Editor: King of the End
The banquet began. As the man responsible for both the dishes and the menu descriptions for the Four Great Dukes, I stayed close to the great dukes’ table.
Just like its titular namesake, the Four Great Dukes consists of four people.
Duchess Renalier of the east. A beautiful late teenage girl who exudes keen senses. She’s also my current employer. Part of the imperial faction who wishes to avoid war.
Duke Härtling of the west. A young man in the middle of his 20s who appears gentle. I came to know the madness hidden behind that innocent appearance due to the dispute yesterday. Part of the noble faction who wishes for war.
Duke Eichhorn of the south. A good-looking man in his 40s who looks kind. I heard he was part of the noble faction.
Duke Ortlöpp of the north. A slender elderly man in his 50s with stern-looking face. Imperial faction.
The one that I have to be wary of is Duke Härtling of the west, obviously.
After Duchess Renalier finishes my introduction, I open my mouth to speak.
“The full course of the day was kindly entrusted to me. My name is Kurt Arnold. There are two dishes that I’ve served as the hors d’oeuvres, Tuna Steak Tartare and Seared Deer Liver.”
There are two hors d’oeuvres. The first one is tuna, the most delicious part of the flesh that I carved out diligently from the bones before being chopped into bite sized pieces. Then I mixed the tuna with gelatin formed on top of the tuna bones consommé soup, herbs, and all sorts of condiments to be refined into a firm Steak Tartare. Then I put vinegar into a basic vivid green sauce.
The other one is the venison from a freshly caught game this morning. After the skin was heated, I promptly cooled it down, then adding a specially made sauce, the Seared Deer Liver.
Neither of them used a single drop of oil. Hiding a burst of umami, they’re truly the most excellent hors d’oeuvres. As the appetizer of the full course, they don’t have anything to criticize.
“This is beautiful. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a tuna dish such as this one. Vibrantly red, with emerald sauce.”
Duke Härtling of the west slightly exaggerates his praising of my cooking.
“The appearance is pleasing, but how about the taste? …..Ah, no, no, I was surprised. It’s the first time I ever ate tuna this flavorful. Moreover, it doesn’t stray off the stage as a light hors d’oeuvres. I’m impressed…… There’s another one, Seared Deer Liver, is it? How about this one?”
Duke Härtling put the deer liver into his mouth with cheerful look.
“This, how on earth!? You, is it possible to ask for seconds? I lost myself for a moment there. The springiness is too great, the moment I bit into it, it burst so pleasantly. A wonderfully unparalleled milky sweet taste. Wonderful! The best hors d’oeuvres. The slight heat from the sauce is probably the deciding factor. To make me feel this moved simply from the appetizer, what a chef you are.”
He must have wished against the success of the banquet that Duchess Renalier hosts, but he didn’t stop praising my cooking.
“I deeply apologize. This Seared Deer Liver needs a special ingredient, therefore there is no more than can be offered aside from these current servings. There will be more dishes that I made with all my skills afterwards. I wish for your leniency.”
“That’s truly regretful. But, I’m having higher anticipations now for the next dishes. Fufufu, what kind of surprise will we get next, I wonder?”
Duke Härtling obediently pats the corner of his lips. The other ones of the Four Great Dukes didn’t particularly show anything different from his odd behavior.
However, looking intrigued by the rave review from him, they take their food in turns.
“Hohoh, I now understand why Duke Härtling gave this such a high praise.”
“That’s right. The truly new, best full course that Duchess Renalier noasted of isn’t necessarily more than just a statement, but it doesn’t seem like she was only being presumptuous. ……Perhaps the next ones will reveal the true nature* of this full course to us.”
The strict-looking elder duke of the north, as well as the good-looking middle-aged duke of the south, both praise my cooking. I used a weapon called deer liver, which was said to be the most delicious sashimi in the world. If they don’t show at least this much of a raving, I’ll be troubled.
Suddenly, the general nobles who had heard the high praises from the Four Great Dukes about the venison dish visibly asked the servants to prepare the same dish for them.
I contemplate on this cruel thing, of being unable to prepare enough of an amount to serve the dish for anyone other than the Four Great Dukes. I burdened the servants with the fallout with the other nobles. However, I can’t just stay still and contemplate.
After the dishes are served in this banquet, I give some slight commentary on the dishes, and before the Four Great Dukes finish eating, I return to the kitchen hall to give the finishing touches. It’s truly a busy task, yet necessary.
