Various different smiles
「It’s ready! 」
The vegetable soup seems to be finished as Toack brings a steaming hot pot to the table.
I was already seated with Aisha and Flora with our dishes and utensils set. With this, we were finally able to start our feast.
「It took so long even though it was just a vegetable soup」
「Shaddap. It’s all good if it’s delicious」
「Yah, you’ll understand after you try some, Aisha」
With all these delicious looking meat dishes laid out in front of us, I don’t know why Aisha would have any complaints even though it did take a while.
「By that, you mean like she’ll understand if she stole a bite of it like you guys did?」
「It was just a taste test!! 」
Aisha’s words overlapped with Toack and Flora’s voices.
「Since we were just “testing the taste”, I think it’s okay to give us a bit more steak and pot roast than this」
Yup, Aisha and I had our number of pot-roast and steak reduced as our punishment of stealing a bite.
Even though we did have a “taste test”, isn’t this punishment a little too harsh?
Aisha nodded as she agreed with what I said.
She seems to have eaten three pieces of steak and one piece of the pot roast though, so I don’t think she’ll get this penalty reduction.
There aren’t even three pieces of steak left on her plate.
Even though she wasn’t even in a position where she could bring food back for her family, she already has… eaten four pieces secretly.
「Nope. That was way past the point of a taste test while cooking」
Flora refused with a smile as she sat in front of us.
Her smile was gentle, yet different from the usual after we stole a bite. It feels like she is a little mad about something.
Her tone of voice was polite, but her words had thorns.
Was stealing a bite really something that unforgivable in Flora’s eyes?
Even though Aisha did have four pieces, I don’t think Flora is such a short tempered girl that she would be angry over something so little like that…
「*Gulp*…! Flora, I apologize for what happened a little while ago! ….Me and your nine year old—」
「F-f-f-f, fine! There’s just nothing I can do about you, Aisha. I’ll give you some since I also had some of this last night」
Flora stood up vigorously in the middle of Aisha’s sentence and quickly started to give her some of her steaks.
It’s rare for Flora to raise her voice like that.
I wonder what Aisha was trying to say, but I won’t ask since it won’t go well if I try to pry into a girl’s conversation.
While Flora is carefully giving Aisha some steaks, Toack started to pour the vegetable soup into round bowls.
Aisha stared at Toack without blinking and said:
「…Toack. You look cooler than usual today」
「Hehe, thank you. Here, your vegetable soup」
「…Hold on. Why’s there so little in my bowl even when I complimented you?」
「Because there were no feelings in your words. Hora, Aldo, pass me your bowl」
I see, you can get a bigger bowl if you praise him if you put your heart into it.
「…Toack. Today you are even more manly than– 」
「Stop it. You’re creeping me out」
I tried to praise him with all my heart, but Toack was creeped out by me.
Certainly, that was not something that should be said from a man to another man. I’ll stop that.
When I received my bowl of soup from Toack, he served the soup in Flora’s bowl next in the same way.
I feel like my serving was the largest, but I’m not going to say anything.
Now all the main dishes are served on the table. We have the pot roasted venison by me, venison steak by Aisha, Flora’s sautéed venison, stir fried venison with wine, and Toack’s vegetable soup.
Four different types of venison; they truly are masterpieces served on round plates. I don’t even know if I should put my hands on these.
Only hunters in this village can eat a feast of meat like this.
As for side dishes, we have Aisha’s bread and red wine, vegetable salad, plus the pico and wolfberries from the mountains.
Our meal preparation was now finished, and everyone all had their eyes gathered on me.
I guess this is where I should give a few words as the one who invited them in.
「Now then, let’s eat, shall we? Make sure you eat lots since you all have been helping me so much. I’ll be in your care from now on too! 」
「Keep the big hunts coming, ok? 」
「I’ll be in your care as well」
As we spoke humble words to each other, we picked up our forks.
Since I already had a taste of the pot roast, I had my eyes on Flora’s sautéed venison that I looked the most forward to.
I stabbed my fork into the meat and it went in smoothly. I could see how tender this meat is just from that alone. Venison would be tough if it was overcooked.
While I admired that in my mind, I brought the meat into my mouth.
