The first time I cooked here was because I was forced to camp out on my way back to the Royal Capital.
It took them ten days to get from the castle in Elzevert to the royal capital when they came.
This is because the journey was tailored for women and children…namely me, and I chose only large cities to stay in with plenty of time to spare on the itinerary. If one doesn’t care about such things at all, you can get there in about five days. If you’re on a fast horse, it takes about three days.
We were in a hurry to get there, partly because we were carrying Ellucia’s body. Our plan was to arrive in six to seven days, even if five days was impossible.
However, on the third day. We were about halfway through the ride when the wheels of my carriage came off. If you look closely, you can see that the axle is worn out and will have to be replaced. Replacing the axle would take a bit of time.
“…We probably won’t be able to get into the next town in time. There are no towns or villages around here…”
Slightly larger towns close their gates at night. Once the gates are closed, no one can enter the city without special permission.
“It is possible to open the closed gates with your name, Your Highness.”
Lilia adds the words.
I shook my head. I will not push that kind of pressure as much as possible. It’s not something I have to push through.
“We’re going to be camped out tonight, is that alright?”
Originally, I had prepared for the tent and other encampments.
Traveling in this world, unless you have a lot of money to spare, encampment is the norm. Living in the modern world, I, for example, would immediately think that staying in a hotel or inn would be a good idea, but accommodation are only available to those with a reasonable income.
There aren’t that many specialized accommodations, and you have to be in a slightly larger town to get them. If there is no accommodation available, everyone usually goes to the church. They give some charity to the church and stay in an empty lodge.
We were a large group of about 80 people. There is no place for this many people to stay in a small town, let alone in a big town.
The town we stayed in yesterday was also small, and we were allowed to rest in the church, while the knights pitched their tents around the church. It was a natural perception for them to encamp, and it wasn’t a problem for them, as long as we were patient.
It was cold in the middle of the ice month, but this is not an area where the snow gets very deep. I figured that if we kept the fire going, we’d be fine for a night or so.
I was also made to wear woolen tights, a full-length fur-lined hooded cloak and boots with fur insoles. They were completely defensive.
The encampment was set up by the water, a short distance from the road. There is a forest for protection from the wind, so it is a good place to see.
The knights were busy pitching their tents and tending to their horses, and it was assigned to my maidservants to make meals.
Partly because they are useless at hard work, but also partly because they want to be fed as soon as possible.
“Your Highness will be resting here, so please.”
The knights set up a simple fireplace with stones and a chair by it.
I slept in the carriage with the horses removed. The back of the carriage seat could be folded down and cushioned to make a cot. They also provided a small double-layered tent by the side of the carriage.
From the wagon, a box of pots and pans and vegetables was unloaded
On such journeys, there is a lot of self-catering. If they are staying in a church or a lord’s house, they usually prepare more ingredients because they rent a place to cook by themselves.
“What are you making?”
“Because the staple food is the military is portable storage biscuits, I think I’ll serve it with soup…the hunters have caught a pheasant for me.
It’s no surprise that they hunted along the way. Otherwise, fresh meat would hardly be available.
“Yes. I’m looking forward to it.”
I give a small smile. Lilia and her handmaids are smiling happily.
A chain of smiles. My somber mood brightens.
That’s scary though, that touch.
In Dardinia, the wives and daughters of the nobility rarely cook for themselves.
They may consult with a cook to decide on a menu or to preside over a dinner, but they rarely cook by themselves. This is a trend that is more pronounced as one gets older.
Julia drops the potato she’s been peeling and Alice cuts her fingers.
“What are you doing?”
Lilia gets a dumbfounded look on her face.
As expected of Lilia, she is very handy. She and Miredei, the daughter of the caretaker of the Imperial Farm, who has cooking experience, are struggling together.
It’s not that cooking is something to be taken lightly.
Rather, cooks are recognized here as highly paid professionals. The highest paid servant is the butler, but a skilled cook can earn a stipend comparable to that of a butler.
The head chef of a nobleman’s mansion is treated as a distinguished person by the locals, and it is said that the first thing a poor man in a rural village wants to do is to become a chef.
