Published at 16th of December 2020 05:34:00 PM
The pork belly, vertically sliced like noodles, was placed in the center like noodles, and next to it was a yellow cream and black sauce and a mixture of minced ginger and honey .
She opened her mouth, dropping ice cream on the pork belly .
“It’s an ice cream made with ginger and beer . I’ve boiled the pork belly with Indian spices and wine, and I’ve made this cream on the side with potatoes and ginger . Also, I’ve made the black sauce with white beans and soy sauce . Try it . ”
“Wow, I can’t wait any longer . ”
He smiled lightly and put it into his mouth . She looked at him with mixed feelings of anticipation and tension because he was the guy with the most sensitive palate in the world during his pre-demi chef days . She couldn’t help but tremble, nervous about his feedback .
“It’s delicious . ”
That was what he said after keeping silent for some time . She smiled for a moment, but soon, she noticed that his expression wasn’t that bright .
She asked cautiously, “What’s wrong with your expression when you say it’s delicious?”
“Just tell me . I’m fine . I’m ready to listen to your opinion, no matter how harsh it is . ”
“If all your courses are like this…”
Min-joon stopped before going further then let out a brief sigh . But he had to tell her frankly what he felt about the dish . The reason she came here was because she wanted to get his comment .
“I don’t think I want to be your regular customer . ”
“You can’t be my regular…”
She didn’t expect he would give her a good review, but it was much harsher than she thought . His statement that he couldn’t be her regular customer was really shocking .
In other words, the taste of her dish was so terrible that he could not be a regular . Or it was worth trying it but not enough to eat it often because it could make people easily sick of it . The dish had no special attraction…
She interpreted his feedback in various ways . But she was not agitated or upset . She went through such painful experiences so many times .
“What is the reason?” She asked .
Since she went through ups and downs like that, she could ask calmly now .
Min-joon opened his mouth, pointing at the plate with a fork .
“This isn’t a plate for your customers . In other words, this is literally a plate for gourmets . If I may point it out more accurately, this is a plate with which you can get a good review in a gourmet magazine . ”
“Why do you think so?”
“Its taste is too complicated . ”
He looked at the plate with a complicated expression . He had a lot on his mind at the moment, for what he just said to her was also applicable to his dish . He hesitated to point it out for a moment, but he needed to speak out to her bluntly because it was in her interests .
“Cream made with ginger and potatoes . Chopped ginger pickled in honey . It has ginger in common, but it tastes completely different . I wonder if I have to say this is harmony or contrast . It tastes the same but different in my mouth, so I’m confused about how to accept it . ”
“In fact, that kind of confusion was what I aimed for . I thought it would be good if ginger could
flavor the taste of the crazy spices of the pork . Actually, those gourmets who tasted it gave me a good review . By the way, can you tell me why this is for gourmets only?”
He remained silent at that question . No matter how confident he was as far as cooking was concerned, sometimes he could not easily give his feedback, even if his comment would be helpful to Deborah . He knew she would feel offended the moment she heard his critical feedback . Probably, this was how parents felt when they have to spank their children .
“It was empty inside . ”
“It’s gorgeous . I don’t know what it is, but it tastes good . I recognize that . So I think it’s a great dish . The tricky calculation of taste and skillful technique . I can feel all of that in this dish . Maybe even gourmets will find it hard to accurately figure out the taste by trying this dish alone . ”
“Then, you can figure it out?”
“I think so . While commenting about it, I already figured it out . Why?” He asked, rather embarrassed . She might have taken his comment for granted, given his perfect palate, but at the same time, he got puzzled . In fact, he himself knew better than anyone else that he had a perfect palate .
‘Is it because I’ve been thinking like this all the time?’
Without Deborah, he might have given it more thought, but he couldn’t keep her waiting .
He opened his mouth again .
“Maybe some of the customers might come back to figure out what this dish was . And they might realize that there was actually nothing unique in this strange taste . Well, too many roots have taken hold for you to claim that ginger is the key to this whole cuisine . In the end, you’ll find out that it’s an artificial tree that doesn’t bear any fruit…”
“Wait a minute . You’ve suddenly made a barrage of critical comments . Shall we take a break before you go further?” She asked with a depressed expression .
