Chapter 137 Narsht’s progress
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
A few days after discovering the cause, I came up with one solution: to obtain seeds from outside and plant them. If the change in taste of crops is the result of adaptive evolution, then by obtaining and replanting seeds from crops with bad taste, I can reset the taste to normal. It’s certainly much easier than growing them normally by hand, but there are a couple of issues. First, I need to regularly acquire seeds, and second, there’s no guarantee that seeds will be available at any time. However, this is just a temporary solution; there is another main solution.
That solution involves utilizing the rapid generational turnover in the pioneer settlement for breeding and improving varieties. If there are crops that don’t grow well in the current environment, we can create crops that do grow well on our own. Since I don’t possess specialized knowledge in breeding, I’ll have to start from scratch and rely on trial and error. For now, I’ve designated a portion of the vast field, which was growing too fast for me to handle, as an experimental area and started growing various crops.
”It’s quite chaotic, isn’t it?”
”Well, I collected and planted seeds indiscriminately.”
As I gazed at the experimental field, Narsht-san and I stood side by side, having a conversation.
”Gathering from various origins, harvesting at different times, and even including non-edible ones. What are you planning to do with such a collection?”
”Because the settlement’s environment is unique. I have no idea how things will change or if something extraordinary will emerge.”
”So, you’ve been collecting them indiscriminately.”
”If it goes well, we might discover new ingredients that have never existed before.”
”New ingredients? That sounds exciting.”
As a cook, Narsht-san seemed genuinely delighted, with a smile on his face, as he looked at the field.
”By the way, Narsht-san, have you come up with any good solutions?”
”Well, the conclusion I reached was that in order to compete with the strong flavors of the settlement’s vegetables, we need ingredients with equally strong flavors. I did come up with a few ideas, though.”
”What kind of solutions did you come up with?”
”One approach is to add strong flavors during the cooking process. By simmering meat together with sauce and vegetables, the flavors will blend, and at least the overall taste won’t be diluted by the meat. However, that would make most meat dishes turn into stews, and I wouldn’t be able to create delicate dishes that highlight the natural flavors of the ingredients.”
”So, it didn’t work unless the ingredients themselves had strong flavors from the beginning?”
”I still have other ideas. This is an advancement from the previous idea. It involves using pre-seasoned meat, such as smoked meat or sausages, before cooking.”
I see. If we use processed meat like bacon or sausages, which can be eaten as they are, it might be possible to balance them with the taste of the settlement’s vegetables. However…
”But even if we achieve a balance in taste, how would it work as the main dish of a meat dish?”
”You’re right. Processed meat is processed meat; it can’t replace fresh meat. If we offer smoked meat instead of a properly cooked steak, for example…”
”In that case, customers would still want to have a proper steak made from fresh meat.”
Um, when we discussed it again, it really is a difficult problem. There are a few things that come to mind, which have a strong flavor comparable to raw meat but the cost of obtaining such ingredients is unknown. Naturally, the prices of dishes served in popular restaurants would become high, making it impossible for them to be offered. When I was contemplating that this might be a more challenging issue than crop breeding, Narsht-san spoke up.
”Master Neil, do you remember the time when you used to place orders for my dishes?”
”Huh? Well, yeah, I remember. I thought I was being unreasonable, and honestly, I felt sorry for imposing on Narsht-san.”
While feeling perplexed by the sudden nostalgic talk, I reminisced about those days. At that time, I had grown tired of the meals in this world and was hoping to have something closer to the dishes from my original world. I used the knowledge I had gleaned from TV and manga to place various orders for dishes prepared by Narsht-san. I considered myself a difficult child, and I’m sure Narsht-san must have been tired of dealing with me back then.
”In that case, do you remember the dish you requested as my last order, just before I left the Count Atmiras’s household?”
By the last order, Narsht-san must be referring to the one I requested before they completed the sauce and left. The taste of the sauce that Narsht-san had created was truly magnificent. However, the finished sauce was different from what I knew, and my desire for dishes from my original world remained unfulfilled. In order to satisfy that craving, I pondered if there was a dish that could be easily replicated in this world and requested Narsht-san to make it.
