Chapter 67: The Mid-Level Match – The Noodle Cooking Battle!
「Okay. Restaurant owner Mina and the blood-sucking aristocrat Alucard. Both of you seemed to have finished cooking.」
「Yes. My dish is complete. 」
「The same with me. I, Alucard aid of the Demon King, have also completed my dish.」
「All right. Let us taste both dishes.」
Upon hearing that statement, Mina-chan poured everything she had into her dish and took it to our table and the judges’ table.
「This is… 」
The Gourmet Master spoke with a voice of surprise upon seeing Mina-chan’s dish. Some of the judges even voiced their confusion.
Naturally. The food that Mina-chan presented to us was just udon. It was nothing special.
「It is Kitsune Udon*. Please enjoy it. 」
It was a very simple dish made with just a few ingredients. Mina-chan’s opponent, Alucard, laughed with a disappointing look on his face.
「Oh my, oh my…Are you kidding me? Do you really think that you will win against me with this type of dish?」
Alucard thought that Mina-chan’s dish was an insult to his elaborate dish.
「There is no excuse. I did no tricks. I served the best noodle dish I could serve. That’s all.」
Mina-chan was not intimidated by Alucard’s words. Instead, she looked at him with determined eyes.
「Well, calm down. Cooking is still cooking. No matter what kind of dish you both serve, that is up to each of you. We are going to taste the dishes and evaluate them accordingly.」
The judges, including the Gourmet Master, nodded to Mina-chan’s strong determination. Then, each judge picked up chopsticks and ate the udon noodles in front of Mina-chan.
「Oh, this is… 」
「Hmm, it is so delicious. Although It’s a simple dish, you made the best use of each ingredient.」
「The soup also has a gentle flavor and is very fragrant. Is this kelp? 」
「Yes. The soup is a food that I always use at home. I chose an ingredient that goes best with udon noodles.」
Alucard laughed when he heard Mina-chan’s response. He also sipped Mina-chan’s udon, but laughed as if it were nothing special.
「It certainly has a good taste, but that’s just it. You presented a dish without any ingenuity or originality. Such a plain udon. All the ingredients you used are commercially available. It hurts my pride because you are using a simple restaurant set meal to compete with my dish.」
Having said that, Alucard presented his own noodle dish after the judges finished tasting Mina-chan’s udon noodles.
「Oh, this is. 」
「It looks quite magnificent. 」
Alucard served a splendid pasta dish filled with seafood, chili peppers, tomato sauce and a variety of other ingredients.
「I present you my special Puttanesca**. Enjoy this meal. 」
「It’s a tomato sauce-style pasta using seafood, olives, and peppers. It’s also known as the whore-style pasta.」
My father explained it to me. Ahh, I see. I felt a little reluctant to taste a dish with that kind of meaning, but it was quite delicious in the end!
「Yeah! This is such an exciting taste! 」
「Is this Bahanero? However, it has more flavor than usual Bahanero. It is not only spicy, but it also has an elegant taste.」
「Just like what happened with the previous Mapo Tofu; the food presented on the Demon King’s side is not only spicy, but also delicious. Even those who are not good at spicy foods can grab the chopsticks without any problems and eat this type of food.」
「It’s a very unusual type of Bahanero. This type is only born in pairs, and it can only be found in some regions. However, because of its preciousness, both taste and spiciness are rich and are far higher than ordinary Bahanero.」
「I see. Moreover, the flavor is emphasized by mixing it with the sweet seafood. The secret taste in this seafood dish is probably…」
「Yes, it’s the pearl oyster. 」
Alucard reacted to the Gourmet Master’s words. Certainly, the pearl-like oysters were hidden within the red sauce as if they were mixed with the pasta.
「Oysters are also known as sea milk, and among them, there is this pearl oyster, which is regarded as a special ingredient with an A-rank value. The pearl oysters have a shell made of steel. Therefore, it is impossible to take them out unless someone has a legendary weapon. However, if someone forcibly crushes the shell of the pearl oyster to take out the contents, the inside will be tense and the original taste will be impaired. Therefore, I used the magical eye enchantment.」
With that said, Alucard’s eyes glowed mysteriously. What… When I looked at those eyes, I felt suddenly fluffy and sleepy…
「Oops, excuse me. As you may know now, our blood-sucking people have the ability to control the spirit of the other person; it’s called the Evil Eye. When it comes to a high-ranking species like mine, it becomes easy to pursue certain ingredients who also act as non-visual beings. In order words, my powers allowed the pearl oysters to relax their spirits and show me their contents.」
「I see. Bahanero with pearl oysters. A harmony between seafood and mountain food that brings the best in sweetness and spiciness. The taste of a high-class prostitute who can have every customer she wants.*** You embodied this dish brilliantly. Truly wonderful. I’ve never eaten a pasta like this before.」
Alucard’s Puttanesca was highly acclaimed by the Gourmet Master. Certainly, Alucard’s food was the most delicious pasta dish I had ever eaten.
「First-class ingredients by a first-class chef like myself, and a first-class dish made by my first-class cooking methods. Do you understand, girl? This is what I call “real food”.」
Alucard declared that he had won. However, according to his declaration, Alucard’s food was the perfect dish without any errors.
「Now, let’s move on to the discussions. 」
After that, the judges, including the Gourmet Master, discussed the dishes. Normally, the judges decided the victory or defeat in a short time, but this time, the discussion took a long time. How unusual.
