The previous head of the Alfade Company, Thomas Alfade, was the forefather of the Alfade family who revived it by selling various ingredients made from wheat.
The many influential vassal states which existed from the Old Kingdom’s time, which was the first human country that was destroyed a very long time ago, crowded around the royal kingdom’s capital, a capital that was said to be the most prosperous of all capitals. In the royal capital, there were many companies that were old but not very big. One of them was the Alfade Company.
What this Alfade Company dealt in was processed goods made from wheat, in particular, noodles made of dried and kneaded wheat. Although preserving them was easy because they were dried, the fact that you needed a large amount of hot, boiled water and the fact that the flavoring was plain caused it to be unpopular. That meant that noodles would be placed as the same rank as other commoner foods and could only be found in people’s homes or at cheap bars. The person who would make it into a staple for the nobles and in turn raise the Alfade Company to the number one leading company in the capital was Thomas.
The secret to Thomas’s success were the many sauces that he devised. A sauce suited for the commoners made from milk and wheat flour. A sauce made from sautéed mushrooms added together with a fish sauce that was unfamiliar to the kingdom which was made from fermented fish and made by a maritime nation from the Western Continent. A daring sauce made from pickled fish eggs, which was a famous product from a port in the west that was thriving with international trade or a sauce using those same pickled eggs but with the addition of a spicy powdered togaran* which gave it a new sharp taste.
The Alfate trademark noodle sauces greatly raised up the status of noodles, which were until then were only simply seasoned with salt, cheese, honey, or pepper. The people demanded more of the noodles and the novel and delicious tasting sauces that Thomas came up with, and the Alfade Company, which was just a small company at the time, quickly grew into the kingdom’s leading company. And Thomas who accomplished this was known as the ‘Genius of Culinary Innovation.’
But, Thomas knew. He was not a genius, but he simply had a stroke of good luck. Inside of the dark recesses of his home’s wheat warehouse, there was a quiet, still, black door. The one who somehow found it was Thomas, an active merchant.
From their world’s point of view, for almost the thirty years that the store was open (the store itself was actually open for around fifty years apparently), Thomas had for seven days times four, once every 28 days, visited the restaurant not as a customer but as a merchant.
Now he had left position of the head of the company to his son and stopped doing business as he went into retirement. But, Thomas had made a promise with the previous owner. To keep both of their ‘businesses’ running, they promised that they would continue to have a ‘deal.’ After retiring and having plenty of free time, like every Satur’s Day such as today, Thomas prepared to head to the restaurant.
“—Alright, that should do it.”
After checking his favorite backpack, which he had and cared for since he was young and could carry many things, for the things the various goods that the owner asked of him, Thomas let that one sentence out.
You could only use a ‘door’ at the same place once every Satur’s Day. Once the door was closed, or if the door was open for the short time of about 300 seconds, the door would disappear, and entering would then become impossible. That was the rule of the door leading to the Other World Dining Hall that Thomas had heard from the other customers. For that reason, Thomas diligently prepared before he passed through that door.
After finishing his preparations, it was now time to go, and he raised his voice to his grandson who would be coming with him for the first time.
“Alright, let us go, Sirius.”
“This door is connected to an other world… is this really true, grandfather? But, it’s true that it’s unnatural that such a fine door would be inside our company’s old warehouse…”
Thomas’s grandson, the young man that would be next generation of Alfade Company’s successors, had a confused face.
“Well, it’s true.”
What his grandson pointed out wasn’t unreasonable, is what Thomas thought and then laughed. A door connected to an other world is something that an adventurer would travel here and there for or would have to do with an elf who was versed in fearsome magic. It was a sort of fairytale that had nothing to do with a mere merchant. The only person who would openly believe that a door in the middle of the city would let you go back and forth to an other world would be an idiot with his head in the clouds.
“If you’ll go, you’ll know. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Even if you went to the other world, it wouldn’t be that much different from our world. Most importantly, what’s over there is the store that could be said to be our Alfade Company’s benefactor.”
As he said that, he put his hand on the brass-work door knob and turned it. As the well-maintained door knob turned, the sound of a bell ringing sounded out as the door opened.
“Benefactor’s store? …What kind of store is it?”
As he tried to push himself through to the other side of the door, his grandson asked this.
“The Other World Dining Hall… it’s a restaurant.”
As Thomas answered, he passed through the door. Contrasting with the dark warehouse, the bright interior of the restaurant spread out before Thomas’s eyes.
