The Other World Dining Hall - novelonlinefree.info
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Deep in the mountains, a thick forest was dyed white.
A spring was covered in thick ice, and a hut made from animal hide was built nearby on its banks.
Two ogres, Tatsuji and Otora, lived in the small hut with high ceiling.
From the mountain at east, the morning sun finally revealed itself, its light was reflected by the glittering snow and the two demons wrapped in full-body clothes made from animal fur appeared from the hut.
[Oou, cold. Here.]
Tatsuji, one half of the married ogre couple, trembled due to the cold that pierced to his bones and kneeled down.
[Aa, it’s hard.]
After Otora was gently carried in piggy-back style by Tatsuji, he then started to walk.
For both Tatsuji and Otora who were particularly strong ogres, their strongest enemy was neither the beasts that lived in the forest nor the samurais that occasionally attacked them.
For ogres who were scattered and lived in various places only with their families, it was during winter time when the food was disappearing, the beasts became thin and unpleasant, the spring water freezing over and the winter snow that was difficult to deal with that was the most frightening of all.
It was an enemy.
It was not an unusual story if a veteran ogre that was able to kill many travelers and samurais and living alone in the mountain had fallen ill during the winter and his corpse was found when spring came.
Leaving footprints on their path, they found the usual black door.
[Okay, get down.]
After Otora got off when he was three steps from the door, he bent down to gently grasped the door handle and turned it.
‘Chirinchirin’, the bell sound echoed when the door opened and warm air carrying the scent of food drifted out, they bent down to walk through the doorway while exhaling white breaths.
[Uwa, huge… wel, welcome.]
When the two ogres bent down to enter, along with the smiling Aletta was a female with the familiar features of Mountain Country people staring up at them in bewilderment, she too greeted them.
[Sorry to come so early. Let us warm ourselves for a bit.]
The restaurant was cool during summer and warm during winter.
They didn’t know much, but the otherworld dining hall was comfortable at every season and was a fleeting enjoyment during winter where they could eat delicious food.
[Ou, roast chicken as usual… no,
no alcohol today. We want to eat today. So we want rice please.]
She thought about drinking alcohol as usual, but looking at Tatsuji beside her, she decided to eat food only today.
[Well then, feel free to stay longer, best regards.]
Otora crouched down and smiled at the two waitress and the ogres sat down on the floor surrounded by the tables.
[Yes, wait for a moment please.]
After they ordered their usual, Aletta retreated to the kitchen and they waited hungrily.
[Thank you for waiting. Here’s your roast chicken with rice.]
After they waited for a while, Aletta brought a large plate full of roasted bird meat with rice.
[Thank you. Well then, let’s eat.]
They smiled seeing the dish placed on the table and they reached for the food as soon as possible.
They chomped down on the bird meat that was fatty despite the winter season, and they threw the still warm rice into their mouth.
Usually they would eat it while drinking “rice shochu”, the fat of the chicken still remained even when it’s roasted moderately and seasoned with salt.
When they chewed, it went well with the sweet rice.
Tatsuji and Otora could eat 3 person’s worth of meal, and as rice filled their bellies longer than alcohol, this time they abstained from drinking alcohol.
So they decided to eat their meal this way and were satisfied with it.
(…Oh right, that old magician used to say that…)
While spending their time in the warm room and eating their warm meal, he saw customers drinking the golden ale of otherworld and remembered the story he heard from a certain customer.
—In this restaurant, there are customers that buy a “pot” of meal to take home.
Such a story.
After filling their bellies to the brim with roast chicken and rice, Tatsuji called Aletta for a “new order”.
[…E? A meal in a cooking pot, is it?]
To Aletta who reflexively asked back, Tatsuji nodded.
[Ou. We will pay for it properly and bring the pot back the next time we come, so is it possible? That’s why, we want that delicious pot of meal that we can bring home.]
[Etto, I understand. I’ll check it with the master so please wait a moment.]
Aletta realized that he was not joking based on his serious face and returned to the kitchen.
After waiting, the owner came out.
[…I will have to prepare it from now
now so it will take a considerable amount of time, is that fine?]
[Aa, we don’t mind.]
[This place is really warm. I would appreciate it if we can rest after our meal here slowly.]
Hearing the owner’s confirmation, the two nodded and decided to wait.
[…I understand. Since it is cold season right now, I’ll make you some oden.]
If he thought about it, it’s the first time someone ordered a potful of cooking other than beef stew, so the owner decided on the menu after thinking a little.
[Ou, we leave it to you.]
[You don’t have to hurry. We’ll wait for you.]
[Yes, well then, please wait for a while.]
The owner nodded to them and went back to the kitchen to cook their order alongside with the orders of other customers.
(Perhaps they won’t be eating it soon, so they have to boil it again…)
Surely they would be glad.
While thinking so, the owner prepared for their dish while finis.h.i.+ng the other dishes.
[Well then, thank you very much.]
[Ou, we’ll come again.]
[Well then, see you.]
While listening to Aletta and the new waitress, they returned to the forest covered with snow.
[Uu, of course this place is so cold.]
[Let’s go back quickly. I’ll freeze if I stay outside longer like this.]
