Chapter 157 Livestock Meat
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
Following the lead of a child named Neo, I played for a while and worked up a decent sweat. I then used the shower in the settlement to wash off the sweat.
”Phew… That feels refreshing. It’s not a bad idea to relax in a bathtub, but usually, this level of bathing is sufficient. Hey, Anzak, how about preparing something similar to this next to my private room?”
”As a jest, if you say something like that, Yosef’s admonishments will only increase.”
”It’s not as outrageous as saying to replace the throne with a swing, right?”
”On the day that order is given, surely Yosef’s blood vessels will burst.”
”The stubbornness of the Prime Minister’s mind is quite a challenge.”
”Yosef is not particularly inflexible, though…”
”Inflexible, especially when it comes to me.”
”Forgive me for speaking disrespectfully, but couldn’t it be due to Your Majesty’s actions…?”
Bantering like that, I reached the next destination, the dining hall. Upon entering, I found the dining hall surprisingly bustling, with a group of Dwarves drinking heavily catching my eye first. We sat at a table towards the back, away from that group, and picked up the menu placed on the table.
”There’s quite a variety.”
”Indeed, perhaps it’s because various vegetables are available regardless of the season.”
Certainly, these dishes would not be typically eaten at this time, but it’s only limited by the season. Although I had come all the way to the settlement, I wanted to try something unique that could only be eaten here. However, the menu didn’t seem to offer any particularly special dishes. I considered asking one of the staff, but even after looking around, all I saw were customers. There was no sign of servers either.
Just as I was about to call out to someone from the back, a man appeared from the depths of the establishment, leading a group of about seven women. Each of them held trays laden with food, heading towards the group of Dwarves.
”Here you go, ordered dishes.”
”Oh, Narsht, we’ve been waitin’! It took ya quite a while today. Thanks to that, our drinks ran dry before the dishes arrived! I’ll have seconds!”
”As quick a drinker as ever, aren’t you? Helene, sorry, but pick some random drink and serve it. I’ll take the orders from the other customers.”
Narsht said this as he glanced towards us.
”Is it alright to just pick randomly? Aren’t they supposed to take orders?”
”It’s fine as long as it’s alcohol. These guys will drink any liquid with alcohol content, even rainwater.”
”We can hear ya, Narsht!”
”Is it not true?”
”Hahaha! It’s definitely true! As long as it has alcohol, mud water works!”
”So, that’s why. Just serve whatever.”
Bantering with the Dwarves, Narsht came over to us.
”Welcome. You seem like new faces among the customers, but who are you?”
”Just a traveling merchant and their guard. Is it common here to ask about a customer’s background instead of taking orders?”
”It was just idle talk. I didn’t mean to do that. If it bothers you, I apologize.”
”No, it’s fine. More importantly, we’d like to place an order…”
”Sure, what’ll you have?”
As planned, I was about to ask if there were any dishes that can only be eaten in the settlement, but a mischievous thought came to me as I arrived here.
”Since we’ve come this far, I’d like to try a dish that’s unique to this place.”
”A dish unique to here?”
”Yeah, something interesting that can only be eaten here, something that would make for a good story.”
I had a fair idea about Narsht. If I was observing Neil, it was only natural that I’d notice the people around him. Narsht, as an individual, also gained temporary fame due to his new sauce development. Therefore, I was aware of events before and after that. It wasn’t something crucial, so I didn’t specifically verify it.
However, that sauce was probably completed with Neil’s assistance. If Narsht had managed to complete that sauce single-handedly, he should have been able to respond in some way to Duke Clement’s request, despite the difficulties. The fact that he couldn’t fulfill that, from the start, was proof that Narsht lacked such capability. Moreover, the fact that he had boasted as if he had accomplished it solely by his own abilities further solidified my impression that Narsht was rather shallow.
So, this was intended as a small annoyance towards the shameless person who was once disloyal to Neil but is now employed again.
”Hmm… There is a dish that might fulfill the customer’s request, but…”
”Oh? What kind of dish is it?”