“Welcome… Aah, if it isn’t Thomas. Please wait for moment.”
As they went through the door, the owner of the restaurant had just finished wiping down the tables with a wet cloth. Coming from the kitchen, only the sound of pot bubbling and boiling could be heard. There were no other customers. To make sure he wasn’t a hindrance to other customers, Thomas came at an early time before they would even come.
“Aah, is it alright is we sat down somewhere while we wait?”
“Of course, I just finished wiping down that table over there so sitting down there should be alright. By the way, who is this person next to you?”
“Nice to meet you. I am Thomas’s grandson, Sirius. Thank you for always helping my grandfather.”
At the owner’s inquiry, Sirius lowered his head with the courtesy befitting of a merchant.
“Just as you heard, he is my grandson. From now on I’ll be bring him along every now and then, so take care of him when he does.”
“I see, your grandson. There’s certainly some resemblance with Thomas when he was younger.”
The owner nodded and replied.
From around thirty years ago, Thomas had been acquainted with the owner even when he was still a young child, and the owner knew much of Thomas who was a regular and a close acquaintance of his grandfather. The two of them spent a long time with one another and had the relationship of equal business partners as well as the relationship of close friends flowing between them.
“Well then, first I’ll bring out some coffee. Please wait just a moment.”
AS the owner said that, he headed to the back of the restaurant.
“A kind of other world tea. It’s black and has a bitter taste. Once you get used to it, it’s pretty tasty, and it’ll give you some energy when you drink it.”
While Thomas gave a simple explanation about coffee, he gave a heart-warming gaze at his grandson who looked around and around at the restaurant’s interior.
“You’re curious, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Is this the other world?”
What was reflected in Sirius’s eyes which looked about restlessly were only things that he was unfamiliar with.
“That’s right. Make sure to look closely. You understand that everything here is outside of our general knowledge right?”
“…I see. It certainly is.”
With Thomas’s words and his own eye for value as a merchant of the capital, Sirius became convinced. The lighting gave off the light of magic even though it should’ve been dark inside, and beautifully shaped glass bottles were arranged. Looking closely, he saw that the container holding some kind of black liquid was not made from pottery or glass even though he could still see through it, but it was made from some unknown material. This certainly was past the level of cultural difference of a foreign country.
“Thank you for waiting. Your coffee.”
As they had that conversation, the owner brought out some coffee. A fragrant smell drifted from the black liquid that was poured into two cups, and milk was put into a small metal water pitcher. These two things were placed in front of them.
“Ooh, sorry for the trouble.”
“No problem at all. Anyway, I’ll bring over the proceeds so please wait for a little while.”
As the owner said that, he once again headed back into the kitchen.
“Now then, let’s partake, shall we? Sirius, sorry but could you pass that blue pot… could you get me some sugar?”
“Ah, yes. This is some very high-quality sugar. It’s pure white.”
Sirius took the sugar pot and took two spoonfuls of sugar, which was no doubt similar to the high-class white sugar that the Alfade Company sold, and mixed it into the coffee. Taking it with two spoons of sugar and no milk was the way that Thomas liked it after experimenting over the long years.
While Thomas drank his coffee, he remembered that a customer from this restaurant told him about a drink called Caffa which was similar to this in a desert country, located on the far other side of the ocean, that the kingdom have very few dealings with. Feeling the skills of the worker who purified it, the pure sweetness of the sugar that had no unnecessary taste to it and the unique fragrance of the coffee jumped together and spread in his mouth, and the bitter taste with a slight sourness to it brought about a sense of harmony. The heat and the sweet bitterness passed through his tongue and soaked into his body.
With a ‘hou,’ he felt the sensation of his body relaxing and the sensation of hot energy welling up from the bottom of his body. Thomas secretly looked forward to whenever he came to this restaurant and got treated to some ‘free’ coffee.
“Hey now, you should drink it too before it gets cold. Try putting in some sugar. That’s my favorite but milk is good too. It has a soft flavor to it.”
“Okay… I’ll have some.”
Learning from his grandfather, Sirius also took two spoons of sugar before drinking a mouthful to make sure of the flavor. Afterwards, he then poured in plenty of milk.
“I see. It has a unique bitterness and sourness to it, but pretty delicious. This is.”
With plenty of milk, the coffee which now had a soft sweetness to it made Sirius’s face smile broadly.