However, the cooking facilities are not that well developed and accidents are common. The kitchen, which is always on fire, is a dangerous place, and from a spirit of chivalry, it is said that the wives and daughters of the nobility are not allowed to enter the kitchen very often.
Among the people in the cities and rural areas, it is quite the contrary; cooking is an important part of the housewife’s job and men are not allowed to enter the kitchen to avoid disturbing her.
Today, if it takes too long, I’m going to be a little frustrated…
I wasn’t satisfied with my lunch break. The sun is going down and I’m sure I’m hungry.
The knights are used to camping, so they are very handy, and are already getting ready for it.
Aside from us, not all of the knights can enter the tent. More than half of us will be huddled shoulder to shoulder by the fire. At the very least, I want to feed them something that will warm them to the core.
“…I’ll do it too.”
I read about this dish. A dish that warms the body. I will make it.”
Sorry, I lied when I said I read about it in a book. It’s the first time I’ve cooked for this many people outdoors, but it’s better than these unremarkable handed maids.
I quickly pick up the knife Alice was using before Lilia could say anything to me.
In truth, I was going to watch quietly. But it was painful to just sit there and do nothing, and I wanted to cook for the first time in a long time.
“Alice, when you’re done tending to your wounds, get the knights to fetch a pot of water.”
“When you’re done, put the seasonings on that board.”
My hands move. They’re small, but they’re good with knives. That’s good. I haven’t lost touch with my fingertips.
“Now, if anyone has a free hand, peel the potatoes. You don’t have to peel the carrots and daha, just wash them clean and…chop them up like this, about this thick.
I show a handful of knights a sample of daha chopping. Daha is a green radish. It tastes clean and looks just like a radish, but it’s yellow-green in color. If I had the time, I’d like to use it to make furofuki or something.
“Did you wash the mushrooms and take the meat apart? Yes. Then cut it into bite-sized pieces.”
In this case, all you need is speed.
I looked at the seasonings on the table and saw that there was miso. It tasted like barley miso from Kyushu. I licked it up and it tasted very similar, which is good! I thought. I love barley miso.
Let’s make a pheasant soup with miso. With lots of ginger and green onions.
I chopped the ginger generously and mix half of it with the miso. Then marinate the salted pheasant, rinsed and soaked with wine. I’d like to leave them to marinate for an hour or so, but I can’t afford to be extravagant here.
There are about 80 people in all. It takes a lot of effort to make a dish for all of them.
“Do you have a bowl or something for everyone?”
A pale gold-haired man beside me answers my question.
“Knights always carry three servings of portable food. The lid of the can that contains the rations is a plate, and the container part is a bowl.”
“Really? Isn’t it hot in a can?”
“It’s hot. But I’m used to it.”
I’ve never heard of it before.
He says you can boil it in the can. Maybe it’s like a cooking bowl…It was a secret that I’ve been wanting to get one of those for a while. No, I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to use it though.
“Oh, wash this. And then wash the mushrooms. Then add more oil to the pan…yes.”
The Knights have squires who are in charge of the cooking duty. The two of them, Greg and Orr, took charge of the actual cooking for me, who had no strength.
“First, stir-fry the ginger.”
I chopped up a little red pepper and mixed it with the half of ginger I had left over.
The sound of the chopped ginger and the aroma in the winter night air made everyone look at us.
“I’ll pull out the meat…and fry it all up with the miso.”
The fire gets stronger and stronger. I could smell the fragrant smell of burning miso.
Then, I fried the pheasant meat. It is important to brown the miso first.
The stick stirring the pot looked like the axle of a carriage that had been replaced.
“Oh, that’s the axle. It’s all right. I’ve scraped the surface all over.”
No, that’s not the point…No, let’s not worry about that…
Next, I poured the hot water that was boiling vigorously in a large pot next to me into the pot. There was a sizzling sound, and steam rose up from the pot.
I was startled when a drop popped on my hand. I was just startled, but Greg and Orr were so blatantly pale. I stifle their attempts to apologize on their knees and instruct them on the procedure. This isn’t a big deal.
“It’s fine. It’s just a little splash…Oh, now throw in some vegetables.”
