He couldn’t get asleep. Jo Minjoon closed his eyes trying to sleep, but ended up opening them. He glanced at his handphone and it was already midnight. He buried his face on the pillow, and in the end stood up from the place. He thought that laying like this would be wasting time.
The reason he didn’t get sleepy was simple. Because of the case of the low score. Precisely speaking, it was a little different than the score. It was about the limits of cooking. Chloe’s potato soup was perfect. If she added something more, then that dish would become something else. But would that potato soup remain as a sloppy 6 points?
Baking level: 4
Decorations level: 5
Jo Minjoon kept looking at his stat window. Excluding the decorations level that went up by one when he teamed up with Kaya, there was nothing different.
“Level 7….. When will I reach it?”
As he was mumbling, Jo Minjoon’s face froze. Since when did he start to care about his level this much? He started to think that at one point, the dishes he made weren’t for cooking, but for raising his cooking level.
But he couldn’t help but be like that. He was different to Chloe or Kaya. He couldn’t ignore the score that was being shown in front of him.
‘Even so, the potato soup…..’
He started to remember the flavor. It was thick and stable. It was well cooked so there wasn’t even a trace of a bad smell coming from the potato. And also the buttercup aroma. Even though it wasn’t splendid, it was delicious. It was fun.
Also, Kaya, who reached the top level 10 in tasting, didn’t point anything wrong with the dish. Was it because it was the best the potato soup could get? Or because the potato soup itself was a good dish?
The cooking score was perfect for the system. How much creativity was used while cooking that dish, how stably a skill was used, how harmonious the ingredients became, etc. It was a score taking into account all of that.
A dish with high cooking score was certainly a good dish. However, a dish with a low cooking score was a bad one? Jo Minjoon couldn’t stop thinking about that.
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh. His head hurt. And the way he relieved stress was quite simple. To eat.
He opened the door, and the hallway was really dark. Jo Minjoon walked the hallway guided by the flashlight of his handphone. His destination was the pantry, and the kitchen.
As he reached the kitchen, there was an unexpected guest. It was Anderson. It seemed like he was making some gravy. He put onions, pumpkins,etc. in the boiling water and looked at Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon waved his hand expressionlessly.
“What do you mean? I came to cook.”
Jo Minjoon replied as if he was being asked something obvious. Anderson didn’t particularly like Jo Minjoon, but it was also the same otherwise. After the first broadcast ended and after what Jo Minjoon said about Kaya winning, he still remembered what Anderson had told him back then. He was beating around the bush, but in the end it meant that first, he had to have some skills to talk.
Of course, Jo Minjoon understood the hidden meaning. He wasn’t someone who liked people that disliked him.
The conversation ended with just that. Jo Minjoon went to the pantry and looked for ingredients. Instead of saying that he wanted to practice cooking, he needed food to fill his belly. He wanted to make some kimchi jjigae with pork moksal, but there was no kimchi in the pantry.
‘Should I ask for it later?’
He thought like that, but it was pointless. Although it was a representing item in Korea, it didn’t work in the world. Precisely speaking, only half of it worked. The reason was because of the fishy smell left. In conclusion, it was a difficult ingredient to use in this kind of competition. Even if he did ask for some kimchi, in the end, he was going to use it to make the things he used to eat. To ask some to eat by himself was being a nuisance.
Because he couldn’t make kimchi jjigae, the next thing he thought of was doenjang jjigae. In the pantry, there were all kinds of things related to condiments of the whole world. There was of coursedoenjang. Although a commercial one of course, but the flavor wasn’t bad. Rather, Jo Minjoon favoured commercial doenjang. Compared to the homemade ones, it’s colour was lighter, and the flavor was as light as the colour.
When cooking doenjang jjigae with commercial doenjang, there was only one disadvantage. That the more you cooked it, the more flavor it lost. However, it was a disadvantage he didn’t need to take into account when you were going to eat it once like this time.
