Pre-chapter translator’s note:
Pardon any bad translations, this is my second novel. Synopsis was done really awkwardly because my Chinese sucks and it’s super difficult to translate some stuff from Chinese to English smoothly. O_o
This is set in an ancient setting, not modern times. The term ‘teacher’ is actually an archaic term, but there isn’t a suitable translation from Chinese to English.
The following translation is unedited.
If you see this, YOU ARE READING ON AN AGGREGATOR SITE. Please read this series on isohungrytls.com and support our translators. Releases are a day faster on ISO, so instead of using an aggregator site for convenience, use novelupdates.com[Translator: ChickenBakuba]
Chapter 1, The Broken Temple, Flower Chicken, and how I want to be the imperial chef!
Another deafening explosion boomed out from the kitchen of the Song family. The place shook.
A young person covered in dark, dirty soot scrambled out of the kitchen. The kitchen’s interior looked like it had exploded a few times. Dense black smoke billowed out of the kitchen.
The young person coughed and wheezed as she stumbled out from the cluttered mess of a kitchen behind her.
“Hai~ How’d it fail again? I’d clearly followed Dad’s recipe…”
-Young person’s POV-1
I really had no idea how I had messed up again. I stood at the doorway of the kitchen, carefully pondering over where it wennt wrong.
Just then, a middle-aged woman sprinted towards me with the speed of an athlete running the 100 meter Olympics. Her lips turned downwards in a stern and ferocious expression as she clutched the broom in her hands tightly. She looked like she was going to eat me…
“Song Xiran, you exploded the kitchen again?! Do you want to blow the entire house to smithereens?! Do you really want us to sleep on the streets? Why haven’t you left for school!”
Who else could the middle-aged woman glaring at me be, other than my mother? With her sprinting speed, she could pass off as Nezha if she was given the Universe Ring and the Red Armillary Sash.2
Looking at her angry expression, I made my escape. Grabbing my bag from one side, I moved like a master thief as I fled the place.
“Ma, take it easy, I’ll make a move first~”
She hollered at me as I ran off, shaking her fist at my back. “Little brat, you better study hard for this old lady…” I disappeared before she finished the sentence.
“It has only been so little since you left; yet it feels like an eternity. It is because of you that my heart aches…”3
The chorus of voices filled the classroom as everyone diligently read the passage aloud.
“What is there to even learn here? Cooking is way more interesting. Ma is so exasperating. She tells me everyday to ‘bring honour to the family’, but reading books like these everyday would bore anyone to death~”
I sat down at my desk and stretched my legs. Then I dug out my textbook from my bag. As I read along with everyone, I vented my discontent from the incident in the morning in my head.
“Song Xiran! Song Xiran!”
The teacher seemed to notice my thoughts wandering.
I took no notice of her as I lost myself in my monologue.
“Xiran, what are you doing? Teacher’s calling you.” My close friend, Weiqi, tugged at my clothes. I snapped out of my reverie.
Watching the teacher’s stern expression meekly, I knew I had landed onto trouble. I stood up hesitantly, fear and trepidation sinking in.4
“Song Xiran, what are you doing?”
That was when I realised that everyone had long finished reading. I felt the many eyes of my classmates lock onto me.
I stammered in response, “To a-a-answer teacher, I was reading.”
“Is that so? Then can you tell me where we’re at?” The teacher continued.
“We’re at…the cry…the cry…”
I winced, darting my eyes towards a classmate seated beside me. I shot him a look of panic.
Weiqi covered his face with the textbook as he whispered to me. “The cry of the deer, eating fields of apples.”5
“Ah, teacher, I know. It’s ‘The cry of the deer, eating lotus apples’!”6
I confidently said. To my surprise, the whole room roared with laughter.
The teacher glared at me with bulging, rage-filled eyes as he lashed out at me, “The harmony of the lotus duckweed, I fear you’ve eaten the lotus seed! Should I give you more lotus roots to make lotus soup? Are you here to study! When you read you don’t read properly, when it comes to schoolwork they’re also badly done. You only know how to be mischievous and daydream all day long! You clearly don’t put any heart in your studies! This old man’s reputation as a teacher is going to be single-handedly wrecked by you!”
“I never had any heart in my studies to begin with…” I mumbled to myself.
“You-you-you — What’d you say?! You’re a horrible student! A horrible student! Truly a case of rotten wood being unable to be carved on!7
“Go home and tell this to your mother: Forgive this old man’s incompetence too! Invite a better teacher from elsewhere! You don’t need to come from tomorrow onwards.”
The teacher was struck speechless by my words. He stroked his beard roughly and gruffly dismissed the rest of the class before turning his back around angrily to leave.
“I ‘don’t need to come’? Who said I wanted to? You obstinate old man~”
I swept everything into my bag and called out to Weiqi to follow me.
I breathed in the fresh air when I hit the street. The fresh air cleared my clouded mind and took away my frustrations as I watched the passing people and felt the cloth of the small shops by the street.
Weiqi glanced at me worriedly. “Xiran, you’ve been expelled from the school again. How will you explain this to your mother when you get back home? Aren’t you afraid of getting beaten?”
