A Healthy Flavor (5) >
“You don’t have to go this far…”
Rachel came over to Minjoon and Kaya’s place on the morning of their trip . She was holding a bag of ingredients in her hand . Minjoon quickly took the bag of food and put it on the table . Rachel sighed exhaustedly .
“I’m a cook . I make food for tens, hundreds of people every day . If I can’t even cook once for my disciple when he’s sick… I’d be a horrible cook, no?”
“…Thank you . But I’m not sick anymore . To begin with, I was just tired . Please don’t worry too much . ”
“You should’ve told me that before you collapsed . ”
“I have nothing to say to that . ”
Minjoon spoke with an apologetic tone before closing his mouth tightly . Rachel started taking out the ingredients from the bag she brought with an emotionless face .
“I told you to rest well . Are you doing that?”
“Yes, I am . ”
“Cooking? Have you been doing that as always?”
Minjoon didn’t know how to answer that . It felt like she’d scold him regardless of what he said . In the end, he decided to just be honest about it .
“…I don’t cook often, but I cook my own food or help out when I can . I don’t go overboard, though . ”
Rachel looked at Minjoon silently . Why did those eyes of her look so stressful to him right now? When Minjoon turned away to look at the carrot on the table, Rachel opened her mouth .
“Why did you start cooking again?”
“Um… I think it was my respect towards good food, and I think I was charmed by the way chefs cut their vegetables on TV . I think it was a combination of a lot of things . ”
“Do you know when you start hating the job you used to love?”
“I don’t really know . ”
Instead of responding, Rachel took out her sword . Watching the carrot get cutaway like tofu under her was pretty beautiful to watch . The sound of the knife hitting the cutting board, the sound of the carrot getting cut, and the sound of Rachel’s sleeves sliding up and down her arm . As Minjoon started listening to the noise of the knife, Rachel whispered at him silently .
“It’s when painful memories get associated with your work . ”
It was clear what Rachel meant by those painful memories . Minjoon didn’t know quite how to respond . Rachel didn’t say anything more than that . Instead, she asked a question . Her knife didn’t stop moving, and her voice still carried a hint of worry in it .
“Where’s Kaya right now?”
“She’s bringing her family over . They’ll be here soon . ”
“Good . I know I’ll just make myself look like an old woman if I keep talking, but the world needs old people like me at times . It looks like I’ll unfortunately have to take that role today . Don’t make Kaya like me . If you collapse in the kitchen, then Kaya would start hating the kitchen . You know what I mean, right?”
It was a warning . A warning that told Minjoon that his health was very important to others . Minjoon thought for a second . How would Kaya live without him? Of course, Minjoon knew of Kaya in the world before he returned to the past . But that Kaya wasn’t one that lost Minjoon . That was just the Kaya who didn’t even know of him . If Kaya ends up leaving the industry for a decade because of him, like Rachel did…
“…That’s an advice I would never be able to forget . Thank you . ”
Minjoon responded seriously . Rachel nodded . As far as she knew, Minjoon would keep his word no matter what . He’d probably worry a lot more about his health from now on after this . That was good enough .
“Would you like to help?”
“I have a higher probability of collapsing from overwork compared to you right now . It’d be odd if I was the one to collapse after telling you not to overwork, wouldn’t it?”
“Where should I start? No, what were you thinking of making?”
“Zucchini soup, salsa salmoriglio, and a Caponata on top of that . Don’t have dessert . It’s unhealthy . ”
“Ah… It’s simpler than I thought . ”
Rachel turned to stare at Minjoon, making him wave his hands hurriedly .
“N-no, I just thought you were going to make something huge . Like a big meat dish . It was just cleaner than I thought . ”
“Maybe if you collapsed just yesterday . I don’t see the need to do that right now, though . You might just end up getting a stomach ache if you eat too much now . ”
“Mm… Which one should I do?”
“Prepare the ingredients for the zucchini soup, please . ”
“Yes, chef . ”
Minjoon calmly lifted his knife . Just when he was finished with cutting the onions and garlic, Kaya and her family arrived at the house . They all looked at Rachel confusedly, making Minjoon smile lightly .
“It looks like my teacher really wanted to feed us well before we left . ”
“Oh my… Thank you, Ms . Rachel . Should I help…?”
“It’s fine, mom . Just stay still, you’ll ruin the ingredients . ”
“Do you trust me that little?”
“Yeah, why do you think I’m telling you to sit still?”
Kaya put some water to a boil, as if she was trying to help . Grace looked at Kaya disapprovingly for a bit before showing a smile to Rachel .
“I used to read a lot of magazines where you appeared, Ms . Rachel . I always thought about cooking your dishes to my kids, but I always ended up getting too busy . ”
“It’s always difficult to start anything . It’s still not too late . Please tell me if you ever get interested in cooking . I can’t tutor you, but I can give you a few tips . ”
“Really? Thank you so much . ”
As the two of them talked, Jemma watched the three of them cook quietly . It was an everyday lunchtime, where a family cooks food together . But this time, the members who were cooking were Minjoon, Kaya, and Rachel . The smells coming from the kitchen were quite something to behold .
“Minjoon, wat are you makin?”
