In a short while, I will turn eight years old.
In a few days, we will be having a moderate-size birthday party and I heard that my friend, Miina, will also make an appearance.
It’s just that… There’s a matter that has been causing me to be anxious.
Recently, Mother’s physical condition hasn’t been good…
She is always drowsy and her body is listless.
When we had a healer, in other words, this world’s equivalent of a doctor, to take a look at her, the healer told us that her condition would be stable for a while, that she should not overexert herself and prescribed her bed rest.
So I suggested that we should skip the birthday party this year, but Mother told us off with a terribly menacing look: [It’s an auspicious day where Liliana takes another step closer to adulthood, so there’s no way we’re skipping it!]
Our family is aristocratic, yet, because we’re poor, Mother has to help out with the housework.
Such as gathering the few servants that we have and giving them instructions.
If she’s free, she might help someone with a time-consuming task, so she’s always doing something.
Now that Mother can’t move about, if I don’t work, then who will?
I decided to help out with the housework.
I’ve already helped out in trifling tasks, but when I offered to help out in more ways, I’ve always been told that it’s too dangerous for kids, so I haven’t been allowed to help out with anything else.
Yet, in my previous existence, because mom was out working hard, I ended up doing all the housework out of necessity.
Because of that, I have faith in my skills at household chores.
I’ve also got something that I, by all means, want to challenge.
That is: cooking.
The basic menu in this world is bread served with soup based on beans and vegetables.
These are typically served together with dishes such as; omelettes, cheese with sausages or grilled meat garnished with sauce.
But you see, when I lived in Japan, I took being able to eat food from different cultures for granted, so I want food with slightly more variety.
Thankfully, the foodstuff of this world has the same texture and taste as they do on Earth and you can easily obtain them by going to a store in a town.
Since the food ingredients are dependant on the seasons and production areas, it’s not as convenient as supermarkets where those are ignored, though.
Hoping for that much is setting myself up to fail, isn’t that right?
Nevertheless, what a pity.
The cooking methods of baking, simmering, boiling, frying, dressing vegetables and pickling are known in this world.
However, there are far more cooking techniques than that, you know.
For example: smoking and drying.
This time, I want to give steaming a try.
I wanted to try cooking earlier, but because I’m still a child, I wasn’t allowed entry into the kitchen.
That being the case, I tried giving the Head Chef a recipe and asked if he could make it for me.
That was when I encountered a problem.
Forget telling him how to make it, because there were no kitchenwares for measurements such as measuring scoops, I couldn’t even tell him how much of each ingredient to use.
In recipes, amounts are often written as “a pinch”, but how much would you say that is?
The correct quantity is the amount you can grab by pinching with your thumb and index finger, but since similar questions like these came with all of the ingredients, it turned out to be quite a troublesome matter.
Because wasting foodstuff is sacrilegious, I gave up in the end.
The Head Chef was so apologetic that even remembering it now makes me feel guilty.
It seems that the time for revenge has finally arrived, though!
Don’t underestimate one of the three great human desires.
I’m going to satisfy my desire at all costs!
Leaving the quantity problem aside for the moment, I executed my certain-kill attack on Father, pestering him to craft certain items for me.
The outcome was as I have expected indeed.
I’m sorry, Father. But your sacrifice was needed in order to increase our dietary diversity.
Today, the completed cookwares are finally ready to be revealed.
Being a child, it would be difficult to carry all the cookwares by myself, so I had it arranged for them to be carried to the kitchen beforehand.
When I cheerfully arrived at the kitchen, the Head Chef worriedly asked me, [Miss, this is a place where we handle fire and knives so it’s dangerous. Would you please allow me to handle those matters?]
[Head Chef, I do not have any intentions of doing anything dangerous. Right now, Mother is feeling unwell and is bedridden. Thankfully, her appetite is the same as always. but I wish for her to eat something delicious and get well quickly… And I want to help making that food. Can I?]
With a despondent expression, I looked up at the Head Chef with teary eyes.
[Besides, even having one more helper will quicken the process, right? Come on, please!]