Actually, I didn’t really care about the whole thing. “If I get beaten then I get beaten, what about it? I don’t want to study. You know me.”
Weiqi was my neighbour. As far as I could remember, our families had a very good relationship with one another. He was a ‘brother’ I had grown up with, and my mother had a soft spot for him. She would invite him to our house to eat frequently. As a result, we shared a close relationship with each other.
Weiqi was handsome. I would even go as far as to describe him as attractive. He was a humble person of noble character, and was as gentle as jade.8 He did not seem anything like a child from an ordinary family. If anything, he seemed more fitted to be a child of some official or noble. He was the perfect person.
We didn’t hold anything back from each other. He knew basically everything about me, except for the fact that I was a female.9
I realised my stomach was growling after walking aimlessly for a few more minutes on the streets. A brilliant, angelic smile broke on my face as I turned to Weiqi.
“Weiqi, are you hungry? Why don’t we grab something nice to eat?”
He immediately saw past my ‘angelic’ facade. Assuring me he wasn’t the least bit hungry, he slowly inched backwards in a futile attempt to run. My hand clasped on his shoulder in an iron grip.
Trying to run? There isn’t anywhere to run!10
“Don’t be so quick to run, good siblings go through thick and thin together. If I see something delicious, how can I not share it with you~”11
I dragged him to a worn out and abandoned temple.
“Xiran, what are we here for?”
Weiqi watched me warily. Judging from his pure expression, he had probably never committed an act of public nuisance before. This would be fun~12
“See those wild chickens? If you grab one back, you can choose anything you want to eat. It’ll be my treat.”
I jabbed my finger beyond the broken temple, where chickens were raised through free-range.*
*Tler’s note: Google-chan: ‘Free range denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.’
“What wild chickens? Aren’t those domestic?”
Looks like I had underestimated his IQ. I have to resort to using some methods to trick him.
“Take a look, there’s nobody outside the broken temple rearing the chickens. The chickens hunted worms for food, produced eggs, and the eggs hatched. Which led to the huge family of chickens you see now. Think of it as us playing by the laws of the jungle by helping the chickens eliminate the weaker ones. It’s also rather convenient…for filling our stomachs. Isn’t this a win-win for everyone? Don’t you agree~” I winked at him. I may not have many strong points, but distorting facts into mistruths is one of them.
“But isn’t this theft…” Frustrating set in as I saw Weiqi waver. If convincing him wasn’t enough, then it was time to use force.
I snagged his collar with one hand.
“Don’t tell me you’re a coward, are you going or not? Oversensitive and cautious, you’re too timid! I know you’re wondering why I’m not going myself — it’s because I’m the one doing the cooking. Go on — I believe in you~”13
Under my threatens and bribery,* he helplessly snatched up a chicken and dealt with it.
I looked at the chicken with satisfaction. It was my turn now.
I was going to whip up something called a ‘flower chicken’. Fortunately, I had secretly slipped a few condiments inside my bag when I was testing out a new dish in the morning, just in case I needed them for something random. Who would’ve thought it would have turned out handy?
I evenly applied the pepper, salt, and other seasonings to the interior of the chicken. I even got Weiqi to forage for some wild berries and fruits. He came back with a myraid of varieties. Some were sweet, others were sour, juicy, tasty, etc. I applied the fruits and berries inside the chicken after crushing them into paste.
According to my Dad’s cookbook, a chicken broiled in this way would have succulent meat and a delectable taste. It would also carry the sweet fragrance of berries and fruits.
I found a broken jug. I dug up a bit of yellow soil and added a few drops of water to it, turning it into a thick gob of mud.
I applied the thick mud to the surface of the chicken evenly. The layer of mud coated the chicken, turning it into a ball of mud.
Next, I dug open a hole on the ground and buried the ball of mud inside it, filling up the hole until the ground was even once more. The hole was around 10 centimeters in depth.
Then I gathered a pile of dry twigs and started a bonfire on top of the place I’d buried the ball of mud. The fire began to burn nicely. I chatted to Weiqi as I watched the crackling fire.
When the bonfire began to extinguish and go cold, I dug up the ball of mud. I grabbed a stray stone on the ground and knocked it against the ball of mud gently. The ball of mud cracked and the layer of mud crumbled away.
I brushed away the last bits of hardened mud off the chicken. The feathers had come off the chicken together with the mud. The chicken lay before me completely featherless, naked.
After half a day of hard effort, the delicious and succulent ‘flower chicken’ was finally completed.
Because we didn’t have proper equipment and enough condiments, the dish was simple. To spice up the dish, we replaced the condiments with the materials we had on hand such as wild berries and fruits. Who would’ve thought it would have turned up this well?
I smeared some fruit juice over it before roasting it under the fire again.
The colour of the chicken’s skin was bright golden. The fruit juice that had soaked into the meat like honey had made the meat of the chicken juicy and tender. The sweet aroma of the chicken wafted into the air. The skin of the chicken was crunchy, but the fresh meat of the chicken underneath was sweet and tender. It carried a unique scent, nothing like the normal meat we had ever eaten before.14
Our stomachs growled impatiently as we waited for the chicken to finish roasting.
