Bon Appétit - Chapter 19
TL/N: Tangsuyuk (탕수육) is a sweet and sour pork/beef. I’ll use ‘sweet and sour pork’ for the translation.
In a way, the cuisine of this era had a simple aspect. It felt like we were looking at an era before cooking had developed yet. The meat is grilled or boiled and topped with spices. It was because spices were a symbol of wealth. It didn’t taste bad, but it felt like something was lacking for Luana, who was used to various modern dishes.
Luana looked satisfied after dropping the batter into a pot poured with a large amount of oil. Curiosity began to flow on the faces of the chefs, who watched with dissatisfaction the whole time.
Among them, Luana quickly started cooking.
‘Sweet and sour pork!’
Luana completed the dish she wanted to make.
Luana fries the meat and drains the oil. After that, she cut the vegetables and made a chili sauce to match the dish.
When Luana took the dish and put it in her mouth, it made a crunchy sound. Next came the soft and savory meat. As she chewed it, the overflowing juices filled her mouth. It tasted great even without the dipping sauce.
Seeing Luana’s happy expression, the cooks started arguing among themselves. But she didn’t mind them and put the finished dish on a plate.
She put the portion as much as possible for the duke and moderately for the emperor.
She placed the plate on the tray. Then she grabbed the tray’s handle and pushed it towards the palace’s dining room. Instead of the familiar duke’s knight, she was guided by another knight who she saw for the first time.
The massive door opened silently, and as Luana entered the dining room, she saw a long table. The emperor sat at the first seat, and the duke next to him was waiting for her.
The tension made her mouth water. The servant waiting inside picked up the plate from the tray and set it down in front of the emperor and the duke.
‘It’s the other way round!’
The servant was the one who served the dish elegantly, but she made one mistake, she was confused with the plate. To help the duke gain some weight, a large portion of the dish was made for him, but the servant placed the dish in front of the emperor instead of the duke. Luana was embarrassed, but she couldn’t change the plate’s already in place.
“What’s this food called?”
“It’s sweet and sour pork.”
“Oh, I’ve never heard of it.”
“I sliced the meat thinly, coated it with batter, and deep fried it.”
“I put the meat in hot oil and drain the oil.”
“But it’s still delicious.”
While the two were talking about food, the duke had already tried the dish, and he was still staring at the talking emperor.
“Hurry up and eat. Fried food tastes good when it’s hot!”
At those words, the emperor also raised his fork. Usually, the maid in charge of the tasting had to eat first, but there were exceptional times like now he dined with the duke. As the duke had mastered all poisons, the emperor somewhat believed the duke that the dish wasn’t poisonous.
The duke who ate the sweet and sour pork said,
“There is no poison.”
“I didn’t put poison in!”
Then the emperor took the sweet and sour pork with a fork. He put it in his mouth with an expressionless face, and then his eyes widened.
The warm and savory sweet and sour pork melted in his mouth. His mouth is full, and his expression is relaxed.
“Try dipping it in the sauce.”
There were two kinds of people. People who liked to pour the sauce and dip it into the sauce. Luana was one of the dipping lovers. Pouring it wasn’t bad, but how can someone give up the crispy texture?
The emperor, who was busy eating, dipped the sweet and sour pork in chili sauce. The slightly spicy yet sweet taste harmonized with the savory flavor, and a feast of taste unfolded in his mouth.
It was a taste that made him smile without realizing it. The duke had emptied all his plates and waited calmly for the emperor.
“Should I fry more?”
Luana calmly spoke to the duke. And as soon as the duke nodded, she disappeared with vigor.
“She really is a good cook.”
In the meantime, the emperor put down his fork and spoke. He thought of giving more rewards to the duke other than the witch, but now he didn’t think he had to. The witch alone was an excellent reward for the duke.
More than anything, he can feel the taste.
“I can’t believe the duke is eating so deliciously. I can’t believe my eyes.”
“Because the dish was delicious.”
The witch is great. She revived the duke’s sense of taste that prevented him from eating properly due to the curse.
“That’s a shame.”
Since Luana said cooking was her specialty, this would not be the only thing she was good at. It was Ingrid who the emperor coveted, but for a moment, he also wanted Luana.
“She is mine.”
The duke, who noticed the emperor’s meaning, immediately spoke. It was surprising because he was usually dedicated to the emperor just by showing his face. The emperor, who looked surprised for a moment, then burst into laughter.