[Uuu… If you can promise me that you won’t handle the fire or knives, your wish is my command.]
[Understood! Thank you so very much!!]
I thanked him and then climbed the handy chair that stood in front of the kitchen table.
Once I did so, the Head Chef stared at my appearance.
[What is that cloth?]
I pinched the object that was worn over my clothing.
[It’s called an apron. You wear it so that your clothes won’t get dirty.]
After all, our household is poor. We can’t keep changing clothes. That’s why I decided to make one.
[Ooh, that sure seems convenient.]
The Head Chef said that as he stared at it. If you like it so much, I’ll make one more and give it to you as thanks.
While thinking that, I confirm the cookwares and recipes that were spread out over the kitchen table.
When I think back on it, creating the recipes was very hard work.
Scales do exist in this world but, but they use different units of weight as compared to Earth’s.
Using weights to weigh each ingredient necessary for the dishes one by one, figuring out the amount required for each ingredient and writing it down in the recipe… It was a disheartening task to pen down the recipes.
[Today’s menu is: Nikuman and shuumai. In addition, we’ll be having stir-fried vegetables. With these cookwares and recipes, anyone can cook up delicious dishes.
Having read what’s on this paper, are you able to properly make the dough for shuumai and nikumans?]
Since I wanted to know if the Head Chef could make food simply by reading off the recipe, I asked him earlier to prepare the dough in advance.
Besides, it would be very hard to make the dough myself as I lack physical strength, the dough of the nikuman needs to be left to ferment for a while anyway.
Since he had made something similar in the past, he already knew the principles involved in making them and readily consented to making them when I proposed the menu earlier
However, he was uneasy at first as he’d never heard of anything such as shuumai.
But with my pleas and promise that it’ll be tasty, he reluctantly decided to take the challenge.
I’m thankful for your help, Head Chef.
[Here are the doughs you requested.]
The Head Chef presented me with two bowls, the nikuman dough and the shuumai dough, respectively placed in each of them.
Yep, the amount is perfect too.
Simply by reading the recipe, he’d been able to make some good doughs.
To make nikumans, originally, you need to add sugar, but this time we didn’t use it.
The dough can be made even without sugar.
Anyway, I mustn’t think too much about why I didn’t add any sugar to the dough.
It’s because we’re poor.
Being poor is terrible, isn’t it…
No good, don’t think about it, Liliana!
Time to get fired up and make these!!
[Thank you very much. I will do the shuumai, so Head Chef, I leave the nikumans in your hands.]
I split the prepared dough that was in front of me in similarly sized chunks, then covered them with damp towels to prevent them from drying.
I took a piece of dough from below the towel, sprinkled plenty of flour over it and rolled the dough into a flat circle with a rolling pin.
That makes one wrapping for the shuumai.
The wrapping was also covered with a wet towel to prevent drying.
This was then repeated, increasing the number of wrappings.
Following the recipe, the Head Chef is also preparing the fillings for the shuumais at the same time.
Since the ingredients for the filings needed to be cut and required the use of the kitchen knife, that job was taken from me.
It couldn’t be helped since I’d promised though.
Haah, the wrappings are complete.
It was quite an ordeal for me, at my age, to do this.
In order to not get flour all over my face, I wiped my sweating forehead with my right arm.
[Young miss, the filling for the shuumais are done.]
With good timing, the Head Chef brought the fillings in a container.
[Thank you very much.]
After giving me the jar, the Head Chef returned to overseeing his main duties, quickly finishing them. As expected of one of the few elites in our household.
He really knows how to do his job.
Well then, let’s wrap the fillings.
I created a circle with the index finger and thumb of my left hand, on which I placed the shuumais wrapping, and made an indent like a pouch.
I then filled this pouch with plenty of filling, while ensuring that the its surface is flat.
Filling the shuumai with filling was fun at first, but since there was a great amount it grew tiresome in the end.
No, no, I can’t think about that.
The more I think about it, the more painful it will feel.
I threw away my thoughts, and focused on the producing shuumais.
And finally, a large number of shuumais lay in front of me.
Yup, I persevered.
My chest filled with pride.