Once the veggies were cooked, I would finish them off to taste. The ladle was a normal size. If I dropped the ladle into the pot, I’d probably lose it…That’s how big the pot was.
I poured the salt in the bucket with a ladle. It’s might seem too large, but with this amount of salt, there’s no way around it.
When I poured the last of the white wine into the glass, Count Stassen looked like it was a waste. Apparently, he likes wine, but the alcohol adds a nice depth of flavor.
“…Is it ready yet?”
It was the blonde man who had been waiting for me for a while. He was well brought up in the manner of growing boy. And on top of that, he has the best face I’ve ever seen.
It’s obvious that Alice and Julia have been conscious of him since a while ago.
“Yes. Oh, before you eat it, put some scallions on it to your liking.”
…Oh, wait? Maybe it’s that guy…the third brother who was escorting me.
“Your Highness, this is very good. Where did you get this dish from?”
“Well…I read in a book. I read that adding a lot of ginger will warm you up, so I thought it would be just right…”
I was about to confirm, when I was approached by someone I didn’t know. I can’t think of a name, so it could be a knight of Elzevert. While I was talking to him, the person who looks like my brother disappeared from my sight. The next time I see him, I’ll remember to thank him.
The supposedly well-behaved knights are swarming the pot with cheers at the warm smell spreading in the night.
“…Your Highness, this is very good.”
Lilia rolls her eyes as she speaks with trepidation. Somehow, before I knew it, Lilia had stopped calling me princess.
I wondered when it started, but I couldn’t remember for a moment.
But even though I’ve been called your highness again, I feel like we’re somehow closer than before.
“I didn’t know that Your Highness knew how to cook.”
“It’s not all that much.”
I return Count Stassen’s words with a smile.
The Count’s face has turned a little red, and it can’t be the firelight.
A beautiful girl’s smile is an amazingly powerful thing.
Thanks to that, it wasn’t pursued.
…As far as I can tell, it’s not from Arthirea, because as far as I can tell, the cooking tips came from me.
Let’s just push the idea that it’s knowledge I read in a book. Fortunately, it seems to be a known fact that Arthirea is a well-read child.
Here and there, there are murmurs of deliciousness and other unfamiliar phrases.
It seems that my miso-based pheasant soup was a great success. I’m not very good at this kind of outdoor cooking, but I’m glad it worked.
“Your Highness, please enjoy your meal.”
My portion is also brought in a wooden bowl. A wooden spoon is attached to the bowl. It is easy to use because it is carefully crafted and comfortable in the hand.
Truthfully, this is easier to eat with than the silver cutlery, but I have no choice because it also serves as a preventive measure against poisoning.
It’s very good to eat hot soup while outside. And that’s why we all gather around the fire to eat it together.
Come to think of it, it’s the first time I’ve had a meal with someone since I came here.
I was the only one sitting on a chair, and the rest of us were sitting on stumps, stones, or tree branches on the ground.
The difference in status is blatantly apparent.
I have to accept this as a given.
But even so, I feel much closer to everyone than I did in Elzevert’s castle.
“It tastes better when we all eat together.”
Count Stassen, sitting next to me, narrowed his eyes at the words he mumbled without telling anyone.
Let’s not forget…
The red-burning flames, the nice smelling steam rising from the air, and the buzz of cheerful knights.
I’m sure this kind of opportunity doesn’t come along often.
Once we arrive at the royal capital, the guards that were organized just for this sneak attack will be disbanded.
Lilia’s face slightly stained with alcohol, Julia’s smile as she refills her drink, and Alice and Miredei’s face as they talk privately. My heart aches that Ellucia is not here.
But it was so warm and fun to watch.
That’s why I decided to never forget this…because I was sure it would be a memory that would warm my heart every time I remembered it.
It was not long after I returned to the Royal Capital that Count Stassen and the thirty knights in his guard, with the permission of His Majesty the King, pledged their loyalty to me with a sword.
T/N: The way to their hearts was through the stomach (つ≧▽≦)つ
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One thought on “Chapter 10: First Time Cooking”
😍😍😍 This chapter warms my heart tooo…
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