Taking one of the tables from the dining hall outside, we set it up next to the carriage at the mansion.
'We,' including me and Niya-san along with others. The table was heavy, so we asked the slaves to help with it, and the lighter chairs were carried by Niya-san and the others.
Though I didn't plan on eating with them, it would be impolite to decline the seating provided.
"Master Neil, thank you very much for your concern."
"You don't have to bow down for only this much trouble." I replied back to Niya-san who bowed his head.
By the way, Ronald-san is not here, saying that he will go to the cafeteria to eat if he no longer needs to be on watch.
As we chatted, Narsht-san holding the menu came to us and distributed menus one by one for everyone.
"Welcome... Is it okay to say so for this occasion?"
"Well, Narsht-san, you are the one who came, right?"
"Well, let's not dwell on thats, here's the menu."
Narsht-san came with menus for each of us, and explained, "I brought Master Neil's as well, but what do you plan on eating for dinner?"
"Oh, by any chance, is my dinner already prepared?"
"Preparation is still underway, so it would not be an issue."
"Then, I'll have a look at the menu and make a decision."
Normally, I asked Narsht-san to prepare my meals, so it was my first time choosing food from the cafeteria's menu.
By the way, when I took my eyes off the menu and glanced at Niya-san and the others, they were all gazing at the menu with utmost attention
Even Niya-san, who usually looks so nonchalant, was examining the menus with a bitten look on her face, which made me and Narsht-san look at each other involuntarily.
Well, the menus in the pioneer diner are quite extensive, and there are many unusual dishes that cannot be found in other places, but I have never seen a person so earnest in choosing a menu.
Despite agonizing for nearly ten minutes, no one in our group could decide. Narsht-san went back to the cafeteria and told the kitchen about our decision making, coming back to us five times, before all of us finally decided what we wanted to eat, thirty minutes later.
"I'm sorry that it took so long."
"That's okay. I'll go make it now. Please wait for me."
After Narsht-san took the order and left quickly, I asked Niya-san a question.
"You seemed to be struggling with something. What was it?"
"It's a bit embarrassing, but I just couldn't decide on what to eat. I wanted to try everything!"
"Is that why you had so much trouble?"
"Yes, we've never eaten in a restaurant since we were born."
"What? You've never eaten in a restaurant before?"
I parrot back Niya-san unexpected words.
From the way she had just said that, I knew that she would not go into the restaurant unless the five of them were together, but I had not expected that she had never eaten there before.
"Master Neil knows that we're Ihomono, so I'll tell you the truth. In our world, meals are distributed to us and there are no such things as restaurants."
"But it's been five years since you came to this world, right? You didn't even go into a restaurant in those five years?"
"When we first came to this world, we were desperate just to survive and had no money to spare. All we could afford were cheap black bread and occasionally splurging on some dried meat. We couldn't afford to go to restaurants at that time."
"Speaking of dried meat, Master Neil, I have an interesting story to tell you." (Iko)
I tilted my head at Iko's words, wondering what an interesting story was about dried meat.
"In our world, all the food is paste and we don't chew it. Oh, do people in the Empire understand the word paste?"
"As I recall, paste is only understood in the Kingdom, isn't it?"
This world has many people coming from different places, resulting in a mixture of languages from different worlds.
There are differences depending on regions and countries, but since there is no one who can clearly distinguish which words are left by Ihomono and which are the words of this world, such words are treated as dialects.
It is said that the term "Nous" for fresh onions and "Kuum" for others originated from the empire, but there was a possibility that it was a word left by Ihomono.
And this paste-like distributed food is usually seen in science fiction movies.
If that is the case, the world where Niya-san and the others originally came from may be of a considerably high level of civilization.
"Um, can I think of it as mud with little moisture?"
"Oh, just like that, maybe the people in the empire can understand the paste?"
"No, it's just something I know from my own personal research, but I don't think it would be understood by people in the Empire."
The truth is, I didn't know it originally, but I couldn't be honest and tell her that.
"Well, that doesn't really matter. What's important is that we've never chewed and eaten before in our world. We had that hard dried meat for the first time when we came to this world. What do you think happened?"
"Since it was our first time eating solid food, we didn't know when to swallow it and ended up chewing the dried meat until it turned into a paste. As a result, our jaws hurt a lot."
Well, that's interesting.
I imagine the scene of these five people chewing until the dried meat turned into a paste and chuckle to myself.