When I looked in the direction of the Head Chef, he was putting the nikumans into one of the steaming baskets that were brought here.
These are one of the things I had Father make for me.
I brushed the bottom of the shuumai with oil so that they would not stick, then put them into another steaming basket.
[Head Chef, can you please steam these as well?]
After all, steaming something which involves fire.
Regrettably, this is as far as I am allowed to go.
As for the stir-fried vegetables, the most I would be allowed to help with would be the washing of the vegetables, huh.
[Young miss, please leave the rest to me. The only thing left is to steam them, and while that is happening I will prepare the stir-fried vegetables. Please, feel free to take a rest in your room.]
[I’ll at least be tidying up after myself. And since I was the one who asked you to do this, I should at least watch until the end.]
With it being too dangerous as the pretext, I wasn’t allowed to tidy up either, so I spent the time listening to the Head Chef’s impressions of the new cookwares.
The Head Chef thought the idea of steaming was novel, and was looking forward to taste the result.
[Alright, the steaming should be about done now. Can you please have these carried to Mother’s room?]
In our family, we have a rule that we are to eat together.
Lately, the three of us have been eating in Mother’s room because she is bedridden.
Sometimes Father is away on inspections and can’t join us for lunch, but I confirmed this morning that he would be attending today.
[Certainly! I am sure that the madam will soon regain her vigour after eating the food you came up with.]
[Thank you. Please tell me your impressions of the food later, okay?]
The ones who will be eating this food isn’t only our family.
It will also be distributed to our employees and the serfs plowing our fields.
That’s why when I arranged the menu, I decided on nikuman, which can be easily distributed.
We made enough for everyone.
I was looking forward to everyone’s impressions.
I left the kitchen and cheerfully walked straight towards Mother’s room.
Father was already there, flirting with Mother.
Since that’s the same as always, I joined in on them without hesitation.
Some time later, the food was carried inside.
Once the lid of the steam container was opened, a cloud of steam rose and a delicious aroma invaded the room.
Father and Mother showed great interest in the food that they will be eating now for the first time.
Now, if only we had some green tea, it would be just like yum cha.
Of course, in this world there’s neither green tea nor black tea.
I’d really like to increase the variety of beverages someday.
[Father, Mother, I was the one who came up with the food today. The big ones are called nikumans and the small ones are called shuumais. The food was prepared by steaming it with the vapor of hot water. In addition to that, we have some stir-fried vegetables. Please, tell me your impressions.]
[Since it’s food that Liliana has thought of herself, I’m really looking forward to it!]
[Liliana has worked hard in place of Mother, huh. I’m grateful. Then, let us thank the forest for this harvest.]
[Thank you, Liliana. Let us thank the forest for this harvest.]
[I’m glad that Father and Mother are pleased. Let us thank the forest for this harvest.]
After saying this side’s version of a dinner prayer, the two of them began eating by taking a bite sized chunk out of a nikuman.
They probably thought it was similar to bread.
Silently staring ahead, neither of them moved.
Then suddenly, the two of them began chewing.
Could it be that it tastes bad?
I timidly put a nikuman inside my mouth.
Yup, it tastes like it should.
It was substantial and filling, and most importantly, the cheese inside had melted causing the harmony between the ingredients to be exquisite.
Then why didn’t they have any sort of reaction?
Could it be that the food from Earth isn’t palatable to those from this world?
[Father, Mother. Does it not taste well? I’m so sorry…]
Then finally, the two of them raised their heads and looked at me.
Their expressions were awfully excited.
[Liliana is a genius, isn’t she? This food is very tasty! The dough surrounding the inside is so fluffy and mellow as well!]
[Liliana, this is a revolution in the culinary arts! This day will forever be remembered in the history of food!]
[I’m glad you liked it. Please, have a taste of the shuumais as well.]
I encouraged Father and Mother to taste the shuumai now.
After staring at the shuumais with curiosity, they picked one up each with their forks and brought them inside their mouths.
[It’s incredibly juicy and tasty, isn’t it?]
[The moment I ate it, the flavour of the meat spread and the good taste concentrated in my mouth.]