”Well… it’s a dish centered around chicken.”
Upon hearing that the main ingredient was chicken, I involuntarily furrowed my brows.
”As I thought, that’s a natural reaction.”
”It’s only natural to react that way when people hear that chicken is the main ingredient.”
Meat from livestock, including chicken, was treated as inferior due to its poor taste. It was mainly used in ground form mixed with other meats to deceive the quantity, typically in small eateries or taverns. There were hardly any enthusiasts who willingly ate livestock meat, and using such meat as the main ingredient would not be a common consideration. However, I knew someone who did things that were not considered common.
”Is that dish something you came up with?”
As Narsht smoothly answered, I was about to conclude, “So, he’s indeed that kind of person.”
”However, it was thanks to Master Neil that I even came up with the idea of using chicken.”
”…Really? What do you mean?”
”I used to serve at the Count Atmiras’ estate. At that time, Master Neil told me he wanted a dish with fried chicken meat. Back then, I thought, ‘Livestock meat isn’t fit for nobles,’ and ‘It’s not something a cook like me should handle.’”
”Back then… Does that mean you feel differently now?”
”Otherwise, I wouldn’t make a dish centered around chicken. Master Neil would eventually taste it, and I couldn’t avoid tasting it myself. I reluctantly tried it back then, but thanks to that, I got to know the taste of chicken. Without Master Neil’s unreasonable request, I wouldn’t have come up with this idea.”
Saying so with a self-mocking smile, Narsht’s expression carried an air of pride somewhere within it. It was more about Neil than himself, and he seemed like a completely different person from the Narsht I had observed and heard about before.
”I see. I’m interested in trying the chicken dish you created. Can I order that?”
”Sure, give me a moment. If you’re hungry, I can bring something light to nibble on while you wait. What do you prefer?”
”Then, please bring that as well. It would be appreciated if you could choose a drink that pairs well with the dish.”
”Understood, please wait a moment.”
After confirming Narsht taking the order and heading to the back, Anzak leaned in and spoke in a quiet voice that wouldn’t be heard by the other customers.
”Your Majesty, what are you thinking with this chicken dish?”
”What do you mean? I just wanted to try a dish created by him. I’m not thinking much… for now.”
”So, depending on the result, you might start thinking about something. Please refrain from doing anything that will cause Yosef’s lightning to strike.”
”Don’t worry, I won’t give him the time to lecture me.”
”…Yosef, you have my pity.”
Deciding that it was futile to say anything to me, Anzak quietly offered a silent prayer to the Prime Minister. While it seemed excessive since I wasn’t going to die, after waiting for a while, Narsht returned holding a tray with a larger plate and two wine glasses.
”Sorry for the wait. Here’s the special fried potatoes and Kitorene.”
”Kitorene? That’s an unfamiliar name for a drink.”
”Master Neil soaked lemon and various herbs in medicinal alcohol to make this original drink. It pairs well with fried food. Anyway, I’ll get back to preparing the dishes. Please enjoy.”
After watching Narsht’s back as he retreated to the back, I shifted my gaze to the table. Since he deliberately labeled it as “special,” there must be something different about these fried potatoes.
”First, let’s do a taste test—ah!”
Ignoring Anzak’s uncouth remark about a taste test, I reached for the fried potatoes with my fork. The moment the fork pierced the surface of the fried potato, a satisfyingly crisp sensation was transmitted.
With hope, I brought it to my mouth, and I was about to let out an involuntary groan at the taste. Just as I had anticipated, this wasn’t simply fried potatoes; a thin batter made of water and wheat flour had been coated on them, resulting in a crisper texture than regular fried potatoes. Moreover, the batter wasn’t just to add texture; it also contained several types of spices mixed in. It was a step above ordinary fried potatoes that were simply salted.
”This is delicious. Anzak, you should try some too.”
”Uh, sure… If you insist.”
Anzak, who was muttering that the roles were reversed, opened his eyes wide in surprise the moment he put a fried potato in his mouth.