”Yes, I remember. It was a dish of deep-fried chicken.”
”Ah, yes. I was really surprised back then. I never expected you to request chicken.”
The dish I requested from Narsht-san was nothing extraordinary; it was a simple dish of fried chicken. The cooking method and ingredients were relatively straightforward, and though there were a few ingredients that couldn’t be obtained here, such as soy sauce and sake, the seasoning could be substituted with salt if necessary, and white wine could replace sake. The other ingredients posed no problem, and I thought I could make fried chicken with them. However, things didn’t go as planned.
”That was a difficult time, indeed. People around us desperately tried to dissuade me, saying that chicken and other livestock meats were not meant for nobility.”
”Hahaha… I really caused you a lot of trouble back then…”
Yes, in this world, chicken meat, or rather, livestock meat in general, was considered inferior. This was because the common meat consumed in this world came from animals and monsters obtained through hunting, while livestock were primarily raised for eggs, milk, fur, or labor, with meat being a byproduct rather than the primary purpose. There were very few livestock specifically raised for consumption. However, there was a significant movement in the kingdom in the past to raise livestock for consumption.
The kingdom is open to adopting foreign technologies, and it’s likely that they heard about the concept of livestock for consumption from Ihomono and attempted to implement it. However, the results were mostly failures. Improving the rearing environment alone didn’t yield the expected results, and the feed conversion rate was extremely poor. In my original world, livestock meant for meat consumption underwent selective breeding to achieve larger sizes and faster growth, as well as other improvements for meat production.
On the other hand, in this world, the livestock breeds were only focused on milk or egg production, and changing the rearing methods didn’t yield the desired results. The feed costs until the animals reached an edible size were significant, and even after raising them, the amount of meat obtained wasn’t substantial. The taste of the meat from these raised animals, after investing money and effort, was only marginally better than that of the exhausted livestock. Naturally, many people withdrew from such endeavors early on, and except for a few exceptions, the status of livestock meat remained low.
Discussing the exceptions would digress from the topic, so let’s save that for another time. In any case, in this world, meat from animals and monsters obtained through hunting or other means was considered better. In fact, the taste was superior, and depending on the item, the price could vary, but it was often more delicious than livestock meat and affordable even for commoners.
As a result, the price of livestock meat naturally became cheaper, and unless one was a destitute person struggling with food and money, the common perception in this world was not to consume tough and smelly meat from livestock. So when I, a noble, wanted to eat such meat, the servants strongly advised against it, saying it was meant for the poor. Normally, I would have given up at the point of being dissuaded, but at that time, I really wanted to eat fried chicken, and I strongly opposed the words of the servants.
The servants were greatly surprised by my unusual rebellion, but as servants, they couldn’t possibly serve me livestock meat. When neither side would back down, the head of the Atmiras, in other words, my father, intervened and said the following.
”I understand the curiosity to know what livestock meat tastes like and how the poor survive with their food. It can be a good learning experience. Very well, I grant you permission.”
Thanks to my father’s decisive approval, I was finally able to fulfill my long-awaited desire to eat fried chicken… but it turned out differently than I expected.
”I can still vividly remember it. The expression on Master Neil’s face when you took the first bite of the prepared dish.”
”Well, I was prepared for some odor, but I didn’t expect it to be that overpowering.”
Naturally, there are no chickens raised specifically for consumption, so there are no young chickens to be expected. What we could acquire were discarded hens after their egg-laying period, so I considered the toughness and odor of the meat to be unavoidable. I optimistically believed that by adding plenty of garlic, ginger, and white wine, I could manage to mask the odor. However, the distinct flavor of chicken meat in this world was so overpowering that such efforts were in vain.