Jo Minjoon handled the anchovies. To say that he was going to handle it, it was a rather simple process. To remove the dung and the guts. Depending on whether you did this or not, the sour flavor changed drastically. And Jo Minjoon wasn’t the type to roughly prepare what he was going to eat.
The next step after handling the anchovies was simple. To put the anchovies and kelp in the water, boil it and make the gravy. Depending on the person, they could fry meat to make the gravy, but Jo Minjoon didn’t like the combination of doenjang jjigae and meat. He didn’t like the flavor of the doenjang to be contaminated with the oil coming out from the meat. It was his philosophy that doenjang jjigae needed to be cool and clean.
Jo Minjoon chopped the radish, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, mushrooms and tofu to the size of dices. Anderson glanced at him and asked.
“What are you making?”
“No. Looking at the ingredient, it looks like japanese miso soup. Is it tasty?”
“I wonder. I don’t think that it will suit your tastes.”
Jo Minjoon replied displeased. Korean people couldn’t notice it, but people around the world felt the flavor to be really thick. It was also the same when they tried the sweet and light japanese doenjang jjigae. So would they like the korean one? He wondered if Anderson would enjoy doenjang jjigae.
Anderson didn’t keep talking to him. Jo Minjoon took out the anchovies and the kelp and put in the doenjang and chilli powder. When the soup was moderately done, he put in the vegetables he sliced. And after he boiled it for some time, putting the tofu and sliced green chili was the end.
The doenjang jjigae was completed. The score was 6 points. However he didn’t mind. In the first place, it wasn’t a dish made hoping that it ends with a good score. In the first place, cooking doenjang jjigae with commercial doenjang was difficult to get a high score. Even getting 6 points was good enough.
It was at that moment when he put the instantaneous rice in the microwave. Anderson came to him and opened his mouth.
“Rather than I don’t want to….. You don’t like me that much.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t hit around the bush and answered directly. Anderson shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s true that I don’t like you. But there’s no reason to not like your dish. That doenjang jjigae thing, it’s the first time i see it. And I have to eat what I see for the first time to ease my curiosity.”
“……If you say it like that. Then bring yours too.”
At those words Anderson laughed.
“Mine is going to taste better. Won’t you get discouraged by it?”
“You have to try it to know.”
Jo Minjoon replied while snorting. Actually, he had the rights to act like that. Because Anderson’s dish, the tomato chicken stew, was merely 6 points.
Jo Minjoon and Anderson sat on a table facing each other. The first thing Jo Minjoon ate was the doenjang jjigae. The flavor of the doenjang jjigae he didn’t eat for a while was exceptional. Because of the chili powder and the green chili, it was spicy. And the unique coolness of the anchovy gravy passed through his throat cleanly.
The flavor of eating tofu, pumpkin and soup along with rice was perfect. Honestly speaking, it was incomparable to the dishes of Chloe, and Kaya.
And now, Jo Minjoon ate the tomato chicken stew. The aroma of butter could be felt in the soup, and the sweet flavor of the tomato could be felt. The main point of tomato chicken stew was saving the sweet flavor, and this stew was one that was really sweet.
However, it wasn’t in the level of the doenjang jjigae he just ate. Of course, it was the same for Anderson. Anderson frowned after trying the doenjang jjigae.
“It doesn’t feel fresh.”
“It would be a difficult dish to use in a mission.”
Jo Minjoon opened his mouth. Anderson flinched when he looked at Jo Minjoon that seemed to want to talk about something serious.
“The dishes in a top restaurant. So the dishes made with the best technique and ingredients, and normal homemade food. Will you be able to evaluate both of the dishes? No, I’ll speak more directly. What holds more value and what doesn’t?”
“I just thought of that. That what people use to eat isn’t made by professional skills nor thought about the harmony of the ingredients. But just because of that do they hold no value? I’m curious.”