As I bit into it, the taste of salt, pepper, and herbs spread in my mouth all at once.
The meat was tender and yet it had a fair elasticity of toughness. The original sweet taste of the meat was brought out further as I chewed. She had marinated the meat overnight so there was no bad smell to it at all.
「Ahh, so good」
「T, Thank you」
Flora answered with a shy smile to my murmurs.
I was relieved because that wasn’t a smile on just the outside like the previous time, but a genuine smile that came from her heart.
That shy smile she showed when I complimented her on her cooking was very cute.
I still have no idea why she was mad, but Flora with a happy face on is the best after all.
As I smiled back at her, she brought a bite of the pot roast to her small mouth.
I’ve confirmed the taste of the dish myself, but I can’t help but feel a bit nervous when it’s being eaten by people who are good at cooking like Flora.
「Ohh, this is tender. It was grilled just right」
She leaked out such comments with her hand over her mouth just when I was feeling such needless anxiety.
I felt relieved from her words.
Then, I stole a glance at the others.
「The meat isn’t tough, and it was seasoned well」
Aisha was talking with the meat stuffed in her mouth, and Toack said while he chewed.
Toack didn’t show much of an expression on the outside, but I can tell that he was liking it quite a bit.
It feels good to have people enjoy the food that you make yourself.
My chest feels all warm just from seeing them happily eating the food I made.
「Oi, Aisha. The steak you made is a bit tough? You overcooked it, didn’t you?」
「Did I? I like it chewy like this though」
Listening to the words of those two, I also bring the steak Aisha made to my mouth.
Meat juices spread in my mouth as I chewed. The meat was a little tough, but there are certainly people who may like it a bit chewy like this.
It’s seasoned simply with salt and pepper, but I feel like I could eat an infinite amount of this.
「I also like it a bit tough like this」
Aisha stuck her chest out proudly after hearing my words.
「I prefer meat that’s tender」
「Okay okay, I will pay attention to that if there is a next time」
Other people would think that was a conversation between an old married couple.
I finished the steak and got my hands on the other dish that Flora made- The stir-fry with wine.
The red wine sauce was not only thick and creamy, but also smelled really sweet.
I stuffed the meat along with the sauce in my mouth.
The juicy meat combined with the smooth Nordende wine sauce was delicious.
「The red wine stir fry has a bit of a strong taste to it, so it’s good to have it together with bread and salad」
Following Flora’s recommendation, I found out that it does go really well together when you eat it with bread and salad.
「It’s true, it tastes just right」
The strong, sweet taste of the wine sauce was softened up by the moisture of the lettuce and cabbage.
So she made her dish with the side dishes that had a plainer taste in mind.
Suddenly, I noticed that Aisha was ravenously eating her share with bread and Toack was eating his with vegetables.
Even though we both cooked the same venison, Flora’s was on another level after all. Her dishes are impeccably delicious.
Toack was eating her dish with no words of complaints, even being the eccentric man that he is. That is also proof of how good Flora’s dish is.
「This soup is delicious too, even if it took some time to make」
「I also tried to make this at home, but I couldn’t get this same taste. Teach me if there’s a trick to this」
「Dumbass. It’s better if you experiment with it yourself」
When I asked, Toack crossed his arms and lightly snorted.
I understand the joy of experimenting and exploring by myself, but then that means I won’t be able to taste this soup for the time being.
「Are you not telling him because it’d be too easy if you caught him?」
「S, so it’s something like that」
「Then, isn’t it fine if you just teach me」
Just when I was a bit disappointed from not being able to get Toack to teach me, Flora whispered to me in a small voice,
When I looked at her, she pointed to the vegetable soup and she put two pico in it.
That’s when I realized it. The subtle taste of the pico was what was missing from the vegetable soups that I made. Certainly, a little acidity and sweetness from the pico would be just what I needed.
The secret to the soup was this close to me.
I’m looking forward to the next time when I can make a vegetable soup for Toack. Surely he’ll be surprised.
I moved my mouth silently to thank Flora. She showed a little mischievous smile in return.
While that smile made my heart skip a beat, it also made me think that playful look of hers resembled Fiona-san a little.