Thanks to the Magic War finally coming to a pause, they could finally have largescale mercantile operations after who knows how many decades. Although the price of the sugar that was processed from the sugarcane they picked in the south had been falling thanks to the sugar that they got from the Western Continent, it was still a valuable product that costed silver coins to say nothing of the high-grade white sugar which price hardly changed. The Alfade Company valued a fat purse more than being poor nobles, so it was the family motto that any profits that they earned wouldn’t be used on any luxuries. Because of that, there weren’t many opportunities to taste such sweet things such as this.
(To be this pleased with sweets… Looks like he’s still a child.)
While pleasantly looking at Sirius who was knitting his eyebrows from the heat of the coffee as he drank it down in one gulp, Thomas thought this. Sirius, who was the son of a large company ever since he was born and lacked the shamelessness that merchants who worked their way up had, was Thomas’s favorite quick-witted grandson. The two of them enjoyed the other world’s coffee, and around the time they had finished drinking, the owner came back with a metal box under his arm.
“Thank you for waiting. I brought this month’s proceeds for the Other World Dining Hall. Do you mind if I hold on to that bag for you?”
“Aah, I’m counting on you. We’ll do the calculations in the meantime.”
Thomas gave back the empty cups and the bag he took with him over to the owner.
“Yes, this is certainly it. Well then, I’ll just leave this right up here.”
As the owner picked up the heavy looking bag, he then opened the metal box.
“Uwa… eight ancient elven gold coins.”
“…Umu. The same as usual.”
These gold coins that were somehow always in there every time were normally in the hands of aristocrats or wealthy merchants or on an elf himself or taken from some elven ruins by a skilled adventurer. If not, then you were out of luck finding them. Manufactured over one thousand years ago, these coins had the highest value to them as of now. There were eight of these ancient valuable gold coins, 41 silver coins of various origins, and around 700 copper coins.
Inside that metal box was crammed with one month of the Other World Dining Hall’s proceeds.
“Fumu. There’s a little bit more to this month’s sales.”
Thomas saw the general amount with the skills of a proficient merchant.
“This is… this shop’s proceeds?”
“That’s right. And also…”
He nodded as he answered. Looking after this restaurant’s monthly proceeds was Thomas’s responsibility.
“Inside of that bag is compensation.”
The ‘merchandise’ that Thomas brought was compensation.
“Inside of that bag… is ingredients?”
The merchandise that Thomas brought was full of high-grade foodstuffs, the Other World Dining Hall’s ingredients, that couldn’t be handled or prepared unless it was the Alfade Company’s doing. There was wheat, livestock meat, and all sorts of vegetables. There were things that you could find at the marketplace but also trade good that were transported a long ways from foreign countries and delicacies that could only be obtained from monsters that were defeated by hunters and adventurers. Trading the Other World Dining Hall’s proceeds with those said things was the deal between Thomas and the Other World Dining Hall.
“That’s right. Well, every now and then I bring in high-grade healing medicine and other things that can’t be found here. Normally, I sell ingredients though.”
Sirius nodded at his grandfather’s words. It certainly was a deal fitting for the Alfade Company that was good at handling things like foodstuff for the kingdom.
“But what is he going to do with those ingredients? There’s not enough amount for this restaurant’s cooking, I think.”
Looking at the situation, the Other World Dining Hall’s one month proceeds didn’t even reach an amount of ten gold coins. Thinking about the fact that the restaurant was open once every seven days, one day’s proceeds should be a little more than two gold coins. The amount of ingredients that the old man Thomas brought over wouldn’t be enough.
“Aah, you see, the owner himself is going to eat it apparently.”
Thomas had that same question in his head when he started this deal with the previous owner and asked him directly. The answer to his question was that.
“Eat it? The owner of this restaurant will?”
“Aah, the previous owner was the same. Apparently he’s using it to study their flavors.”
The ingredients that Thomas brought weren’t enough to give to the restaurant’s customers, and apparently there’s a problem with something called ‘sanitation’ so he couldn’t give it to the customers. Therefore, he’ll eat it himself. This is what the previous owner and current owner called ‘research.’
“I don’t know the thought process of a chef myself…”
He gave a simple introductory explanation to Sirius who still had a bewildered face. In the past, he heard from the owner the reason why he wanted ingredients from the Other World.
The Other World Dining Hall welcomed people from Thomas’s world as customers. Therefore, what was delicious to the tongue for a Japanese person… a person from an Other World like the owner was slightly different. Luckily, there weren’t any big differences, but unfortunately, there were still some differences.