Anderson didn’t reply. He just looked at Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon took one more spoon of the doenjang jjigae and looked at it. And talked in a silent voice.
“Suddenly, my mind is a mess. If a well made dish is good food….No, it’s not. Precisely speaking, a dish made without outstanding skills can become good food. It’s confusing.”
Anderson didn’t say a thing and fell in his thoughts. It seemed that it wasn’t an easy question to answer. However, when he opened his mouth, the words that flowed through his lips were quite deep.
“If it was delicious for the person eating it, then isn’t that good food?”
“It’s like the hot dog made in the streets. If the person that ate it says that it was delicious, then it is good food. Of course, I know that what you are trying to say is a little different. I know that you are not talking about the idea, but about the quality. But I think that the basis is that. Look at this.”
Anderson pointed the table in front of him. A tomato chicken stew, and doenjang jjigae. It was a simple table.
“We can make even more luxurious and splendid dishes. But we are eating this simple dishes. And it won’t be different for an epicurean. The person who checked the searing point of a steak in a top restaurant, could be eating frozen pizza and think that it is delicious.”
“Of course not.”
Anderson raised his hand and interrupted him. Jo Minjoon looked at him. Anderson spoke with his usual calm face.
“Aren’t you mistaken about something?”
“The flavor isn’t it all in cooking. It’s just a part of it. The shape, ingredients. At times, the ingredients fees, the chef’s fame, interior, all of that is included at what the customers pay for. But, a dish that contains potato soup you usually eat? Do you think that it will be able to please them?”
Jo Minjoon couldn’t reply back. Anderson continued.
“It must be a dish that can’t be imitated at home. And the better the quality of the ingredients, then, the better. The reason cooking is not the same as homemade cooking is because of that. Homemade cooking can be done by anyone if they practice a little.”
“Isn’t that a question that can be answered just by looking at this table?”
At those words, Jo Minjoon looked at the doenjang jjigae and tomato chicken stew. He was staring for a while and soon, Jo Minjoon smiled brightly.
“Yes. That’s right! A well done dish and good food are completely different things!”
He started to think about many things in his head. Thenaengmyeon(냉면) he ate after finishing his finals, or thetonkatsu(돈까스) he ate when he got admitted to the army, the jelly made by Jessie….
It wasn’t that he realized it just know. He knew it all along. Just that he wasn’t conscious of it. Looking at the system’s score, he forgot what cooking meant, and what was food.
The cooking score, was in the end, the technique used while cooking. If a better technique was used, then the quality of the food and the level couldn’t be helped but be high. So it couldn’t be helped that the quality of the food and the level of it was almost similar. Only then could Jo Minjoon realize it.
The situation wasn’t any different. This was Grand Chef. It was a place where he showed his skills, and the dish with high cooking score could get good compliments.
However, Jo Minjoon’s way of thinking changed. Just because the cooking score was low, it didn’t mean that it was bad. Of course, while the cooking score was higher, the flavor would get more complex and more refined. Because cooking techniques existed for that.
But just because it wasn’t complex, and wasn’t refined didn’t mean that it was bad. Just like how he yearned for doenjang jjigae right now, at times, that simplicity reached even deeper. Perhaps, a 5 points dish could taste better than the 10 points dish.
Jo Minjoon stood up. He walked towards Anderson and shook his hand. Anderson looked at Jo Minjoon with a perplexed face. Jo Minjoon said seriously.
“Thank you. Anderson. I really thank you. It was a good counseling.”
“I think that I would be able to sleep well. I say it once again but, thank you. I won’t forget about today.”
Jo Minjoon talked like that and left the place. Anderson looked confusedly at the back of Jo Minjoon. After a while, his eyes looked back at the table. Anderson grumbled.
“At least wash the dishes, crazy bastard……”
< A well done dish and good food (3) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter! Thanks for reading and your support!
Regulars being on: Tue, thurs, sat and sun
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled