8, the kind used for dippers is more like a ball, with a much smaller upper portion - this part serves as the handle of the dipper.

[7]: This is more of a large serving bowl, the kind that sometimes comes with a lid. I imagine it should be quite big.

[8]: [LONG EXPLANATION] Original term is 花椒, and I know very well that it's typically translated as Sichuan pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, or Szechuan pepper. So before you call me out for a mistranslation, please read what I have to say:

In this world where Su Yu currently lives, it's highly possible that Sichuan doesn't exist. The first hint is already there: chillies, which are an integral part of Sichuan cuisine, are nowhere to be found. What this probably means is, this world doesn't have any cuisines that are equivalent to Sichuan's (you'll see in later chapters), and there's absolutely no mention of any region in this world that seems to be the equivalent of Sichuan. Therefore, in this world, there is no a.s.sociation between 花椒 and Sichuan. If that is the case, then wouldn't it be strange to translate it as Sichuan pepper, which would suggest that it originates from, or is widely a.s.sociated with, a location that doesn't exist??

Which is why I have chosen to translate it as…that. Trust me, I'd translate it as Sichuan pepper if I could, but I'd rather not have any questionable things in the translation. Also, I don't want any readers getting confused.

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Palace Full Of Delicacies Chapter 2 summary

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