Qi Lian Festival (Part 2)
A delegation of people entered the Furong (lotus) Ya (elegant) Zhu (building), the inside of the wide wing was already arranged with a huge round table, some appetizers were already prepared also. The east side of the wing had a carving window on one side, the carving was all the way through the window, one could see the Lian (lotus) xin (heart) hu (lake) (name of the lake). This was the biggest lake in Huadu district, the top of the lake caught the lotus leaves from the sky, reflecting on a lotus during the day, the faintly delightful fragrant penetrated deeply into one’s heart.
The inner wing’s furnishings were very simple, excluding the big round table, the side of the window was a wool carpet that had a new lotus in the rain, there was a low small side table and a collection of tea sets on the top. There was a calligraphy’s painting on the wall, this ordinary calligraphy’s painting had a poem on it, this piece of painting had a poem with a simple lotus flower drawing on the side. Fresh, elegant, and a very unique style. It seemed that this side of the wing was a part of the lake with the lotuses that were swaying gently with the wind.
“For one, love only the lotus — for the way it emerges untainted from the muck,
Raising cleanly above the ripples of water with an unaffected grace;
Its hallow, straight stems eschews climbing-vibes or branches;
Its scent turns ever purer the farther it travels in the wind,
And all the while it quietly holds its upright stance in peace.
It can only be admired from afar, not to be sullied nor debased.”
(This is copied from http://crispapples.blogspot.co.id/2009/10/on-love-of-lotus.html?m=1).
Yan Hao Yu was standing in front of the calligraphy’s painting for a long time, he slowly chanted the poem out. It could be watch from far away and could not be trifled with disrespectfully, it was really good words. Looking one glance to command the shopkeeper to serve, Murong Shu Qing appeared to be different than when he saw her for the first time, a valiant and formidable-looking person, flying free and at ease, with her whole body with an indigo’s plain clothing today, with her long hear that only had a wooden hairpin. Not only it did not make her look mediocre, but it actually made her to look even more elegant and graceful. Just liked ——— that pond with pure lotuses. He really did not misjudged wrongly, when he saw her for the first time, he knew that this woman was not simple, who could have thought that she was Murong Shu Qing.
Not too long after, the dishes were already prepared properly, with the lotus pastries, cakes, delicacies, they were put on the table very quickly.
Tang Xiao Xiao was looking at the soup that was brought up at the same time, she asked: “What kind of soup is this ah? Very pretty!”
With this one question of hers, everybody’s attentions were invested over. They could only see this clear and transparent soup, a lotus was blooming in the middle of the soup, as if it was faintly floating on the water surface.
The shopkeeper looked one glance at Murong Shu Qing, and saw her nod her head, then he smilingly explained: “This soup is called Wei (light) Yu (rain) Furong (lotus), it has a fresh pluck lotus flower, you have to simmer it with chicken stock for three days and three nights, with a slow fire and simmer it completely.”
Looking at the pretty and moist soup that was inside the bowl, Tang Xiao Xiao and Huo Zhi Qing were unable to bear it any longer, they drank a mouthful, both of them shouted at the same time: “Very good oh!”
Looking at their ex
aggerated expressions and exclamations, Yan Hao Yu laughed and shook his head, this soup certainly seemed to look very good in appearance. But taking this as a first dish, the flavor should be light and could improve the taste, Zhi Qing always preferred to taste heavy dishes, what was she foolishly shouting about!
Drinking a mouthful of the soup, Yan Hao Yu was startled, not only him, the other people who were on the table, also showed astounded expressions. They had eaten countless delicacies and fine food in the past, and people who had tasted culinary delicacies with a hundred tastes, would know, the first order to serve was a light food, then strong food at the end, lastly, it would be dessert, in this sequence, step by step. This way, one would not snatch the taste of the vegetable and meat dishes afterwards, and serving this soup first, the flavor was actually fresh with a strong fragrant, the fragrant was mellow and rich once it entered the mouth, it completely seized the taste buds with a whole feeling. First, one could not say how this rich soup, could be made so clear like this, then, how the other dishes that would be served later, would be put to this big ordeal. (The main point is the taste of the soup is already so good, so how will the taste of the other dishes will have to compare with the taste of the soup).
Just finished drinking the soup, a snow like sparkling white jade box was presented, Huo Zhi Qing asked curiously: “What is in this white jade box, very strange ah?!”
