veryone’s Story (1)
Rachel Rose’s Rose Island in Venice had finally opened . I recalled the number of times I’ve visited the restaurant just trying to land myself a spot on the opening date . Just thinking about being able to taste the food from the old days… made my heart leap in joy .
To be quite honest, the food at the new Rose Island was very different from the one in my memories . Ah, I’m not saying it wasn’t bad . Quite the contrary, in fact . Rose Island still managed to charm me the way it did years ago . Ah, I still feel that the food from my memories was a little better than the one I had on the opening day, but it really couldn’t be helped . Nothing tastes better than food that’s been seasoned with fond memories after all . The food I had this time too, would get seasoned like so after a few days .
Getting back to the topic at hand, if I had to pick out the food that stood out to me the most, I’d invariably have to turn to the food made with molecular gastronomy . After all, molecular gastronomy was something that only took off when the main store of Rose Island closed down . But the dish they showed off with it… was nothing short of perfection .
I had heard that Raphael Yoon, a master when it comes to molecular gastronomy, had joined their team, but was a dish of this quality something really possible? Could it be that Rachel had disappeared for ten years to study the craft of molecular gastronomy? It sounds stupid, but the food I had there was nothing short of perfection .
If I had to pick a food that was the most memorable, I’d have to pick the potato soup with bacon foam . That soup blew away me and my friend’s expectations of the restaurant completely .
When I put a spoonful of soup with a tiny amount of the foam on top, I almost thought that I was chewing on bits of bacon in my mouth, not mushroom . The soup had such a strong amount of bacon flavor on it that almost seemed impossible to create with just foam . Frankly, I was shocked . That tiny bit of foam was able to both show me something unique and textural to the restaurant, and also take me back to my childhood years .
By the time our meal was about to end, chef Rachel came out into the hall to give her thanks to us . She didn’t talk much, and I don’t quite remember much of what she said due to my old age . The reason why I still chose to talk about this is because her words still struck a chord within my heart . After all, there is no meaning to words at all if they ultimately fail to reach a person’s heart .
In that sense, her short speech was one of absolute perfection . She talked of her happiness, her sadness, and of her love . How she conveyed her feelings didn’t matter .
Afterwards, she came to talk at our table for a few minutes . Now this bit of the conversation, I do remember . I told her that the ten years of my life without her at Rose Island were like being deprived of food for ten years . Rachel told me, “You haven’t matured at all in the last decade, huh, Juan? You really should learn to stop being so picky . ” Right . The only reason why I was writing this much for this blog post was because of this one sentence she said . Rachel still remembered my name after ten years!
That made me incredibly happy . When I learned that she treasured her regulars just as much as the regulars treasured Rose Island, I felt my heart get filled up with absolute joy .
Rose Island . That name would most definitely stay with me for the rest of my life . I just wish that I’d be able to live long enough to witness their legacy for a while longer .
“He really didn’t have anything bad to say about the restaurant?”
Gerrick grinned proudly, and Maya shrugged right next to him .
“Of course he didn’t have anything bad to say . The food was perfect . ”
“Why are you acting like you own the place now? You aren’t in a position to even start acting proud, not to mention the demi chefs here to begin with . ”
“Hmph, I’d reckon chef Minjoon has all the right to act all haughty, though . He’s a great teacher and an amazing cook . He never got a single complaint from the head chef, even!”
“Hah, look at you covering for your demi chef now . Chef Anderson barely got any complaints either, you know?”
“Barely and none at all are completely different terms . You should really know the difference by now . ”
As the pressure between Antonio and Maya began to rise, Fred jumped in to try to take the two apart .
“Stop it . It’s pointless fighting each other . Don’t you know how friendly chef Minjoon and chef Anderson are with each other?”
“They’re complete opposites, but they’re still weirdly on good terms with each other . ”
“I think it’s because chef Minjoon’s kind of, you know… Has that aura about him…”
“… I didn’t mean it like that . ”
Gerrick sighed as he watched Maya deflate a little .