Ufufu, that’s right! When steamed, the form won’t be easily destroyed, the taste won’t be damaged and it’s possible to preserve the taste of the ingredients.
Furthermore, the nutrition of the ingredients can be kept intact, so it’s very good for the body.
The two of them ate with pleasant smiles on their faces.
Oh, concerning the stir-fried vegetables, they also said they were delicious.
It’s a very joyous thing when there are smiling faces around the dinner table.
To me, those smiling faces are the flavour of happiness.
The final seasoning for a good meal.
As I was happily watching the rapidly emptying food on the plates, a new desire suddenly bared its head.
[Father, Mother, is it okay if I help out with the food from now on?]
There’s a mountain load of other dishes I’d like to try my hand on after all.
I really want to make pasta.
Unfortunately, in this world, there aren’t any noodles either.
This is probably because of the fork.
Forks are commonly used but the forks used here only have two teeth.
If they’re shaped like this, there’s no way they’d be able to eat noodles, right?
After all, there’s no way to entwine them.
Something like chopsticks, don’t even exist.
I think that even if someone came up with noodles in the past, it probably didn’t take root and was forgotten.
I asked Father to design a four-toothed fork.
When it’s completed, I’ll make some pasta.
And then, I’ll use those forks and weave the pasta around it with all my might.
That day, I successfully won the right to work with food.
Then, several days later at my birthday party, Mother threw a bomb at us.
[The present I give to Liliana, is this.]
Mother said that with a face full of affection, and hit her own stomach with both hands.
[Liliana, you’re going to get either a little brother or a little sister.]
Why is Father also surprised, Mother?
[Liliana, aren’t you happy?]
No, no, it’s just that the information was too sudden, Mother.
[Alice, is what you just said the truth?]
[Oh, Louis. Are you also unhappy with it?]
Saying so dejectedly, Mother looked very timid.
Incidentally, Louis and Alice are my parent’s names.
[How could I be unhappy? Not only have you given birth to such a cute daughter like Liliana, but you’re also going to give birth to another child, I can’t feel anything except gratitude towards you.]
Father gently hugged Mother and dropped a kiss on her cheek.
Yep, they’re acting like lovebirds like usual.
However, not wanting to feel left out, I jumped in as well.
I’m going to get either a brother or a sister!
Recently, Mother had seemed unwell, thankfully it was only the symptoms of early pregnancy.
That was why she always seemed to be drowsy.
Apparently she had asked the doctor to keep it a secret because she wanted to surprise us.
[Liliana, happy birthday! It seems that you’re getting a little brother or a sister. Thankfully, the lady wasn’t sick.]
Miina, who came to the birthday party was rejoicing with me while holding my hand.
[Huh, Liliana. Your hand is hurt!]
[Ah, I cut myself a little with the kitchen knife when I was working in the kitchen.]
Actually, I used the kitchen knife when the Head Chef wasn’t looking.
Of course, in order to not get found out, I immediately hid it though.
Well, it’s just a tiny scratch, it will heal soon enough.
Yet, since I had faith in the skills I’d gotten in my previous life, to get hurt…
When I looked at Miina, it was almost as if she herself had been wounded; she looked very sad.
[Liliana, I’m going to heal it for you. I beseech thee, may Liliana’s wound be healed.]
Miina held her hand over my wounded hand and I felt a slight warmth.
A short while later, she removed her hand…
The wound on my hand had completely vanished.
Miina, what did you do to me!?!
◊ ⧫ ◊
My name is Maria Sherista.
Plainly speaking, it’s a false name.
My real name is Maria Ree Chérie.
I was born as the youngest daughter to the Ree Chérie Company, that by now, has turned into a large organization, and by a twist of fate, I am now the proprietress of a restaurant in the royal capital, Laurelia.
When I left my home, I was disinherited by my father who led the company after which, they lost contact with me.
Since then, thirty-two years have passed.
Nowadays I’m a splendid auntie who owns a restaurant.
As for my parents’ home, I haven’t contacted them myself, but a few years ago my older brother found me, and has periodically been visiting me since.