”This is indeed delicious. The crispy texture and the depth of flavor, aside from the spices, there’s something else mixed in, right?”
”It’s probably the fat from the meat. These fried potatoes are remarkably well-made, beyond what you’d expect.”
After expressing our thoughts, I took a sip from my wine glass. The lemon and herb aroma washed away the heaviness in my mouth from the fried potatoes’ oil.
”This drink is also well-crafted.”
When I first heard that Neil started making alcohol, I had him produce a few types out of curiosity. However, I felt that the quality had improved since then. It might be a good idea to have all the varieties made and then find the one I like best.
After that, Anzak and I enjoyed the fried potatoes and booze, discussing what spices might be in the fried potatoes and what kind of meat fat was mixed in. When both the food and drink were almost gone, Narsht reappeared.
”Sorry to keep you waiting. Here’s the ordered chicken dish.”
Saying so, Narsht placed three different chicken dishes and refilled glasses of wine on the table. Faced with the three distinctly different dishes, I first turned my attention to the one that seemed easiest to identify: minced and grilled chicken meat, formed into a patty.
”Are all of these made from chicken meat?”
”Yeah, no other type of meat is used. But I’ve mixed in various things other than the meat.”
At Narsht’s words, I picked up a knife and fork. At first glance, it looked like a hamburger made from chicken meat, but the sauce poured over it was translucent, with a light brown color. The sauce had thickened and clung well to the meat. To confirm the identity of this unusual sauce, I cut the dish into bite-sized pieces and brought one to my mouth.
”Oh, this is delicious!”
As soon as I took a bite, my sincere reaction naturally spilled out. The translucent and lightly brown sauce had a concentrated flavor that belied its pale appearance. It was rich with the essence of vegetables and had a slight tang, perhaps from vinegar. Despite its intensity, it left a refreshing aftertaste.
As for the main component, the chicken meat patty, it contained not only spices but also finely chopped ingredients other than meat. When I chewed it, it had a slightly crispy texture and released a succulent broth.
”I’m surprised. I thought chicken meat would be dry and tasteless, but this is moist and tender.”
”I add milk to the mixture to prevent it from becoming dry. By the way, if you’re using phrases like that, have you perhaps eaten chicken before?”
”Once, when I went on a trip and accidentally ran out of provisions. I asked a nearby village if they could sell me some meat and vegetables, and they gave me some chicken. I’m not a cook, and I don’t have proper facilities, so I plucked the feathers, gutted it, and roasted it whole. It didn’t turn out well. Not just the taste, but the meat was scarce, and I thought it wasn’t worth the effort.”
The meat was dry and tough, with a distinct odor. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that it’s no wonder chicken meat is considered inferior when I first tasted livestock meat.
”However, it’s amazing how much it can transform with proper cooking.”
Although various ingredients were mixed into this chicken dish, it wasn’t to mask the natural characteristics of the chicken meat. On the contrary, it enhanced those characteristics, elevating what was usually considered an undesirable trait in chicken meat into something delicious.
After thoroughly enjoying the first dish, Anzak and I turned our attention to the next dish with great anticipation.
”This… could it be chicken skin?”
”Exactly, it’s chicken skin fried along with a variety of herbs in the copious fat that comes out.”
I pierced the crispy, fox-colored skin with a fork and put it in my mouth. The fat-drained chicken skin had a crunchy texture, and as I bit into it, the remaining fat oozed out of the skin with a satisfying juiciness. I couldn’t resist and took a big gulp of booze, using it to cleanse my mouth of the fat.
”Phew…! This is amazing! It’s the perfect accompaniment to the booze!”
Unlike the first dish, this one was quite simple, but as someone who had eaten elaborate dishes to the point of getting tired of them, I actually preferred simpler dishes like this.
However, calling it simple doesn’t mean you can just grill chicken skin and call it a day. If you did that, the smell would likely be off-putting. The reason it’s so delicious is undoubtedly due to the mixed herbs that were sautéed together. Anzak seemed to like it too, as he silently continued to put chicken skin in his mouth and wash it down with wine.