“Hahaha, do you mean it, Legion?”
“Yes, she is mine.”
The emperor didn’t expect this cold man would make such a claim. He couldn’t stop laughing at Legion. He knew he was desperate, and he claimed her that way. Doesn’t it seem like he likes the youngest princess with his cold expression?!
“I see, do you like the princess?”
When the emperor asked with a smile, the Duke finally looked back on what he had said. It was undoubtedly a misleading statement.
“It’s not like that.”
“Really? Come to think of it, isn’t it time for the duke to get married?”
“It’s really not. Please stop teasing me.”
“I’m not teasing you, though?”
“Fine, that’s enough. But this dish is really great. I want it, too. Oh, of course I’m talking about the dish, not asking for who the Duke wanted.”
“I know you don’t.”
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The emperor still couldn’t give up teasing the duke. And even though he knew it was a joke, the duke felt displeasure, and it gnawed on his nerves. Normally, he would have passed it as if nothing had happened.
While one was laughing and puzzled by his unfamiliar emotions, the food arrived.
“Sweet and sour pork is here again!”
The emperor clapped his hands and said,
“Shall we continue to eat?”
The two enjoyed the new portion of the sweet and sour pork. And after the meal, the emperor said to Luana,
“Please visit the palace from time to time.”
Luana answered blankly, and the duke placed his hand on his forehead.
‘I can’t believe you answered so innocently over there.’
Now Legion has to bring Luana to the Imperial Palace from time to time. Whether or not she knew the duke’s thoughts, Luana smiled face to face with the emperor.
‘Do you really not fall for him?’
Legion looked at Luana suspiciously. So far, there has not been a single woman who has not fallen in love with the emperor. Even the women who were destroyed and dragged from their country would sing their love—knowing that it was natural for the duke not to trust Luana.
So he asked in the carriage on the way from the palace to the mansion.
“How was his majesty?”
“He is beautiful!”
Luana replied cheerfully.
“I think I’ve never met such a beautiful person.”
Even though the emperor was described as a beauty in the novel, it seemed like he was not as good as that in reality. However, the emperor still looks like an angel that has descended.
“Did you fall in love with him?”
Luana tilted her head.
‘Fall in love?’
No, Luana didn’t think so. Because no matter how beautiful he was, Luana also had her own taste. To put it bluntly, she preferred someone who looked like a demon to an angel, just like the duke in front of her.
Luana answered, but the duke still did not seem to believe her.
“It’s really not. He’s not my taste.”
“Your Majesty is everyone’s taste.”
“For me, Sir Legion is much closer to my taste than to His Majesty.”
The duke was speechless for a moment at the calm words Luana uttered. As if she didn’t know anything, the duke’s ears burned at the gaze that looked at him.
“You have a strange taste.”
“What do you mean by strange? It’s definitely personal preference. Please respect my taste!”
“No, you’re really strange.”
The duke buried his face in his hands.
‘What the hell is wrong with her? Does someone usually talk about this in front of the person involved? She is both amazing and ridiculous.’
“It is not. By the way, are you sick? Your ears are burning.”
“No, I’m not sick.”
“Should I call a doctor just in case?”
“No, it’s not. Nevermind.”
Luana sat down again calmly and put her hands on her lap. Then, after a while, she put her hands together and carefully reached out in front of her.
“So what’s the present?”
“You said you’d give me a present if I didn’t fall in love with His Majesty!”
“Oh, I did. Is there anything you want?”
“I want a kitchen!”
The answer came quickly. Since Luana had a unique way of cooking, it was burdensome for her to share the kitchen with others. She has to dry the fermented soybean lump, and later she has to make the sauce with it.
“I’ll give you an empty annex. You can use the kitchen there.”
She doesn’t want anything grandiose. All she wants is a kitchen. The duke laughed unconsciously.
Meanwhile, the carriage stopped. When Luana opened the door and got off, she saw the darkened sky.
The gentle-looking older man standing in front of the Duke bowed his head. Luana bows to the man as well. After raising her head, she made eye contact with the older man. His calm eyes shook like a ship facing a storm.
“You have a guest.”
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Somehow his voice sounded excited.
“Shall we prepare a room? How long are you staying?”
“She’ll stay for a while.”
“All right. We’ll do our best to serve you!”
Gradually his voice grew louder. It seemed that something had been misunderstood, but the duke was so calm that even Luana couldn’t say anything. So the first day at the duke’s mansion began.