"Well, I think dried meat is delicious. No, all the food in this world is tasty."
"Yes, I never really enjoyed the meals from my previous world. They were pretty tasteless and boring." (Niya)
"Then, did you ever want to go out to eat at a restaurant once you had extra money?"
"I did think about it, but by that point we already had a carriage and it was too risky to just leave it unattended outside while we went in to eat."
"Couldn't you have just left it with someone trustworthy?"
"We are not so careless as to leave it to a stranger. An empty carriage is one thing, but our carriage is our home and we have expensive things in it."
"What about taking turns standing guard?"
"Putting someone on guard duty isn't as simple as it sounds, especially in a crowded place like a city. You never know what kind of people could be lurking around. And even if we did have hired guards, it would only work if they were strong enough to fight off any potential threats."
I see, even if they set up a guard, some people might take aggressive measures because they underestimate the fact that they are women, and even if Iko-san, Mio-san, and Moona-san, who are working as prostitutes, stand guard, they can't get rid of such people, and there is a possibility that some strange people might come to them instead.
"So only Niya-san and Momoka-san, the two guards, can keep watch?"
"Actually, Momoka's too weak to fight."
"What? Then why is she escorting you all?"
"The work of a prostitute is hard work, and Momoka's body can't endure it. But she doesn't want to be the only one to do nothing, so she has been asked to be a bodyguard, though only a fake one. Even if I am the only one who can actually fight, it is safer to make it look like there are two people who can fight."
So, if Momoka is only a fake guard, then Niya-san is the only one who can actually guard the store, which means that Niya-san is the only one who can't enter the store, so she didn't want to be left out.
"So you mean that until now you only had bread, dried meat, and other meals that you could take back to your carriage and eat?"
"Yes, so I had never eaten anything like that before, and I had a hard time deciding what to eat when I looked at the menu."
I guess Niya-san and the others had been waiting for such an opportunity for a long time, so it was understandable that they were so troubled.
After that, while we were chatting for a while, Narsht-san brought the dishes with the slave girls.
"Thank you for your patience."
The four of us, except Niya-san, cheered as the food arrived.
Although Niya-san didn't let out a sound, her eyes were glued to the dish placed in front of her.
I asked for today's recommendation and ordered a steak because they had good meat, Niya-san ordered a hamburger steak, Iko-san ordered tempura, Mio-san and Moona-san ordered pasta, and Momoka-san ordered the same steak as I did.
"Well, take your time."
As Narsht-san and the others finished serving the food and left, not one person looked up from their dishes.
It was so quiet that I could almost hear the neighbors swallowing their spit, and I called out to Niya-san and the others, who had become motionless in front of their long-awaited food.
"Well then, shall we eat?"
"Yes! Well, then..."
"""""Let's eat (Itadakimasu)"""""
I can't help but open my eyes and stare at the five of them as they clasp their hands together and speak in unison.
Their pre-meal greetings were unmistakably the same as those of my former world, Japan.
"Excuse me, can I help you with something?"
"Oh, no, I was just surprised by the suddenness of the situation."
"Oh, I'm sorry, in our world it is customary to do this before meals. Don't you have this kind of greeting before meals in your world?"
"Not necessarily, but at least we don't have such a culture in our empire. If someone is an aristocrat, he/she cannot start eating without the head of the family's permission, so that is the closest we have."
Well, it was not a greeting but a permission from the head of the family, so it could hardly be called a pre-meal greeting, but that aside, let's talk about the greeting I just heard from Niya-san and others.
The world I heard from Niya-san and the others was very different from the one I was in, but the words used by the paste-like Niya-san and the pre-dinner greeting now suggest that they came from at least a similar world, if not the one I was in before.
Momoka-san is obviously a Japanese name, so it is very likely.
"Mmm, tempura is delicious, I never dreamed that the day when I can eat tempura would come."
"Did you have tempura in the world where you came from?"
"In a peaceful time, before we were born. We used to read gourmet magazines from the past and say, 'I'd love to try eating this with Mio someday.' So I was really excited to see my longtime dream come true."
"Hahaha, that's great to hear."
Gourmet magazines huh, I recall hearing that word before.
And if tempura existed in the past, then they might have come from a world similar to mine.
Well, what does it matter? I enjoyed my meal with Niya-san and the others, thinking that I would ask them about the world where they lived next time when I have time.
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