Therefore, in order to match their tastes, he tasted the ingredients that Thomas brought, and then he would season it to make it taste like the dishes that were made from ingredients from his own world. Like that, he would tune it to match the mouths of the inhabitants from Thomas’s world.
“To go through all that… even though he won’t see of a profit.”
As he heard that story, Sirius made a face that seemed like he was convinced but still wasn’t convinced. Truthfully, looking at the proceeds that came from opening the Other World Dining Hall once every seven days, the rate didn’t add up.
“Well, to the owner, the Other World Dining Hall seems to be a hobby in itself it seems. Seeing the customers eat delicious things and be merry seems to be fun for him. …The current owner seems to resemble the previous owner in that regard.”
As he persuaded his grandson, Thomas laughed. He remembered that the previous owner was a person who treated cooking like a job and hobby as well. The Other world Dining Hall has been open in Thomas’s world for thirty years. Thomas knew that the fact the restaurant that the two of them loved and continued was due to the fruit of their labor.
“Thanks for the all the hard work. All the goods were definitely delivered.”
As they had that conversation, the owner came back with two menus.
“As always, I’ll treat you to one item so order anything you’d like. You too, Sirius.”
While he said that like it was a habit, he placed the two menus in front of them.
“I’ll have the same as always… that’s right, a large serving of spaghetti with meat sauce. Sirius, would you like that too?”
“Yes, I’ll leave it to you, grandfather.”
Nodding at their orders, the owner headed back to the kitchen. After a short while, what they were looking for came.
“Thank you for waiting. Your meat sauce.”
In front of the two of them, an emerald green tube and a shiny silver fork together with a large plate filled with plenty of a noodle dish was placed down. Covered on top of it was a bright red sauce filled with thin, minced pieces of meat.
“Umu. As I thought, you have to have spaghetti with meat sauce.”
The meat sauce that he had countless times at this restaurant… to Thomas, it was the taste of the beginning. Over thirty years he had increased his repertoire of noodle dishes in the pursuit of flavor. There was the time where he ate this and that including meat sauce and napolitan which formed a matchless pair, but finally he decided on this as his last ‘goal.’
“Huh? This is… grandfather?”
Once Sirius noticed that he seen this dish before, he became confused. With a troubled face, he look to Thomas for an answer. But Thomas ignored that and said this.
“What, you’ll know once you eat it. You’ll know various things. Now, let’s eat before it gets cold.”
Taking the well-polished fork that was left next to the plate in hand thrusted it into the meat sauce. Gently stirring the red sauce that was filled with plenty of thin, minced pieces of meat, he entwined the sauce closely with the noodles, and then he coiled a mouthful’s worth around his fork. With a gulp of saliva, he stuffed his cheeks.
Delicious. Every time he had it, that one simple word always came up in his thoughts. Meat… in the Other World’s words it is expressed as ‘niku.’ Sauce stewed together with the flavor of meat. The strong flavor of the soft cow’s meat that was not raised to plow the fields but raised for the sole purpose of eating and the flavor of the pig’s meat which was raised with the same care and covered in fat spread inside of his mouth together. Simply grilling and then eating them as is would be tasty enough, but instead they went through the trouble of finely mincing them and stewing them together, mixing the two different flavors of the meats and creating a flavor that couldn’t be found in either of them. Normally, it was a technique used to cover up cheap, bad, or rotting meat but when used with high-quality meat, it gave birth to a new flavor.
And the foundation for the meat sauce that wrapped around the high-quality meat was the flavor of the Other World’s vegetable that closely resembled a boiled marmette.** He remembered ten years ago in a remote small country, whose name was hardly known to the people living in the kingdom, the excitement he felt when he put one of the few dried marmette fruits in his mouth as he savored his food. The vegetable which was cooked well until it completely broke down into a liquid gave off a sourness with a hint of sweetness along with plenty of delicious flavor. The bright red marmette sauce matched with the meat as they raised their flavors together.
(Fumu… thinly sliced mushrooms and crushed roasted berries, along with oranie fried in oil and a variety of herbs.)
After he slowly swalled his noodles, he let out a breath. When was it that he could tell apart the numerous ingredients that gave this sauce its complex sensation? When he could barely be called a young man, the meat sauce that the previous owner made for him when he first came here could only be described as delicious as he scarfed it down. That’s how impactful it was. It was something unthinkable when looking at the simple tasting noodles that his own house sold.
“…Fumu. How is it? Sirius. The flavor of the Other World’s noodle cuisine.”