“This is a lotus chicken, the method in making it is a mixture of making beggar’s chicken and salted baked chicken, the most outer layer of the white jade box is used to coarse the sea salt and use the container to shape and absorb the taste. The inside layer is a blended thin mud, the most inner layer is the fresh lotus leaves and lotus petals that are wrapped into the chicken.” While explaining, the shopkeeper opened the outer box, the sweet fragrant of the lotus leaves, along with the rich and mellow roasted chicken, made people’s appetites to open wide. Opening the lotus leaves, the lotus petals that were inside the chicken, unexpectedly were still simple, elegant and rosy, but the roasted chicken was already golden and crisp.
This chicken meat was completely absorbed by the sweet fragrant of the lotus leaves, and the rich lotus petals, the chicken was crisp-fried and crunchy, but it was not greasy. Tang Xiao Xiao blurted out that she had not eaten this delicious chicken before, while she let the shopkeeper to open another box. Huo Zhi Qing was also extremely enjoying her eating, she nodded vigorously and expressed her agreement.
After Yan Hao Yu had tasted this lotus chicken, he had no choice but to say, the banquet was actually a display of originality, every dish was extremely good, every taste of the dishes gave a whole new feeling. He really wanted to see how many more pleasantly surprised dishes could Murong Shu Qing bring out after all.
After everybody was almost done eating, the shopkeeper served the final dish together, this also attracted Tang Xiao Xiao and Huo Xhi Qing’s visions one more time. That was a pastry that looked like a bowl of cake, the moist water appeared to look like luster of gems, the lotus as if it was frozen inside it.
“This is a dessert, it is called Bing (ice) Qin (to percolate) Lian (lotus) Xin (heart). It is used a pig skin to simmer the juice together and then it is steamed in the lotus petal’s broth later, the lotus seeds are frozen completely.”
Very sweet and gentle, sweet but not greasy, after eating it, it made people’s feelings to be amazingly clear and bright.
Finally eating until she was filled up, Tang Xiao Xiao whose physical strength was restored, standing by the side of the window. Looking at the pond that was filled with the delicate lotuses, she shouted: “Hey, how come there are people on the lake?” Hearing her excited yelling, everyone also looked at the pond.
They could only see that the pond was filled with lotus leaves that were swaying gently, about a dozen of young girls who were wearing pink dresses, were standing on Lian Xin lake, they were performing or dancing lightly. The sleeves from their dresses were swirling in the air, they looked like water fairies, sort of liked the flower fairies, who were having fun on the water surface, among the flowers willfully.
Huo Zhi Qing also curiously asked: “Yes ah! They are still dancing?”
Tang Xiao Xiao walked to in front of Murong Shu Qing, she pulled her sleeve, and asked: “Qing Qing, how can they do that?!”
Murong Shu Qing picked up the green tea that was on top of the low table, looked one glance at the lake, smilingly said: “They are piling (the bamboos) under the pond, and then, laying on the bamboos that are on the water surface, looking from a distant, they seem like dancing on the surface of the lotus pond.”
“So as it turns out, this is really simple ah, but it really looks very beautiful oh.” Tang Xiao Xiao suddenly realized, and looked towards the lake, she still thought that there were people in the whole world, that could have this awesome qinggong achievements like this, that they could also dance on the water!
Huo Zi Qi smilingly said with a clear voice: “Today’s meal is really stood out, it is not surprising that this Ying Ke Lou is renowned in the entire country.” This Ying Ke Lou was not ordinary, this Murong Shu Qing was even more not showing her depth. She was the honorable miss (from a wealthy family), but gentle, simple and elegant; her ability was threatening, and yet she was introverted and reserved. She would be the biggest competitor that his business would encounter.
There were already many people who assembled at the Lian Xin lake, this year’s convention to harvest and pluck the lotus would begin, Tang Xiao Xiao looked and just could not sit anymore, she hurriedly pulled Shen Xiao Yun, and called out: “Plucking of the lotus event will begin soon, let us go, ok, it will not be lively anymore if we look at it too late.”
Putting down the tea that she only drank half of it, Murong Shu Qing helplessly got up, this girl, once she ate her fill, she would just not lay down. Towards Huo Zhi Qing’s party, she faintly smiled and invitingly said: “We all should go together to look at the annual event of the Qi Lian Festival, ok!”
“Alright!” Huo Zhi Qing was not able to be patience anymore, she really liked this older sister, she treated people properly, was gentle, free and at ease. Her whole person seemed to always shroud in this laziness personality within her.
Looking at Huo Zhi Qing who was so excited to follow Murong Shu Qing, and would leave them behind, Huo Zi Qi and Yan Hao Yu looked at each other and forced a smile, who was exactly her family after all.
