“…Are you from Italy? Why the hell are you so annoyingly romantic?”
“I do like Italian food quite a bit . ”
Minjoon responded playfully . Deborah glared at him angrily for a second before sighing in defeat .
“Good lord, I wouldn’t know to hate or love you if you were my boyfriend . ”
“Kaya seems to like it . ”
“Sure she does . You guys are practically like newlyweds . Just wait until it falls apart a little . ”
“You know that doesn’t happen for all couples, right?”
“You can only hope . ”
Deborah drew a cross across her chest, earning her a laugh from Minjoon .
“Do you feel better now?” Minjoon asked .
“I feel like I got a hint or something… I think . ”
“You can do it . Please don’t make me look like the bad guy, I don’t want to have annoyed you all that much only for you to end up doing nothing . ”
“Sure, I’ll try my best . Did you get anything out of that too?”
“Maybe a small hint?”
Minjoon grinned to her happily . He had his eyes on the pig . He stared at the sculpture as he asked it a question inwardly .
‘Pig, do you even know what you look like with that grin on your face?’
The pig didn’t answer him until Minjoon went to sleep that night . Under his eyelids, in a small-ish big town, Minjoon found the pig sitting on a golden toilet bowl as it stared at him in its fancy beige dress .
“What about my look?” it asked .
Minjoon wasn’t at all surprised that the pig was talking . As a matter of fact, it only seemed natural to him that pigs could talk . In this dream, at the very least . He replied to the creature without missing a single beat .
“You look out of place . You’re a pig! Pigs don’t wear dresses . What’s up with that toilet bowl as well? What are you doing there?”
The pig frowned at him . “Aren’t you being a little bit rude? I can’t wear a dress now because I’m a pig? Because I have a bunch of bugs in my fur and I’m always covered in mud?”
“Why do you want to dress yourself up like that?” Minjoon asked .
“Pigs want to be beautiful, too . I may not be able to be the main character in this world, but at least I can become the main character in my own life . ”
The pig’s voice turned sorrowful . It stood up from its seat and started walking forward . One step, two steps, three steps . After around four, it had to put its hands on the floor . The hands turned into feet, and its clothes turned into skin and fur . The pig looked up to look at Minjoon .
“What can I do to become a main character?” it asked .
Minjoon couldn’t answer it . Instead, he patted the pig’s neck lightly . The pearl necklace was gone from it now . Unfortunately for the creature, any kind of decoration on it would just end up looking silly .
“…I’m sorry . I don’t know . ” Minjoon answered . He wondered to himself . Maybe you just weren’t born to be a main character to begin with? Even in your life? He couldn’t bear to say it, though . The pig mumbled to itself with its head down .
“Could you put clothes on me? It doesn’t matter when, as long as I get one . ”
“Like that dress from before?”
“No, you said that looked strange on me . I want something that makes me look beautiful . Please make something that fits me . Could you?”
He felt like he couldn’t do it . But he couldn’t say that to its face . Minjoon hugged the creature’s neck firmly .
“Yeah, I will . ” he answered .
He didn’t let go of the pig for a while . Eventually, the neck started feeling a little skinnier in his arms . What was going on?
That was when he woke up from his dream . When he opened his eyes, he found Kaya staring at him with an annoyed look .
“…You want to let go of me now that you’re awake?” she suggested .
“Why am I h… Oh, this is our home . ”
“You go to other houses often or something?” Kaya asked coldly . Minjoon let go of Kaya with a tired face .
“A really cute girl appeared in my dream . ”
“You know I’m not going to forgive you even if your honest, right?”
“Even if it was a pig?”
“…Are you on something?”
Kaya responded in a… well, in a very Kayish way . Minjoon continued with a dazed voice .
“I promised to put clothes on her . Clothes that would fit a pig . ”
“Did you do shrooms or something? What kind of a dream is that?”
“I’m gonna put clothes on it . ”
“…What the hell are you talking about? Just go to sleep . We have work tomorrow . ”
“Ok, goodnight . ”
Minjoon pulled the blankets over Kaya with a smile . One of the things he’s learned about Kaya was that she liked to kick her blankets as she slept . He patted the girl’s shoulder almost as if she was a baby until her breathing became more regular . Even after she went to sleep though, he couldn’t fall back asleep .
He was thinking about too many things . He couldn’t stop thinking about the art pieces and the pig in the dream .
He sort of wanted to make something in the kitchen, but he didn’t want to bother Kaya and Anderson in their sleep . Especially not at 3am .
It wasn’t like he could sleep at this hour though . After a bit of thought, Minjoon decided to get in his car .
He wasn’t heading to Rose Island . He wasn’t headed to anywhere like a park or a beach either . He was headed to Lisa’s bakery . Marco came out of the shop with a confused look as Minjoon parked .
“What the heck? Minjoon, what are you doing here?” Marco asked .
“You need any help?”
“Well, we do, but…”
“I’ll help . ” Minjoon looked at Marco with an almost demanding look . Lisa seemed welcoming of him, thankfully .
“Come inside . I can work you pretty hard, right?”
“Of course . I just need to do something right now . ”
His head felt like it was about to explode if he didn’t do something . Unfortunately(?) for him, Lisa didn’t actually work him hard . Probably because Minjoon didn’t know a thing about kneading, which took the most amount of work in baking .
In the end, the only thing he ended up doing was stuff like boiling water, or sprinkling four . Occasionally checking the temperature of the oven, and moving the dough from place to place . Lisa put the last of the dough in the oven as she started talking .