[Long time no see, Brother. It gladdens me that you look well.]
Today, Brother brought with him a large box that he placed on the desk in front of me.
[I’m happy that you look fine as well. I was entrusted to bring this to you.]
[Brother, thank you as always. How are they doing nowadays?]
[From listening to the one in charge, they seem happy. I wonder who they took after, they’re so softhearted that they make me worry for them.]
[Ufufu, I’m happy to hear that. By the way, that’s an awfully large box, isn’t it. I wonder what could be inside.]
I slowly opened the box.
Inside it, were tools I’ve never seen before, a bundle of papers and a single letter.
[Brother, what’s all this?]
[They looks like some kind of tool, but there’s an awful lot of them. Maria, how about you read the letter?]
I took the letter out of the box and broke the wax seal.
Written on the paper was a letter written by the dear son I had no choice but to abandon.
Mom, it’s been a while.
I received Mom’s letter from the company.
As always, I’m happy that you’re well.
That’s not to say that you should destroy your health by straining yourself.
Recently, my wife has been unwell and she has been bedridden.
My cute little angel got worried and for the sake of her mother, and helped with the housework.
In particular, she became amazingly engrossed in cooking.
She asked me to make tools that I’d never heard of before and when I made them, she told me that they were meant for cooking.
Immediately, my little angel set to work; cooking food with our Head Chef.
Honestly speaking, I had originally resolved myself to eat all of it even if it had an awful taste.
Guess what happened?
Even now, I still think of your cooking as the best, Mom, yet our angel’s cooking was so amazingly tasty that we forgot to praise her and ate it as if we were in a dream.
It seems she takes after you, Mom, in being good with food.
Not only my wife and I, the entire population of our fief and our servants who ate it also praised it to the skies as “the food of the gods”.
Aiming for this superb food, the workers of our fief are working harder than ever with the cultivation of the fields, as they look forward to the end of their work. Somehow my little angel ended up making our workers carry huge expectations.
The moment our servants have any free-time, they go to the kitchen in order to be taught about cooking.
They wanted to have their own families taste the delicious food, so they got desperate, you see?
Upon learning of these circumstances, our angel decided to give the servants recipes and cookwares.
As thanks for their faithful hard work.
A recipe is a paper with the instructions of how to prepare the food, as long as someone has it and uses the cookwares that my little angel has made, apparently anyone can make delicious food as well.
Since I wanted Mom to also be able to taste the cooking, I put the recipes and the needed cookwares in the box.
Because she said that she wanted a cloth to prevent herself from getting dirty when cooking, which she calls an apron, and four-toothed forks for eating, I tried making them.
After using them, I’d very much like to hear what you think of them.
Finally, I also wrote that my wife’s condition was bad, right? On our little angel’s birthday, my wife gave us the best possible present.
Lo and behold, apparently our little angel is getting a little brother or sister.
Next year, our number of little angels will be increasing by one. I wish that one day I can show our angels to Mom.
When I finished reading, Brother handed me a handkerchief.
Whenever I read the letters of my son, I always start to cry.
[You’re such a crybaby.]
[Ah, these are tears of joy,there’s nothing wrong with them. A wonderful thing is going to happen: it looks like the number of angels is increasing by one next year.]
[So someone’s going to be born. That’s a happy event. Maria, isn’t it okay for you to meet them now? The circumstances right now are different from back then.]
While wiping my tears with the handkerchief, I shake my head.
[I must not. Because I couldn’t protect that child till the end, I don’t deserve to meet him. The public cannot know that they share blood relations with a commoner like me. Originally, I wasn’t even supposed to be exchanging letters with him…]
Yet, I find myself spoiled by the good will of my son and my brother. I feel shameful for even keeping this small connection alive.
[By the way, what are these tools, Maria?]
Feeling that he can’t budge my determination, my brother said that in order to sweep away the heavy atmosphere.
Well, he was probably interested in them to start with.
The sad habits of a merchant.
[These tools are cookwares, and the paper is something called a recipe, which supposedly is an instruction of how to make food. Apparently their angel came up with these things. If prepared according to the instructions, it’s possible to replicate the flavour the angel came up with.]