Plucking of the lotus was the most important ceremony during the Qi Lian Festival, it was also attracted numerous males and females to go to the event. According to legend, thousand of years ago, there was a fairy who came to the secular world, she fell in love with a man and tied a knot to become a husband and wife. The two people really loved each other sincerely, their feelings were deep, unfortunately, good things did not last forever. The Heaven discovered that the fairy longed for the secular world, and disobeyed the rule of the Heaven. As a result, the fairy was brought back to heaven, and imprisoned for 500 years. The man was forced to separate with the fairy, he was heart-broken, spat out blood, and died in melancholy very soon. Under the netherworld, the man did not agree to drink the soup from Meng Po (if one believes in reincarnation, one has to drink this soup from this grandmother to forget one’s old life and be reborn as a new person), and he wanted to remember his feelings with the fairy forever. Since then, the man was reincarnated five times, he could not forget the fairy in the end, and did not get married in every lifetime. Finally, his deep feeling moved the Heaven, and the Buddha gave him a direction, that as long as he found the green lotus under the Buddha’s seat, he would be able to meet together with the fairy. The man searched everywhere in the whole world, it was already a full ten years, he finally found this at Lian Xin lake. The man and the fairy were separated for 500 years, and they could finally be together again in the end.
As a result, this Lian Xin lake had a huge reputation, and this was the origin that the Qi Lian Festival was held, every year, unmarried males and females, could come to participate in the plucking of the lotus event. When the males and females entered the lake, they could extract a number, the man had a red color of a wooden tablet, while the woman had a green color of a wooden tablet. When the numbers on the two wooden tablets were identical, so those two people could embark to enter the lake to search for the lotus.
If they could find the green lotus, it indicated that the two people were predestined in love and in previous lives by the Heaven. Not matter whether or not the both families were well-matched in social status, both of the family patriarchs would not be allowed to oppose. Thus, there were many males and females who loved each other, they eagerly wanted this matchmaker from heaven (which was the green lotus).
When Murong Shu Qing and the other people arrived at the lake, there were already multitude of people, many people came to see the liveliness (of the place), and it was also assumed that they somewhat looked for the lotus sincerely. Entering the location, there were two big boxes, one was red and the other was green. The unmarried males and females could draw the numbers to take a wife or husband from within the boxes.
Doing as the natives were doing (the idiom that says when in Rome, do as the Romans do), each and every unmarried people drew out the numbers. Entering the inner area, the government’s master ceremony was already shouting: “Everybody, the plucking of the lotus event will begin immediately, these Gongzi and Misses can show the numbers on their hands, whoever forms a pair can enter the pond to search for the lotus.”
For a moment, the noises were even lovelier. Every family’s Gongzi sent out their young man servants to inquire about a beautiful woman. These Misses who were difficult to leave home also reminded their servant girls to be careful to compare (the number).
Since Tang Xiao Xiao came in at the start, her mouth was pouting all along and she went into a huff: “Qing Qing, why only the unmarried people can search for the lotus ah! I also want to go and have fun!”
Murong Shu Qing laughed and looked at her arm that was pulled by Tang Xiao Xiao: “Because you are a married woman, if there is a man who draws the same number as yours, do you want to go and search the lotus with that single man together? If you are not careful to search it in the end, since this is a Heaven’s matchmaker, he will want to marry you oh!?”
Tang Xiao Xiao had not replied yet, but a raging sound of a man immediately echoed, she was also pulled by two powerful arms to enter into his embrace very quickly.
Looking at Shen Xiao Yun’s narrowed eyes, dangerously looking at her, Tang Xiao Xiao immediately acted coquettishly and hugged his neck, with a tender smile, she said: “I only ask casually, if I want to pluck it, I will pluck it with you ah! We are naturally a couple, matched in heaven, hehe!”
Tang Xiao Xiao really put a lot of energy to pacify, Shen Xiao Yun’s complexion that was cloudy, changed to clear slowly. Looking at his improved complexion, Tang Xiao Xiao secretly and relaxingly breathed. She could not go on her own, but Qing Qing could ah, struggling to get free from Shen Xiao Yun’s embrace, she dragged Murong Shu Qing’s sleeve, and asked while she was shaking (her sleeve): “Qing Qing, what number are you ah?”
What number was hers? When she entered the door, she just drew it out casually, then she gave it to Lu Yi, and she had not looked at it yet.
Lu Yi presented the number, and lightly said: “278.”
Tang Xiao Xiao looked all around: “These many people, who has number 278 ah?”