Now, it’s time for the next dish.
The next presented dish, the Scallop Salad also gained favorable impression. It’s a plate of steamed scallops with dressing.
In the dressing, I used the grape-like paple fruit. It’s the finest quality fruit that the elves raised. The dressing that pulls out the best of the fruit is able to both draw the light flavor of the scallop and hold exceptional affinity with the fresh vegetables.
After that, the presented dish is the soup. The soup consisted of only vegetables boiled for a long time, I take out the clear liquid as the foundation before adding shikabushi, smoked venison flakes, just for a short moment to create this specialty soup.
The sweet flavor of the vegetables and the umami of the vension are both present aplenty. And then, with the benefit of vegetables and all sorts of herbs, it will wash down anything in the mouth, condition the stomach, and increase the appetite.
“Transparent and beautiful looking soup. Yes, it’s delicious. A comforting taste. It feels like it’s permeating inside the body.”
Just like before, Duke Härtling of the west is all praises for me.
“Hmph, this doesn’t pass the bar. The hors d’oeuvres and salad were wonderful, but the soup that we came up with in the last banquet in Eichhorn, the potage soup made from local specialty pork, was clearly better. The richness of that potage with plenty of butter and the sweetness of pork fat, I’m salivating from just remembering it.”
The good-looking middle-aged Duke Eichhorn of the south drinks the soup in one gulp and talks bad about it.
“And why is that?”
The elderly Duke Ortlöpp of the north, slurps the soup noisily, making it look really delicious.
“Is there a counterargument somewhere in your speech, Duke Ortlöpp?”
“For me, as a soup dish of a full course meal, this is overwhelmingly better. Your specialty pork potage soup is delicious, naturally. But that was too heavy. The oil cloyed in the stomach, while turning the tongue numb, hm. I could not taste well the fish and meat dishes afterwards. First, it was good enough to be a standalone dish.”
“But, the flavor-”
“It’s related. Right now, I can’t do anything else except anticipating the fish dish next. The soup, hm. Its role is to be a foil to the very end. ……Moreover, hm. I can’t think of the taste as inferior. The tender sweetness of the vegetables, and the packed umami of meat getting drawn out to this extent without any stench. Instead of cloying the stomach, the more I eat, the more I feel my belly cleansed. It’s a magical soup. This kind of soup, I never tasted it before, hm. Without realizing it, I ended up drinking it all.”
“I’m of the same opinion. Duchess Renalier, this is truly amazing, isn’t it? Even the soup is the best. I tip my hat off already. As expected of the east, renowned for the forefront of cultural development. Today has been a series of surprises.”
Duchess Renalier’s expression crumbles for a second. It seems that there’s something else that came to her mind.
“It is my honor to receive your praise. However, up until now, it’s only the opening performance. After this, the main dishes of fish and meat, and moreover, the dessert, are being prepared as we speak. If you are surprised by this, I cannot guarantee what will happen to your body later, don’t you think?”
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s this soup’s fault, my stomach feels too empty. Now, let us taste the next dish, please.”
As he said, the soup is already finished, even for Duke Eichhorn, who complained about it.
The conversation dragged on, robbing me of the opportunity to go back and do the final touch. If I go back to the kitchen hall right now, the guests will have to wait, won’t they?
However, there’s no problem. I’ve predicted this outcome. The next item n the menu, Eel Soup in Puff Pastry, has already been baked and carried over here.
I left those cooking steps to Tina. She’s truly reliable in anything that requires fire while cooking. I have no doubt that she will have the perfect final touch.
“Understood. It will be served soon.”
I snap my fingers. When I did, the servants serve the dish all at once. This dish is presented in a large tea cup. And then, that tea cup is covered by a puff pie dough and baked.
“Eel Soup in Puff Pastry is served.”
“This is another mysterious dish. It’s the first time I’ve seen a fish dish served in a tea cup. Seems like it means something.”
“It terribly reeks of poverty from the looks of it, isn’t it so? I’m disappointed after all that anticipation.”
The dukes of the west and south express their own clashing impressions. Indeed, at this point, the appearance is too plain and there’s no aroma from the dish. However, this is the bomb of my arsenal. It means that it holds an explosion.
“This dish is a dish that will be completed by the guests’ own hands. Please break apart the puff pastry lid, and let them fall into the cup. If possible, simultaneously for everyone.”
When I said that, the Four Great Dukes hold their spoons and break apart the pastry lid. In that moment.