Looking at Weiqi anxiously waiting, I tore out a chicken leg and handed it to him first.
Then I tore a piece of chicken flesh for myself and stuffed it into my mouth. How delicious~
In a moment, the entire chicken was quickly devoured by Weiqi and me as we took apart the entire chicken like a pack of ravenous wolves.
After finishing, we smeared away the grease of chicken fat off our lips and patted our stomachs contentedly. Even if I got beaten when I returned home, it would be worth it.
The sky was quickly darkening. We quickly swept away all the chicken feather on the ground and prepared to return home.
I stood in front of my house, hesitating. I had already urged Weiqi to go home first earlier.
I know I had repeated that I wasn’t afraid. The chicken had also given me a confidence boost, but…I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive.
Good news did not leave the house, but bad news traveled a thousand miles.15
Mother probably knew about it. I didn’t know how she’d react. Her incessant nagging could really drive someone crazy. When she got mad, she could scare even a tigress away.
“Xi-Er, what are you doing at the door? Why have you come back so late? Quickly come in.” I heard my mother call at me from inside the house.16
“I’m finished.” I stepped into the house gingerly, closing the door silently. I bounded towards my room with small, quick steps.
“I heard you made the teacher fly into a rage again? And got expelled again?” An expression of displeasure was written all over her face.
Oh, it was about me getting expelled. At least it wasn’t me bringing Weiqi to steal chickens.
Of course, how could that be so quickly found out? I moped away the sweat on my brows, heaving a sigh of relief in my heart.
“I say, what are you going to do from now on? You’re a disappointment to your late father. It’s not easy for a single mother to raise a child all by herself, you know? Just to let you go to school and study, I sent you to school dressed in boy’s clothes disguised as a boy, I pointed out the road you should’ve taken, the road best for you! Not the same, wrong, path your father had taken!17
“Instead, twice every three days you stir up trouble for me, only thinking of how to cook and not studying properly. If this continues, you won’t have a future…”
Mother began to rattle off her usual nagging which I had heard too many times. It was enough for my ears to grow calluses.
“Ma!” I interjected, cutting off her prattling.
“Studying isn’t cut out for me. I don’t plan on studying anymore. I want to be a chef. I want to be like father, the best and famous imperial chef in the country. I want to research and explore forgotten recipes; I want to create the best dishes. I want—“ I inhaled deeply. “I want to cook.”
“You shut up, I won’t allow you to become any ‘imperial chef’.”
“You what? You better study properly for me. Don’t tell me you forgot about your father…” My mother choked on her words.
My father’s death had always been my mother’s sore point.
My mother had told me before that my father was the best chef in the country, the famous imperial chef. That was, until he met with misfortune. He had been framed and eventually died.
My mother had fled and settled down here with me and raised me by herself with her two hands.
Hence, she did not want me to have anything related to the title ‘imperial chef’. Problem was, I was bad at everything. Nothing I did was correct. Except for one thing.
Cooking. It was my sole passion, and I was good at it. And thus the dream of following in my father’s footsteps to become the number one chef – the imperial chef – happened.
Except that my ‘talent’ and passion – cooking – had made my mother feel like her head could explode.
One after another, she sent me to many different schools. But as for the troublesome me…if I wasn’t teasing a dog, then I was bullying a cat.[/footnote]Unsure of the reference, and unsure of how to translate either.[/footnote]
I had angered the teachers in school so much that they had almost kicked the buckets. Needless to say, I had been promptly expelled from all the schools.
“Song Xiran, why are you such a disappointment, you’ll be the death of me. Go to the study and reflect upon yourself! If you don’t reflect properly, you cannot leave the room! And you won’t have anything to eat!” Mother screeched. Her eyes had turned slightly red from her angry outburst.
Mother was truly angry this time. Normally she’d incessantly nag me, but today, she had really flown into a rage. One can imagine how deep her anger goes…[/footnote]Unsure of what the last part means either.[/footnote]
But my heart had been unmoved even after her outburst. If I can’t eat, then I can’t eat; even if I can’t eat, I will become the imperial chef!
Chapter 1, END
If you see this, YOU ARE READING ON AN AGGREGATOR SITE. Please read this series on isohungrytls.com and support our translators. Releases are a day faster on ISO, so instead of using an aggregator site for convenience, use novelupdates.com
Post-chapter translator note:
Well it delved right into the conflict in the first chapter. Personally, I would have preferred it if they had only revealed why her father was missing and her drive to become imperial chef later on in the story. This is probably the one thing I dislike in CN novels, revealing everything in long lines of expository immediately. CN novels have 0 plot twists.
But the novel looks good. Really good. Clearly not a heartwarming innocent Yuri novel with fluff everywhere. I’m getting Shokugeki no Soma vibes.
First chapter word count is crazy, even by Xianxia novel standards. (~3,475 words in total. Normal Xianxias/action novels only hit up to 2.5k words max with footnotes ;_;) Hope you enjoyed it.