“Anyway, you two must be really having a good time about now . Chef Janet’s super scary . If I make one mistake, she’ll just glare at me and say ‘What did you just do?’, ‘Did you think you did something right there?’, ‘So you did this knowing you were doing something wrong?’, ‘A mistake? So you weren’t even paying attention?’ She keeps hounding me down like that… I can’t take it . ”
“I didn’t know I was that bad . ”
“That’s righ… . t?!”
Gerrick’s face contorted a little when he turned around . It was Janet and Javier, both in the room with them . Janet was glaring at Gerrick coldly .
“You’re saying all this as you clean up the soup stock properly, yes?”
“I-I’ll go check on it . ”
“Let me speak a little before you go . What is your problem with me? I’d just like to know . ”
“Eh… Eh… Well…”
Gerrick paled without being able to come up with an answer . Javier seemed to have felt a little sorry for Gerrick, seeing as he put a hand on Janet’s shoulder to stop her .
“Gerrick, it’s fine . Go check on the stock . ”
“What are you on about? He has a problem with me . ”
“Stop it, you . You’re going to make him cry . ”
“… The kid is way too cowardly to be a chef . ”
Janet looked angrily at Gerrick’s back before sighing tiredly .
“I wish I got a pretty good chef to have my back . ”
“Maybe you should stop acting like such a perfectionist . ”
“What, you really think I’m one? I was just pointing out mistakes . ”
“I’m telling you to be a little softer when you do that . Hey, Fred . Am I as hard on you as hard Janet is on Gerrick?”
“Rather than that… You look a little more surprised . After all, my mistakes end up becoming yours . ”
“… Haha, you make me sound really spineless . ”
Javier awkwardly scratched the back of his head . Janet smiled mockingly at him .
“And you made yourself sound like a big lad all along . ”
“Damn it, fine . I’m spineless . But it’s fine having someone like me around . Wouldn’t the kitchen become too intense with people like you, Minjoon or Anderson . ”
“Did I say anything?”
“You didn’t, but…”
Javier trailed off quietly . Janet turned to look around .
“Maya, Fred . ”
“Where’s Minjoon and Anderson?”
“Ah, chef Anderson is out to meet the guy who makes our noodles . ”
“I heard he’s coming in late today . Today’s Sunday, so I guess it’s understandable . ”
“… What? Minjoon’s not the type to be late . Is there a reason?”
Janet frowned, which caused Maya’s response to be quieter than usual .
“I don’t know much… But I heard someone was sick . ”
“Yes, mom . Don’t worry too much . My temperature’s gone down a lot now . ”
[Thanks, Minjoon . It feel comfortable knowing that you’re always next to her . ]
“I’m her boyfriend, so of course I would be . Please don’t worry too much . It’s not that serious . ”
[Hah… I’ve nothing I can say to Kaya . It’s all my fault she always gets in trouble like this…]
Minjoon could hear the pain in Grace’s voice on the other side . He suppressed his feelings of sympathy, and tried to muster the kindest voice he could make .
“Grace, you’re a good mother . You didn’t give up on Kaya no matter what . There are so many people out there who can’t even do that . You need to be strong . That’s the only way Kaya can recover quickly . ”
[… . Kaya’s really met a nice man . Unlike me . Right . I’ll be strong . You stay strong too, Minjoon . Don’t get sick, alright? I’m going to hang up now . ]
“Thank you for calling, Grace . I’ll call you later . ”
Minjoon stared quietly at his screen after finishing the call . As a person who had come from a rather well-off family, Minjoon couldn’t really understand the pain and hurt Kaya’s family had to go through . But he could still understand . After all, he could see it . The family was still clearly in pain even after getting out of poverty .
‘What can I do?’
He couldn’t really think of much . Right now, the best he could do was to make the potato soup next to him perfectly . It wasn’t much worse, since it was something he snagged from the kitchen . All he really had to do was make that bacon foam . He’d done this several times every day, though, so even that wasn’t much at all .
When he took the soup into the bedroom, he could feel the warmth of the room hit his face . Minjoon took the wet towel off of Kaya’s forehead, and put his hand on it instead . It was hot . Kaya smiled weakly .