As the sun had reached its peak, it was somewhat warmer than morning time, but it was still cold as they just came back from that warm room.
While feeling like that, they rushed home.
[It’s a nice smell.]
[Very true. That old man told us to leave it until tomorrow to let the flavor penetrate the ingredients, but I want to eat it right now.]
The large pot was still warm and wrapped with cloth. The pot that was carried by Otora emitted a faintly fragrant scent from inside.
[Would you like to eat it here for a short while?]
[Be patient. We’re full right now. Let’s wait until the sun goes down.]
While talking, they reached their hut and went inside.
They closed the door tightly so that draft wind couldn’t enter inside and lighted the charcoal in the middle of the fireplace with an ember.
[Okay, I’m going to sleep.]
[Yeah, today we got up early and now I’m tired.]
They exchanged such conversation and wrapped themselves with futon made by sewing tiger and bear fur; they then napped until the sun went down.
Soon snores that rumbled like a rock echoed inside
echoed inside the room.
The two woke up and noticed that their bellies were now empty, so they decided to eat the oden now.
They removed the cloth wrapping and placed it carefully on the ash of the fireplace so that the silver pot didn’t spill.
Then they started to warm it by surrounding it with red charcoal.
After a short time, the soup of the oden was warmed up and a good scent can be smelled.
[Ou, it’s ready to eat.]
[Not yet. Let’s wait until the soup is boiling.]
Tatsuji who appreciated the scent tried to reach for the oden, but he was reproved by Otora who was preparing their bowls and chopsticks.
[Geez, not yet…]
Even if he was complaining, his face loosened.
This would be delicious.
He knew it even before eating it.
[Well then, it’s ready to eat.]
As she prepared the utensils, she heard the sound of boiling water from inside the pot and Otora took off the lid.
The smell of shoyu and cooked ingredients spread in the room and their bellies grumbled.
[O, ou! Let’s eat it now!]
Truly, he was just like a child except when he was fighting beasts and the samurais, Otora chose some of the ingredients from the pot and served them in the bowl while thinking so.
(Ou, the soup is crystal clear brown. This one is a boiled egg. This is some kind of meat dumpling… what are this grey thing and the one with hole?)
She placed the otherworld ingredients in a large soup bowl, a bit of yellow mustard that she received from the owner on the edge of the bowl and gave it to Tatsuji.
[Ou, let’s eat!]
Tatsuji received the bowl and reached for the meat dumpling as soon as possible.
He put the meat dumpling into his mouth and chewed, the dumpling containing the soup and taste of chicken the overflowed in his mouth.
[Ho~t! … But delicious!]
He breathed out to expel the heat of the soup in his mouth and loudly exclaimed.
[It’s true… this warms me up, we bought something good.]
While watching him, Otora sipped the soup seasoned with shoyu.
This oden cuisine seemed to be a dish where various ingredients were cooked at once, but the ingredients were varied, and the superb soup contained the umami of mushrooms, truly it was a first-cla.s.s soup.
[Oo, this is a delicious meal. The delicious soup has been soaked into the ingredients.]
It’s into the ingredients.]
It’s tough when eaten raw, but the belly meat that was in this oden was only faintly bitter and had plenty of umami, it’s truly “mixed in” with the oden.
It had absorbed plenty of the soup and melted softly in the mouth.
Besides, if eaten with the spicy mustard, the taste was tightened and they could eat as much as they wanted.
[This grey one that’s steeped in the soup is also nice. It’s jiggly and delicious.]
Tatsuji who ate the mysterious grey thing that’s shaped like a triangle told so to Otora.
This strange grey jiggly food provided a different texture to the dish.
It’s jiggly and did not crumble even if it’s soft, but he could chew it with his teeth.
With that unusual texture, the juice that’s been absorbed overflowed steadily.
He did not quite understand, but he knew that it’s delicious.
[Un. This thing is also good… the one with the hole.]
This ingredient with a hole was shaped like a bamboo tube.
It was stronger in flavor than the soup it absorbed; it also had a peculiar texture.
Apparently it’s made from meat, but it was something she had never tasted before though it was delicious.
[Ou, this egg is also good. But there are not many of them.]
Tatsuji cut the egg into half using his chopsticks and carried one half to his mouth.
The taste of yellow yolk and jiggly egg white collapsing in his mouth matched well with the soup.
Especially when he dissolved the yolk in the soup, the flavor of egg was added to the soup and changed the overall flavor.
[…Mou, I can’t be patient anymore!]
Tatsuji then searched around and unearthed Otora’s handmade unrefined liquor though there’s only a little remaining, and drank it while eating his oden.
[…Maa, that’s true. I also can’t.]
Even if there’s only a little remaining, she also drank it while rubbing her belly.
Drinking alcohol with the oden was delicious, and the remaining oden and alcohol disappeared into their bellies.
[Fuu, it’s over in a blink of eye.]
[That’s true. The food is delicious after all.]
After drinking the remaining soup until the pot was empty, they lied down.
[Ou, I guess it’s getting bigger?]
While laughing, Tatsuji stretched his hand out to Otora’s abdomen and gently stroked it.
[Don’t be stupid. It’s still early. Okaa-chan said that it will take a year.]
Her husband remembered the old days and laughed a little.