After properly covering up the cumin mutton and the red braised meat, Ren Baqian wanted a cook to fry some shelled peanuts.
This time around, a cook volunteered himself without needing Caretaker Gou to prompt anyone.
Right now, everyone wanted Ren Baqian to tell them what these spices were.
Ren Baqian had no intention of concealing the spices from them. After all, they were just spices. As long as he could show off in the imperial kitchen, he was fine with sharing.
"This is cumin, and all of you have tasted it just now. It's able to get rid of strong odors and enhance the tenderness of meat. One of its very important uses is preventing food from spoiling. Given such a hot weather, you can't place a dish in open air for too long after it's cooked. Cumin can reduce the speed at which the dish turns spoilt."
Even though some of terms Ren Baqian used sounded odd to everyone, they could still easily understand what he meant.
"Where can we buy this cumin?" someone immediately asked.
The rest looked at Ren Baqian with expectation.
They did not know whether or not would Ren Baqian would tell them. After all, they had never seen this spice before. It was considered a unique spice, and one could well imagine its value.
"Let me grow some and see how the output is," Ren Baqian replied after thinking it through.
"Can you sell it to us?"
"Of course," Ren Baqian spread his arms and replied, "What can I do with this if I don't sell it? I don't intend to be a cook anyway."
Previously, when Ren Baqian told them about the spices they never heard of, they felt he had a mouth filled with rubbish. Furthermore, he did not look like he was from Dayao and that made them loathe him even more.
When Ren Baqian really took out the spices to show them, their attitude towards him began to change.
And when Ren Baqian agreed to sell spices to them, their facial expressions became extremely amiable.
People of the Dayao Nation were known to be barbaric and violent. However, one had to admit that they were honest and straightforward.
Ren Baqian did not pay them any mind and continued, "This is anise… nutmeg… cinnamon… pepper…"
He went through every spice with them.
When Ren Baqian finished speaking, everyone in the imperial kitchen wanted to offer tributes to him.
Right now, they would be more than willing to call him "Master".
The spices that Ren Baqian showed them had indeed widened their horizons.
With these spices, they were confident of coming up with more dishes, and their dishes would taste a few times better than before.
After going through the spices with the cooks, Ren Baqian had an easier job instructing them on what to do.
The cook crushed the fried shelled peanuts and mixed some green-colored, spicy fruit dices with them. Then he added cucumber slices into the mixture. Finally, he put salt, brown sugar, MSG and garlic paste into the mixture and stirred it.
After tasting the dish, everyone asked Ren Baqian what the white-colored granules were. Previously, he had not explained what those were.
"This is MSG. I'm afraid this can't be made for the time being," Ren Baqian shook his head and said.
Everyone was disappointed after hearing Ren Baqian's words. However, they still felt that they had huge gains today.
One had to know that the imperial kitchen initially only had soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and a few vegetables resembling scallions, ginger, garlic, and chili.
Now that Ren Baqian introduced them to so many spices, they felt as though they had opened a door to a new world.
"Send the dishes to Her Majesty," Ren Baqian instucted Caretaker Gou.
Caretaker cupped his hands at Ren Baqian and said, "The imperial kitchen will do your bidding in the future."
He then asked someone to make a fruit platter and send it along with the dishes to the empress.
When Ren Baqian turned around and saw some ice cubes in a corner, he told the remaining cooks, "Find a box and place the ice cubes in it. Then, put the vegetables, fruits and meat into the box. Doing so will allow them to be stored for a longer period of time. When the weather is hot, food products go bad faster. The lower the temperature, the longer they can be kept."
Right now, everyone was almost treating Ren Baqian like a god. After Ren Baqian finished his sentence, they quickly nodded their heads. They were prepared to find someone to make a box and do according to what Ren Baqian said.
Caretaker Gou and his counterparts arrived at the palace with the dishes. When he opened up the lid, the fragrance of the food hit everyone's noses. Especially the smell of the red braised meat; it could be smelled from a distance.
The two palace maids beside the empress gulped their saliva secretly.
"I have never seen this dish before," the empress said casually as she cast a glance at it.
"They are made by Caretaker Ren! We have never seen these dishes either but they indeed taste good," Caretaker Gou replied honestly.
"Oh? I remember what's going on. Both of you have a wager, right? Last time, you called him 'the Ren fellow' but now you address him as 'Caretaker Ren'. So, he won the wager?"
"Yes, he indeed won the wager by taking out a few spices that we have never seen before. Your Majesty will know how good they are once you have tasted the food," Caretaker Gou said.
The empress lightly nodded her head. After someone tested the dishes for poison, they were served to the empress. The first dish she tasted was red braised meat. This dish was the most fragrant, causing her to feel slightly hungry.
It looked slightly greasy, but when she took a bite of it, it did not taste greasy at all. Her mouth was filled with fragrant sticky sauce. The various flavors from the spices that she had never tasted before pleased her greatly. "Very delicious, what is this dish called?"
"Red braised meat," Caretaker Gou replied.
"The name is awful, but it tastes really good."
Following which, the empress tried the cumin lamb. Even though it looked different from usual, the empress still praised it to high heaven. After adding cumin, it became much more tender, its rank odor was reduced significantly, and it gave off the fragrance of cumin.
Today, the empress had eaten a lot of food. Her movements had become faster but remained graceful. When the plates were cleared, Caretaker Gou could tell that the empress had eaten a lot more than usual by looking at the amount of food that was left over.
It was obvious that the empress liked these new dishes very much.
"Very good, very delicious. Make these dishes again tomorrow. In addition, I want all of you to learn some more new dishes from him," the empress instucted as she stood up and walked a few steps.
"Yes, Your Majesty. Why not arrange Caretaker Ren's placement to the imperial kitchen?" Caretaker Gou suggested. In the beginning, he hated Ren Baqian's attitude. However, after Ren Baqian really took out the spices, he became extremely satisfied with him. Not only was Ren Baqian familiar with various spices, but he also knew a lot of new unknown dishes. It would be a pity if he continued to stay in the beast park.
Caretaker Gou did not care whether Ren Baqian became a cook or an assistant in the imperial kitchen.
"Forget it, I have other plans for him. Go back and ask him to come here and continue the romance story. Qing Yuan, follow Caretaker Gou there and bring Ren Baqian over."
"Yes, Your Majesty," the palace maid beside her replied. The palace maid was around twenty years old. She was tall and slender, and she looked very pretty.
After exiting the palace, Qing Yuan opened the lid and, when no one was looking, tried a bit of the leftover food. Immediately, her eyes lit up.
Just now, she already found the dishes very fragrant. It was only after she tasted them that she realized how delicious they were.
"Hmm, they are indeed delicious." After her curiosity was sated, Qing Yuan licked her oily fingers clean. Afterwards, she placed her hands behind her back and looked ahead.
"Brother.... Ren, Her Majesty has summoned you to continue the romance story," Caretaker Gou said when he entered the imperial kitchen's courtyard and saw Ren Baqian sitting there in a daze.
Qing Yuan looked at Caretaker Gou first and then at Ren Baqian. Following which, she pursed her lips and smiled. With a crisp and sweet voice, she said to Ren Baqian, "It's the story that you said last time, Romance of the Three Kingdoms."