He called out to his grandson who took one bite and became lost for words. After Sirius was dumbfounded for a while, he spontaneously asked Thomas this.
“Why does this restaurant have something that we haven’t even released yet!?”
That’s right, he remembered this flavor. It was a sauce that they recently managed to make thanks to the collaboration of the peasants who stocked up money and scholars from the small mountain country using the fresh new vegetable, marmette, which they managed to grow in the kingdom’s fields.
It was a ‘new’ noodle sauce that was supposed to be sold during the summer. The flavor which closely resembled it… but greatly refined it spread out on Sirius’s mouth.
“Impossible… It can’t be!?”
Instinctively, Sirius looked at the menu filled with unknown names and their descriptions… and was convinced. The meaning of the words ‘benefactor’s store’ that his grandfather spoke of.
“That’s right. The words genius of culinary innovation is a lie. I went… ‘over there’ and just simply ate.”
He laughed as he admitted it. He glad that the day the truth came out finally came.
Thomas Alfade was a merchant. If there was any incentive, to profit and do business was the belief of a merchant. That was the start of the Alfade Company’s glory.
“Now then, let’s finish eating.”
As he said that, he took the green tube and the glass bottle filled with a red juice that was left on the table.
“What’s inside this green tube is ground, powdered cheese. When you cover the meat sauce with it, it gives it a mild taste. And this red juice is a sauce called tabasco. It has the spiciness of togaran and the sourness of vinegar… it’ll tighten up the flavor of the meat sauce.”
As he gave an explanation to his grandson who was eating it for the first time, he prudently poured some out. Like this, you could change the flavor to your own preference. It was the fun of meat sauce.
“Be careful for your first time. Add too much and you’ll hurt the flavor of the meat sauce.”
As he remembered the failures he had in the past, he warned his grandson and then took the two of them in his hand.
First, he ate the meat sauce that was carefully covered in tabasco. When he did that, a burning, hot spiciness was added to the sourness of the marmette and the flavor of the meat. Adding too much tabasco and you would end up in the awkward situation of having teary eyes, but adding a little tightened up the flavor.
Next, he took the finely grated cheese and softly covered it. The flavor of the cheese matched well with marmette when it was added to the meat sauce as well, but add too much and its texture would become powdery and the flavor of the cheese would overpower everything. After carefully adjusting the volume of the seasonings, he took his fork which was enveloped in meat sauce and brought it to his mouth.
(Umu. As I thought, I should have my company sell this… wait, I forgot I’m already retired.)
The red meat sauce along with its new spiciness and sourness and finally with the addition of the flavor of cheese gave birth to a new flavor that was different from before that made Thomas deeply satisfied. At that flavor, he forgot he was retired and let out a bitter laugh at that, and as a customer, enjoyed his meat sauce.
“Hello! You’re open now right!?”
From behind him, a hasty customer opened the door with a ring and asked this.
After that, the two of them finished one plate of meat sauce, and after enjoying their coffee, they left the restaurant. With a slam, the door closed… and disappeared. Thomas and Sirius had both returned to the gloomy wheat storehouse.
Sirius, while still dumbfounded, let out that word. When the door disappeared, he thought it was as though it were a dream. But the heavy bag filled with ingredients was gone and replaced by a bag in his hand filled with coins. On his tongue, he could certainly remember the taste of meat sauce. It was not a dream but reality. At the truth, Sirius laughed at the words his said.
“You can only go to that restaurant once every seven days. …The next time is in seven days.”
As if enjoying his grandson’s reaction, Thomas informed him of this.
“I’ll go to that restaurant once every four times. For the rest of the days, you can go if you want.”
He had decided to retire and become a ‘customer.’
“Are you sure?”
At the meaning of those words, Sirius licked some of the little meat sauce on his lips without knowing and asked his grandfather this.
“Aah, its fine. If I went as a regular customer and not a merchant, the owner wouldn’t make an unpleasant face either.”
As a perceptive old man, he nodded his head reluctantly. His merchant’s instincts told him that it would be better to leave it in the hands of his grandson who overflowing with ambition than for him who had a short time left.
“Thank you very much, grandfather. I see. I wonder what I should eat next…”
He looked at his grandson, who would no doubt go again in seven days, with narrow eyes. He thought whether his grandson would fulfill his own goal and ‘revive’ the other half of the many noodle dishes in the restaurant and discover the ways to make them.
*Togaran is what those on the other side call peppers.
**Marmette is what those on the other side call tomatoes.