“Isn’t this beautiful, Minjoon?”
“Just… everything . The light, the dough, fermentation, and the smell of gluten . ”
“You seem to like this scenery very much . ”
“I think the process of baking is more beautiful than an already baked bread . Similar to how many adults find kids cuter than other adults . ”
He couldn’t completely understand what made her feel this way in the bakery, but he could relate completely . Occasionally he would smile to himself as he watched the soup boil in the kitchen . Lisa continued with a calm voice .
“It’s the same dough in the same oven, but each and every piece of bread looks completely different . I love bread . The process might stay the same, but the flavor is never the same . ”
“Same process, different taste…”
Something almost reared its head in his sea of thoughts, but it just didn’t come to him . Minjoon just gave up on thinking before asking a question to her .
“What do you think makes bread ‘bread’?”
“What makes bread ‘bread’?” Lisa asked back with a confused face .
“I’ve been thinking about that a lot . About how the best food brings out the most out of what it’s supposed to be . I wanted to know what makes a good bread bread in that sense . ”
“…Hm, I don’t know . Bread is too broad a subject . If I were to settle on one thing… That it’s a side?”
“The bread is?”
“Isn’t it? You never see bread as a main in any fancy restaurant . They’re always there as a side . Most people don’t eat bread solely for the sake of eating just bread . ”
“Bread shines when it gets paired…”
Minjoon stared off into the sky for a second . His eyes seemed to be searching for something . After a while, about when Lisa started to look at him with a worrisome face, Minjoon stood up from his seat . He turned to Marco with an excited look .
“Help me, Marco . ” he said .
“I have a recipe I want to complete . I…” Minjoon sounded almost thirsty as he continued . “I need your bread . ”
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“…I never thought I’d be doing this again . ” Maya mumbled annoyedly .
“At least this time you don’t have to do any of the egg stuff again . ” Minjoon answered with a smile .
“Chef, can’t I just handle it? You look like you’re about to collapse . Did you even sleep?”
“Yeah, I got some decent sleep . ”
“Liar . Your eyes have dark circles under them . ”
Maya looked at Minjoon with a worried face . The man looked like he was about to die at any second to her . Minjoon grinned at her with a playful look .
“I’ll leave things to you if I fall . ”
“You sound like you’re on a battlefield . ”
“Well, I sort of am . ”
Minjoon poured some water into the pot in the oven as he answered . He needed to get the cassoulet some more water . The crust on top of the stew could either make or break the entire dish .
“…Try to make something easier next time . Or just leave it to me . You can’t baby that thing for six hours straight like that . ” Maya complained .
“I’m not even that tired . Especially not with an energetic assistant like you . ”
“I feel tired just looking at you, you know that? Here, have this . ”
Maya took something out of her pocket . It was jelly . When Minjoon looked at Maya with a questioning look, the girl spoke to him with a firm voice .
“It’s vitamin jelly . It’s not too tasty, but you should still have it . Do it before I start overworking like you . ”
“Thanks . ”
“Eat it first . ”
“Fine . Man, you care more about me than my mother . ”
“I have to do my best as an assistant, don’t I?” Maya responded with a proud look . Right around then, Marco walked in with some freshly baked baguette . He seemed a little bit nervous about his creation .
“Here it is . Traditional baguette . Just as you requested, I tried to make it taste as rich as possible without butter . It’s very chewy as well . It should help you with your dish . ”
“Yeah, thanks . ”
Minjoon put a piece of baguette in his mouth . Crust first, and then the bread inside . A warm smile appeared on his face .
“This is perfect . ” he exclaimed .
“Thanks . ”
Marco seemed exceedingly happy about the complement . Minjoon’s solution to the cassoulet was to keep the cassoulet as a simple stew, but elevating it with something else . He wouldn’t try to make something new with the dish, but he would deconstruct it . In the process, he would add something new as well .
The oven started beeping after a moment . Minjoon carefully took the pot out as he checked its condition . The crust was crispy, while the stew itself was kept very moise .
‘I’m making a piece of art, not something that just looks cool . ’
Not many people would be able to tell what the difference was between the two things, but people who really knew about food would be able to tell, Minjoon was sure . He cut the baguette carefully . He removed the crust from the insides, and put both of them on the dish . The crust on the outside of the dish and the squishy inner parts on the inside .
He put the crispy part of the cassoulet on top of the flesh of the bread, and he put the more moist parts next to the crust . The intended result here didn’t just have to do with texture– he wanted the different parts of the dish to taste different as well . Like how normal fried rice tasted different to the bits of rice that got stuck to the pan .
That was what Minjoon ended up coming up with . Pigs can only be pigs . You couldn’t make it look beautiful no matter what kind of dress you put on it . But if you washed it, massaged it, and put some flowers on it… Even a pig could look beautiful .
‘I’ll keep my promise . ’
Minjoon lifted the dish . He lifted the cassoulet . The pig . He headed to Rachel’s office . The two exchanged greetings in the form of a smile, and Minjoon put the dish in front of Rachel . Rachel took a long look at Minjoon’s dish . It felt strange . It was just cassoulet on top of some bread, but it felt so beautiful to her for some reason .
“Just baguette and cassoulet?” she asked .
“I decided to mix the duality of flavors that exist in both baguette and cassoulet . ”
“How greedy of you . ”
Minjoon just gave her the knife and fork without saying anything . Rachel raised her hand . She stabbed a piece of bread and put it in her mouth .
Her mouth didn’t open again for a while .