The deep amber-colored crispy coating emitted an enticing aroma, but the moment I bit into it and the distinctive odor burst forth, I couldn’t help but grimace. I never anticipated the flavor to be so overwhelming. Nonetheless, I still wanted to enjoy delicious fried chicken, so I asked Narsht-san if there was any way to eliminate this flavor while keeping the essential part of frying the chicken in wheat flour. I left the rest up to Narsht-san to experiment with. The result was that the overpowering flavor diminished, and the chicken became much easier to eat.
However, it seemed that in order to achieve that, a variety of spices had been used. The dish felt more like consuming spices rather than chicken itself. In the end, I couldn’t enjoy the fried chicken I had desired. Well, it was just the fried chicken that didn’t turn out well. After that, I tried again with a different bird and managed to satisfy my craving for fried food, but it wasn’t exactly the fried chicken I had initially wanted.
”But why are we talking about that now?”
”Well, that’s because it’s the third solution I came up with.”
”Solution…? Wait, are you suggesting using chicken?”
”Yes, I thought that if we combine chicken meat with the vegetables from the settlement, it wouldn’t get overshadowed by their taste.”
”Indeed, chicken meat can hold its own against the vegetables from the settlement, or rather, it can be so assertive that it overpowers the vegetable flavors. Plus, it has its distinct flavor.”
”Whether to turn that flavor into something delicious or not is a test of the chef’s skills. At that time, I could only think of eliminating that flavor since chicken meat was not something we could easily obtain. But then I remembered how I was able to create something delicious using ingredients that I had previously belittled as second-rate or third-rate in a run-down tavern. It made me realize how I had been running away from the ingredients as a chef.”
”Running away from ingredients?”
”Yes, thinking that I can only create delicious dishes with top-quality ingredients is nothing more than running away. I believe that a true chef is someone who can create delicious dishes with any ingredients.”
Those words reminded me of Narsht-san from three years ago when he had lost confidence and thought he was unfit to be a chef. But the significant difference now is that the current Narsht-san is filled with confidence as a chef. He has transformed the words of despair from that time into a determination to become a top-class chef and is now making great progress.
”Well, it’s about time for me to start my evening preparations, so I’ll take my leave.”
”Oh, is it already that late? Oh no, I need to hurry.”
”That’s unusual. Do you have something to do?”
”Yes, actually I made a promise with Moona-san.”
”Moona? Come to think of it, the Sincere Dwarves were talking about progress in the construction of the brothel… I see.”
Narsht-san smiled knowingly, as if he had sensed something.
”Perhaps I should have served you something invigorating for breakfast.”
”Stop making strange assumptions. That’s not what I meant.”
Moona-san approached me not because I’m the leader of the settlement and she wanted to entertain me, it was not for that reason. The brothel, which is nearing completion thanks to the Sincere Dwarves, encompasses Moona-san’s ideals. However, it is the ideal brothel from Moona-san’s perspective as a prostitute. Even though it’s the ideal brothel from the prostitute’s perspective, Moona-san wants to please the customers, so essentially, it becomes the ideal brothel for the customers. But no matter how much she tries to accommodate the customers, the perspective of the prostitute and the customer will always differ.
That’s why Moona-san wanted my opinion, to see the brothel from the customer’s point of view. I asked why she sought my opinion, not just the opinions of the Sincere Dwarves who were using the brothel. Moona-san explained that the brothel she wanted to create was not the typical brothel in this world but rather something based on the brothels in the world where she originally came from. Since I have memories of a world that is similar to Moona-san’s world, she wanted my opinion.
However, it’s unfortunate that I have zero experience with women from my previous world, and I’ve never even been to a brothel due to fear. So my knowledge of such establishments is only based on unreliable information I might have come across on the internet. Even after confirming that it was okay, she still asked me to visit the brothel at least once. I denied Narsht-san’s concerns, but he didn’t believe me until the end. He said, “I’ll prepare a menu for tonight’s dinner that seems good for recovery from fatigue,” and swiftly left.
So, left alone in the field, I couldn’t break the promise with Moona-san. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t fall for Narsht-san’s suggestions and headed towards the brothel where Moona-san was waiting.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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