“Oou, what a wonderful aroma!”
“It really arouses my appetite.”
“Oou, it tightly grips my stomach.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a red soup.”
The aroma hidden under the puff pastry lid burst out all at once. Yes, this puff pastry has fulfilled its role to lock in the aroma inside.
Inside the puff pastry, a curry soup with fleshy eel fish and all sorts of condiments boiled together.
A spicy aroma really draws out one’s appetite. This dish doesn’t contain anything else other than eel and condiments. That’s precisely why it tastes straightforward without any muddles.
“This tender and fatty eel is just too good. When it’s together with spicy soup, it’s the best.”
“Hafu, hafu, this spiciness tastes so pleasing. I feel like I can keep eating no matter how much. Oh, I never thought I would sweat this good.”
“The crispy puff pastry is exceptionally compatible too.”
The four of them eat the stewed eel as if they’re in a trance. Eel contains a lot of fat, so it will taste greasy when being eaten normally. However, with this specialty curry soup, they won’t taste that greasiness. The spiciness seizes the tongue from being numb to the flavor to the utmost limit.
Moreover, the spices aren’t there just for the taste, they also enhance a person’s appetite. Truly a strange flavor. Emotionally moving and chemically reacting. Experiencing both at the same time, there’s no way anyone can stay calm.
Originally, this will disqualify the dish from being French, but I can get away with it in this world.
“Ahahaha, honestly! I decided to hold back from being surprised anymore, but this really caught me off guard. It’s not just delicious. It’s the first time I’ve enjoyed eating this much.”
Duke Härtling of the west raises his voice while laughing.
“The next one is still the main dish. I will add the final touch in front of all the honorable guests, please, enjoy it.”
The servants transport a drum container in. Hidden inside the container is the main dish of the day.
Now, let’s scare them out of their wits.
“I shall request the honorable guests to watch carefully now.”
It’s been going well so far. The dishes remaining are just the meat dish, and the dessert. If I fail here, all the things that I’ve built up until now will fall into ruin. With that to propel me forward vigorously, no, with more vigor than anything before, let’s show that I can smash forward until the end.
While thinking that, I took out the thing residing inside the drum container.
- Pan Roasted Liver with Sweet Onions by Chef in the Wild
- Acqua California Bistro Yellowfin Tuna Tartare from Honest Cooking (image by Kurt Winner! Haha, so meta)
- Venison Recipe vol. 5: Tataki by Nakama’s House
- Venison Stock/Bone Broth by Venison Thursday
- Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry by Jonathan Stiers
- That small photo is a thumbnail in Gettys image lol. Watch this video for traditional way to cook Eel Monster Fish Curry in India.
Ahem. So Kurt’s appetizer is actually Seared Deer Liver instead of Pate. Sorry for the mishaps, everyone! Actually I found the Tataki (Seared) recipe immediately after looking at Google with Japanese keyword, and it looks like this:
It doesn’t look like something that Kurt can serve to the Dukes, but it looks exactly like how Kurt explained it in the previous chapter so I just have to include it here. xD (and edit the prev chapter later on lol)
Also, Kurt’s explanations aren’t really spoken out loud, I think. But maybe it is. IDK, Japanese authors put weird things “off screen” so maybe Kurt did explain out loud but we didn’t get to see it happening on screen despite it being narrated in his inner monologue. ORZ
That part where a duke said “the full course’s true nature”, the idiom said 馬脚を露わす. The interesting part is that 馬脚 means horse’s leg. xD I can’t help but to think of a slight sneer in that part, as if he was saying, “A deer liver? Why not a horse’s leg next!” lol. I’m most probably taking it too far though.
Duke Ortlopp talks a bit strangely. He keeps adding “-nou” in the end. On its own, it can be translated as “useful” (as in the opposite of useless), but for some reason, I think that’s just his speech pattern, so I just added the “hm” in the odd part of the sentence. XD
I don’t know why the spiciness will make the eel curry soup fail the French??? Anyone???
By the way, the soup in puff pastry is called Zuppa Soup around here. I think it’s not called the same anywhere else though, maybe localized term? Because in the other part of the world I find it called Fish Pot Pie (but the term can mean a lot of different appearances, so I pick this one). By the way, here where I am, the content is more often creamy mushroom chicken soup though. I love the crisp pastry as well as the part that just sticks to the cup/bowl and still has that chewy texture. Yum yum.
Also, I think Duke Härtling wants Kurt for his own lol.