With great satisfaction, we finished the second dish and finally turned our attention to the last three dishes.
”Now, what’s this?”
Since we had chosen the easy-to-identify ones first, it was only natural that there would be something unfamiliar left for the end. At first glance, it looked like meat, but the color was quite dark for chicken meat, and it gave the impression of being quite tough.
While it was undoubtedly a part of the chicken’s body since it was a chicken dish, it was clear that it differed from the previous two dishes. I couldn’t even imagine which part of the chicken it might be.
”I can’t tell. Anzak, how about you?”
”I’m stumped too.”
”Both of you give up, huh? Alright then, let’s reveal the answer. That right there is the gizzard, also known as the ventriculus.”
”Gizzard? Could it be the stomach?”
”Correct, it’s called ventriculus because it’s a stomach made of muscle.”
”But… can you eat the stomach?”
”Otherwise, why would I serve it like this?”
Narsht responded to Anzak’s question with a slightly exasperated tone.
”You do eat things like stuffed intestines, right? If you think about it that way, eating the gizzard shouldn’t be a big deal.”
”True, considering it’s an organ, there’s some aversion. But if you think of it as just meat, since it’s made of muscles, there’s no issue.”
Saying so, I placed the chicken gizzard in my mouth without hesitation. As expected, the gizzard was tough, but when I bit into it, it was surprisingly easy to chew. It had a crunchy texture, and although it had a distinctive flavor different from meat or skin, the sprinkled pepper softened that flavor. With each bite, a subtle sweetness emerged, and the salt accentuated that delicate sweetness.
”This is interesting. The crunchy texture is particularly nice. It’s not as peculiar as I thought, and it’s easy to eat.”
”Right? When Master Neil told me ‘You can eat the gizzard too,’ I was honestly skeptical, but when I tried it, it was delicious. Recently, my evening drinks have been these gizzards and chicken skin.”
I wasn’t someone who favored evening drinks, but with this, I found myself wanting to partake. Initially, when I heard about dishes made with chicken, I thought they wouldn’t be too bad, but it seemed I had underestimated the true value of chicken and Narsht. Chicken was not a meat to be scorned as inferior.
However, realizing its true worth was possible only because of Narsht, the cook who had an extraordinary talent. Despite being poked fun at as food for the poor, there were certainly those who had eaten chicken before, and among them were surely cooks. Yet, until now, no one had recognized its true value.
This was proof that Narsht had an exceptional skill in making the most of ingredients, and the primary factor that allowed this talent to flourish was Neil’s presence. Without a doubt, if Neil hadn’t been there, Narsht wouldn’t have paid any attention to chicken and would have focused only on ingredients considered delicious. Observing around Neil truly yielded interesting findings. This chicken dish made by Narsht, it might be of use.
”Do you like them? What would you name these three dishes?”
”Ah… well, about that, I haven’t decided yet. I hadn’t even thought about whether to put them on the menu.”
I wondered why, but I quickly arrived at the answer.
”Because it’s made from livestock meat?”
”No matter how tight the finances are, no restaurant would serve dishes made only from livestock meat. As you’ve tasted, the flavor doesn’t lose to dishes made with other types of meat. But somehow, serving dishes made from livestock meat just has a bad reputation.”
”Still concerned about reputation?”
”I’ve already hit rock bottom once, so I don’t care what people say about me. But this is Master Neil’s establishment. Master Neil says he doesn’t mind, but imagining that serving dishes made from livestock meat at a restaurant run by a noble could tarnish Master Neil’s reputation… I just can’t bring myself to do it.”
No matter how good the taste might be, the fact that chicken meat was called inferior meat remained unchanged. Serving it at a restaurant would only lead to ridicule as poor cuisine, and there would be few who would pay to order it.
However, as someone who was considering incorporating this dish into my plans, this situation was actually quite favorable. I imagined the days to come and quietly chuckled to myself.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.