“Ah, I’m making zucchini soup, salmoriglio, and a Caponata . ”
“…I know what the soup is, but I don’t know what the others are . ”
“They’re all Mediterranean . Caponata is a dish that has stir-fried vegetables with fish or octopus served with a wine-based sauce . Salsa salmoriglio is a fish dish eaten with a salmoriglio sauce… Here, look . ”
Minjoon showed Jemma his bowl . He was pouring lemon juice into a cup of olive oil with his mixer turned on .
“I make bubbles like this while mixing in lemon juice . I can’t add too much at once . ”
“It’s simple . If I add too much, it’s going to separate . Oil doesn’t mix well with water, so it’s the same as making mayonnaise . Anyway, I mix like this and… Want to try it? Add some oregano and parsley here for me . ”
“…U-Uhm, is this much okay?”
“Perfect . Yeah, you got it . Two leaves of oregano and two stalks of parsley . Can you add a spoon of boiling water over here too?”
Jemma carefully added a spoon of hot water into the sauce . Minjoon seasoned it with some salt and pepper before grinning .
“Grats . You made this dish with me . ”
“Yeah . You helped, didn’t you?”
Jemma looked at the bowl dumbly for a second before smiling . Her smile was a little awkward, but it was pretty nonetheless . Looking at that smile hit Minjoon hard . If he were to collapse, that would mean he would be breaking that beautiful smile . He didn’t want to give the same pain Rachel had to experience to other people .
Rachel had the role of cooking the fish . Minjoon volunteered for the role, but Rachel didn’t give it to him .
“I want to be the one who at least finishes the food . And…”
Rachel didn’t finish her sentence . But after a few more minutes, Kaya and Minjoon were able to tell what she wanted to say .
“So that’s… how you handle fire . ”
Rachel’s skill with the fire was stunning . Kaya got a lot of praise in Grand Chef for her skill with the fire, but Rachel was something else . It seemed like Rachel was aware of even the drops of fat that got rendered from the fish . She moved the grill away from the fire before the drop of fat hit the fire, and as a result, the fish was able to cook without even a single burnt bit .
The group looked at the food like a bunch of hungry wolves . Rachel’s food made even full people feel hungry . Right then, Kaya opened her mouth confusedly .
“Why do we have six dishes, by the way? Ah, is it Anderson’s?”
“No . He went to the restaurant earlier this morning . ”
“Whose is it, then?”
Minjoon coughed awkwardly . Right then, a sound of an engine humming came from outside the house . Kaya looked out the window, and froze right up . She recognized that expensive Sedan outside . Kaya, Jemma and Grace all turned to look at Minjoon, making him cough again awkwardly .
“I invited him . ”
“…You should’ve told us . ”
“I thought that would complicate your feelings too much . ”
They didn’t say anything to them . Indeed, they did need to improve their relationship with Bruce . It just didn’t happen . In the end, Minjoon was the one who thrust that issue onto their laps . Minjoon headed to the door calmly, before smiling tiredly . Bruce looked even more stiff compared to the three inside .
“Welcome, Bruce . Have you been well?”
“…I don’t really know how to answer that . Can I come in?”
“Of course . This way, please . ”
Bruce quietly took his seat at the table . Rachel ended up being the first one to break the silence between the group .
“Nice to meet you, Mr . Bruce . Are you joining them on the trip?”
“Ah… Yes . That’s what ended up happening . ”
“Bruce really wanted to join . He even got rid of his schedule for a while because of this . ”
Bruce scratched his head awkwardly as Minjoon started cutting the fish . The fish Rachel decided to use for the salsa salmoriglio was a snapper . The rich taste of the fish, combined with the olives and lemons, made it feel almost dreamlike . Minjoon’s eyes trembled in joy .
“Why aren’t you guys eating? Try the fish, it’s stupid how delicious it is . ”
That’s when the rest of them started eating . Jemma’s eyes widened the moment she tried a spoonful of the soup .
‘It’s too good…!’
It’s not like they used any special tools or a special recipe . But it was amazing . The taste of the cheese and the zucchini in her mouth melded amazingly well . Jemma wasn’t the only one who felt this way, of course . Everyone on the table got charmed by the food, enough to almost dissipate the nervousness between them . Grace opened her mouth first .
“It’s good . It’s very good, Ms . Rachel . ”
“Thank you, that feels great to hear . ”
“How do you like it, Bruce? Is it good?”
Grace tried her best to talk calmly to Bruce . Bruce widened his eyes for a second before replying with a trembling voice .
“Ah, eh, yeah . It’s good . It’s great . I love it . ”
“…I can’t make food like this . I lived too busily to be able to cook . ”
“I’m very sorry . ”
“You don’t have to think that way . My daughter became a great chef thanks to it . Our family ended up becoming happy one way or the other, despite our hardships . How were you? Were you able to eat?”
“…N-not really . ”
“I wonder why that feels so relieving to hear . ”
Grace smiled bitterly, making Kaya speak to him quietly .
“Let’s eat a lot of delicious food when we go to Korea . ”
“Yeah, let’s . ”
The conversation was awkward . But it was still filled with worry, curiosity, and love . Minjoon smiled inwardly as he put more fish into his mouth . He couldn’t experience familiar love like this in a restaurant . That’s what made this meal between them right now so healthy . No, that’s what made it so beautiful .
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