“Sorry… I got sick again . ”
“It’s not your fault you got sick . Sit up for a bit . Try some soup . ”
“… Can’t I just lie down for a bit more? I don’t want to eat . ”
“No . If you don’t eat, you’re going to stay sick . The soup is good . Try it . ”
Minjoon put his arms around Kaya’s back . Her clothes were wet from her sweat, but the fact that Minjoon didn’t care just went to show how much he loved her . Kaya leaned on Minjoon’s arms and smiled .
“Your muscles got firmer . ”
“You told me to work out, didn’t you? Till I became like the terminator . ”
“To be honest… that’s a bit too much . ”
“Good . ”
Minjoon took a spoonful of the soup . Kaya took it like a baby bird and smiled faintly .
“I can see why you were so confident of its taste . What’s up with the bacon flavor? I didn’t think it’d have any . ”
“I put bacon foam up top . ”
“Oh, so it wasn’t just normal foam, huh? I like this . I’m surprised you managed to make potato soup this tasty . ”
“Aren’t you surprised that a patient’s meal can be this tasty as well?”
“Sure, sure . You’re going to make me crave being sick, now . ”
“Don’t say that now . How’s your body so weak? You’ve even survived the market before . ”
“But I work more now than back then . It’s also hard trying to get used to different time zones as I travel . Anyway, give me some more . It’s really good . ”
“You said you weren’t hungry . ”
Minjoon took another spoonful with a smile . Kaya took a bite out of it, and put her head against Minjoon’s chest . She opened up with a nervous voice .
“You aren’t going to say anything about me not washing my hair, are you?”
“You think I’m that stupid?”
“You usually are . ”
Minjoon kissed Kaya with a massive grin . This time, he took a bite of his own soup . Kaya raised her voice in anxiousness .
“Hey! No! You’re gonna get sick!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine . I didn’t get sick last time . ”
“Doesn’t mean you won’t get sick this time . You have to take care of yourself, silly . ”
“You getting worried for me?”
“Of course I am! You have a problem with that?”
“No, I like it . ”
As soon as Kaya opened her mouth to speak, Minjoon shoved more soup into it . Her eyes shone with annoyance as she swallowed the soup . Minjoon kissed her forehead shortly before shuddering in disgust .
“Salty . Tastes like sweat . ”
“You wanna die?”
“Do you even have the strength to try to kill me?”
“I don’t need strength to kill your future kids . ”
“… Sorry . I won’t do it again . ”
Minjoon retreated quickly . Kaya pinched Minjoon’s cheeks .
“You called my mom earlier, right?”
“Yeah . She was worried . ”
“She said she was sorry again, didn’t she? She keeps acting like a sinner all the time . Just what does she think she did wrong?”
“That’s just what parents are like . They always regret never having been perfect . ”
“But she was perfect . And she always will be . ”
“Of course . ”
Minjoon rubbed Kaya’s cheek with his hand . Kaya’s eyes narrowed in annoyance .
“You act like you’re treating me like a child sometimes . ”
“Well, you are one . You’re still in your teens, you know?”
“Bah, whatever . Let’s just talk about mom . When she comes to LA, I’ll have to… make her meet dad . I don’t know what’s going to happen . ”
“She must feel complicated about it . Just like you . ”
“It’s fine if I feel this way . I just have to pretend not to be feeling any of it . I just hope my mom understand that we weren’t thrown away . It’d be better if we ended up not actually becoming people who were thrown away . ”
“I don’t think he was lying . I don’t want to judge a person’s character after just one meeting, but he didn’t seem like the type to lie about stuff like this . ”
Minjoon felt saying something like this would help comfort Kaya more . Kaya sighed before looking at Minjoon .
“What I’m really worried about is where I’m going to have them meet . ”
“That restaurant is the problem . I was thinking of taking them to my place at first, but I wanted them to meet somewhere even better . After all, this is going to be the highlight of my life . ”
“Even better? Do you mean…”
“Yeah . ”
Kaya nodded .
“Rose Island . The most famous restaurant in the world . And… The place where my family worked as chefs . There isn’t any other place for a broken family like mine to meet up at . ”