[So these are cookware huh. But, aren’t these just something a child came up with?]
[Brother, are you making light of this? Apparently my son’s employees and workers praised the food so much that they called it “the food of the gods”.]
[Now I can’t ignore that, can I? Maria, with that recipe or whatever, please make something.]
[Hah, I guess I’ve got no choice, huh.]
From the documents made by the angel, I took out a recipe titled [Vegetable Tempura].
Since he likes vegetables it’s a good match, and with this I can make it with the ingredients I have here currently.
I don the apron without delay and started with the food preparations. The trick to make it delicious is to not only add water, but to also add eggs to create a coating.
It was written that if the ingredients, water and eggs used for the coating were gently cooled, the resulting dish would be completed deliciously.
In order to replicate the flavor of the angels cooking, I faithfully followed the recipe.
After frying all the ingredients, I arranged the food on a plate and brought it in front of brother.
Next to the plate was the four-toothed fork that the angel came up with.
[This is brother’s share. Let us thank the forest for this harvest.]
[It’s got a yellow fluffy appearance, yet it’s surprisingly crispy. Let us thank the forest for this harvest.]
With bad table manners, Brother stabbed the tempura with the fork, and then slowly moved it to his mouth.
I also wanted to quickly taste the flavours of the angel, so I also brought it inside my mouth.
The moment it reached our mouths, we both froze, then shouted spontaneously in unison:
[Hey, Maria. This is without question, food worthy of the gods! This is the first time I ate something this delicious!
[This, is the benevolence of the gods! There’s no mistaking that this is the food bestowed upon us by an angel!!]
They were overcome with emotion because of the texture and deliciousness of the crunchy tempura after tasting it for the first time.
[If we cook according to the recipe, we can make food that is this delicious, huh.]
[According to the letter, that’s what’ll happen.]
[This cooking should be spread throughout the kingdom. As long as we have these recipes and these cookwares, we can enjoy this flavor, how wonderful! Also, this fork! Because it’s got 4 teeth, when I stab an ingredient with it, it feels a lot more stable.]
[Such a simple thing, why has no one thought of it so far? The four-toothed fork has great utility value.]
I stared fixedly at the fork I held in my right hand with wonder.
[Maria, this fork, these cookwares, and these recipes, I’d love for our company to sell them.]
Brother’s spirit as a merchant has apparently been ignited.
Because anyone can make this superb food, if offered for sale, it would definitely sell in great volumes.
This cute angel probably has wonderful potential.
The fact that my son and his people are affectionately watching over her, happily spending their time together has been clearly told to me through the letters.
Yet, I’ve heard rumors.
That his fiefdom is in dire financial straits and that the seeds of suffering and distress aren’t few.
I asked for my son’s approval later, and gave my brother the right to sell it. Half of the profit was promised to my son’s territory, of course. Even when I’m like this, I’m his parent after all.
My brother’s actions after that were quick. After borrowing the cookwares and recipes from me and with those as samples, he soon started mass production.
As expected of the leading force who caused the name of Ree Chérie to reverberate throughout the kingdom.
Before long, the recipes were sold as a book titled “The Gift” together with the cookwares.
Because the food products had already begun to be sold at the restaurants affiliated with the company, they were all sold out on the day of the release.
Even though many volumes were produced, they couldn’t keep up with the demand, and the fame of the goods just kept rising.
That which was the most unexpected, was the popularity of the apron.
Even though it’s a garment meant for work to prevent your clothes from getting dirty, somehow it turned into a trend and conquered a generation of younger girls.
◊ ⧫ ◊
After a while, the food had penetrated all the homes of the kingdom, and at last even the royal palace have been served the food.
Finding the food to their liking, foreign visitors brought the fame of the food outside the country.
Even in the restaurant that Maria Ree Chérie operated, the angels’ food was served everyday.
And when a guest ate the food, they said thus:
[Maria, I’ve never eaten something as tasty as this before!]
Whereupon, Maria would also, always reply:
[Of course it is, because this is something a cute angel came up with.]