Min-joon asked with a smile as if he was tired, “I wanted to add just one more word before I finish . But if you insist, let’s take a break . ”
“Oh, just one word . Please go ahead then . ”
“What I pointed out earlier is for the customers who can’t find the solution to their frustration . Those who just gave up out of frustration won’t come to your restaurant any longer . Either way, you won’t make them come back to your restaurant . In short, this is a fancy dish . In other words, this is a dish suitable for a Michelin restaurant, but it’s a dish that only mimics a Michelin restaurant . ”
“Man, you said you would add only one word, but you’re preaching!”
“Well, I’m not good at English,” he said with a smile .
She lowered her head with an angry expression . She wasn’t angry with him, of course .
In fact, she was feeling the same thing about it then Min-joon gave her a painful reminder of it now . She was upset with herself who didn’t try to be conscious of it until she got pointed out by somebody like him until now .
She asked in a miserable voice, “I was thinking of showing it to Rachel for her feedback . ”
“I guess Rachel must have scolded you rather than giving you any advice . ”
“Hey, do you want to keep teasing me like that?”
“There is a saying in Korea that medicines that are good for you taste bitter . ”
“Your words are painful, not bitter, to me,” she said in a depressed tone .
He silently scooped the remaining meat and cream from the plate and put it in his mouth .
Why did she feel that little sound of him chewing it in his tight-lipped mouth was so reassuring? Was it because she felt his sincerity in tasting her dish?
“Maybe it’s because of the ginger . This is bitter and spicy . My mouth feels like it’s on fire . ”
“What do you mean? Sorry, tell me honestly . I won’t be able to understand when you keep beating around the bush like that . ”
“What I mean is that even this dish can be a good medicine for you . ”
“Oh, I see…”
She was about to say something when the old and rusty melody rang quietly from the wall clock on the side of the hall . It was the sound signaling the end of their break time .
Min-joon opened his mouth slightly .
“During business hours, the kitchen is off-limits to outsiders . See you later . ”
Persuaded by his gentle reminder, she left the kitchen with an embarrassed expression .
After leaving the kitchen, she looked back with a resentful expression .
“I’m not an outsider…”
Unfortunately, Min-joon and Deborah couldn’t have another productive dialogue that day .
It was the next day that they could talk again .
Deborah, seated on the passenger seat of the new van Min-joon received from Jefferson, said with a sigh, “I hate sitting next to a novice driver like you . ”
“You can’t get my advice for free . By the way, America’s a really funny country . How come you have to drive your own car for a driving test?”
“Well, you are going to drive this car anyway after the test . So, all you have to do is drive this car well . Don’t you think so?”
“It seems to me that you don’t have to get a driver’s license if you don’t have your own car . ”
“That makes sense, too . ”
In America, anybody preparing for the practical test should drive his or her own car directly to the test center after passing the written test, with someone over 25 years old in the passenger seat . Min-joon had no one who met the conditions . He could not ask Rachel or Issac to do him a favor like this . Right at that moment, he saw Deborah!
“Maybe the reason you came to California was because you wanted to help me get my driver’s license . ”
“Oops! Am I your extra then?”
“Why do you think you are an extra? You know how important a driver’s license is in America . I passed the test thanks to you! I’ve got a license now . ”
“Oh, I’m flattered . I was just sitting next to you . By the way, you are a good driver . Were you a good driver in Korea?”
“Yes, I think so . ”
In fact, he got a driver’s license when he was 30 years old in Korea, but he didn’t have to mention it . He glanced at her quickly . Her eyes were a bit swollen perhaps because she cried all night, or she did a thicker makeup than usual .
She looked out the window and said slowly, “Don’t look at me too much . You might fall in love with me . ”
“I don’t think that will happen because Kaya is prettier . ”
“Do you think the spouses of models are dating other women because they are more beautiful than their wives? And why do you think Kaya is prettier than me?”
“Kaya was voted the second prettiest chef in America . Chloe was the first . How about you, Deborah?”
“Well, that applies to only those girls who were on TV, right?”
“Anyway, the TV program is reliable, isn’t it?”
Deborah laughed awkwardly as if she was dumbfounded .
He opened his mouth slightly .
“Yesterday Rachel looked very scary . What did she tell you?”