However, no matter how much time they spent with their discussions, the result would not change. I saw such confidence not only from Alucard, but also from the Demon King’s side.
Eventually, the discussions were over, and the Gourmet Master announced the name of the winner.
「Okay then. I shall announce the name of the winner of the third round, the mid-level match “Noodle dish”.」
Alucard smiled and quietly closed his eyes. He looked extremely convinced and expected for the Gourmet Master to announce his name.
「The winner is…the Valkyrie side, “restaurant owner” Mina. 」
「Heh, did you understand? This is the outcome for mediocre girls like you…」
Alucard spoke the lines he prepared in his mind to ridicule Mina-chan. However, Alucard stiffened for a moment when he heard the winner’s name. After regaining his posture, Alucard turned to the Gourmet Master.
「No way!? Why, Gourmet Master!! 」
It was certainly an astonishing result. Regarding the two dishes, the one that was definitely delicious was the Puttanesca dish from Alucard. Ninety-nine out of a hundred would agree with this, and based on the taste, I was convinced that he would be the winner.
「Why did my food lose to such an ordinary dish! I want a convincing explanation!!」
「Then, try eating this girl’s food again. 」
When asked, Alucard ate the udon noodles made by Mina-chan again. He tasted it many times over. Was there a secret taste in there? Was there any hidden mechanisms? While exploring every aspect of the dish, he felt convinced that there was nothing in there at all.
「I knew it. This dish has a normal taste. In this case, I should be the winner because my food definitely tastes better!」
「You’re right. It’s definitely your victory when it comes to taste. 」
The Gourmet Master nodded upon hearing Alucard’s words. The Gourmet Master answered Alucard, who continued to ask, “If so, why?”
「Okay then, let me tell you this. Based on your food and the girl’s food, “Which one will you eat every day without getting bored?”」
Alucard had a terrifying expression for the first time.
「Your food is definitely a gem. The taste and ingredients are all first-class. But you said earlier that the girl’s dish tasted “normal”. So, what does “normal” means to you?」
It was a kind of philosophical question, but I understood what the Gourmet Master was trying to say to Alucard.
「Your food is definitely delicious. However, you decorated it with so many ingredients. It is delicious at first, but if you continue to eat it, you will eventually get tired of it. However, the udon noodles made by that girl did not taste like something that could be made overnight. It is a taste obtained by working on it for several years. A taste that was born because of hard work. A taste that everyone can eat without hesitation. A taste that one can eat every day without getting bored. Her dish had a taste that only she could make.」
Yes, Mina-chan’s “ordinary” and “normal” taste. In other words, I was never bored of this taste even if I ate it every day. A taste that no other fine dish could outdo. This meant that the standard of normality was the most difficult to accomplish.
「Roughly speaking, your cooking has a taste that any first-class chef can achieve. Even if you are not a professional chef, you can cook as long as you establish the ingredients and cooking method. But that girl’s cooking is different. Yes, very different. A taste that can only be achieved by one person. I must have said it during the first match as well. “Cooking that can only be achieved by that person” and “Cooking with a commitment” are what we evaluate in these matches. I could see that you were particular about your food. However, more than that, the dishes made by that girl had accumulated over the past ten years. That’s the reason why she was victorious.」
Alucard was confident in his cooking, and it felt as if the reasons for winning and losing in the first round were reversed. Of course, he made a beautiful and delicious dish. However, it went without saying who pursued its own cuisine and put it out head-on.
「The basis of these cooking battles is certainly the taste. However, the true victory or defeat is also based on the process. How can you bring out the essence of the dish? To bring in the food that only you can make. That’s all.」
Alucard quietly chewed his defeat and convinced himself that had he lost with a good cause explained by the Gourmet Master.
「…You’re right. First-class ingredients, first-class cooking methods, and first-class chef. I was trying to show something surprising. I did not show myself through cooking.」
Eventually, he turned to Mina-chan, bent his knees and apologized.
「I want to apologize for my disrespect. I described you as a mediocre flower and even ridiculed your food. I forgot that ordinary flowers are the most beautiful in nature. There is no way that roses grown in the greenhouse are superior to the cosmos blooming in the meadow…Please forgive me.」
Mina-chan looked attentively at Alucard who apologized obediently. Instead of being angry, she smiled with her usual gentle smile and took his hand.
「No, don’t apologize. Your dish was very delicious. Much more than mine. However, the food I serve at my restaurant has a simple taste, but everyone who eats it always says that it is delicious. If you’d like, please come visit my restaurant one day. The mediocre taste is actually good sometimes.」
Alucard realized his defeat and saw how special Mina-chan was despite her ordinary taste. After seeing Mina-chan’s gentle smile, Alucard smiled quietly and nodded “of course, I will”. And so, we finished this fateful battle… The middle match was our victory.
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*Kitsune Udon is a Japanese noodle soup in dashi broth, topped with seasoned fried tofu, pink-swirl narutomaki fish cake, and scallions.
**Pasta Puttanesca, which translates roughly to “lady of the night”, is claimed to have been invented in a whorehouse. This dish is served with a pungent sauce of tomatoes, olives, garlic, anchovies, capers, and hot chili pepper.
*** EN: Gourmet Master you speak with experience… you dog you 😉