We started cleaning less than two hours. Thanks to two people who worked hard, the kitchen was sparkling clean in no time.
I look up at the oven, which is not quite as good as new, but is clean and polished, with a sense of satisfaction.
“Look at this too, look!”
The floors and walls are shiny.
The floor and walls are spotless, but of course they are old. There are some stains on the walls and the floor is sticky in places. But the kitchen is surprisingly clean and polished, which has completely changed the impression of the place.
Cleanliness is best in the kitchen!
“…I never knew it was so beautiful here.”
“This is the normal state of affairs. A kitchen is for handling the food that goes into the mouth, so it has to be shiny all the time!”
I clench my fists tightly and forcefully.
Cleanliness is important.
“…So what were you talking about before?”
I ask the two men sitting languidly on the floor. These two must have had something to talk to me about.
I put the sugar jars and salt cans back on the shelves where I cleaned them out.
…Sugar, salt, and this is probably flour…that big bag over there was also flour. Then this burlap sack is buckwheat. And this jar looks like honey…
Not that many things are available, of course.
It’s an orphanage, so it’s not very wealthy…So, that’s about the standard of the average person’s home kitchen.
After settling in a bit, I became extremely curious.
The shiny, polished pots and pans are old but made of proper copper.
Probably a luxury item because this is an adjunct to the cathedral. Maybe these kids don’t think of it as a luxury item, though.
Some things are a bit disproportionate, aren’t they?
For example, sugar. Sugar is expensive, but now that it can be produced domestically, it’s becoming more common in Dardinia for households.
But there are two kinds of sugar here.
Let’s just say there’s brown, regular sugar, which is okay. It’s the cheapest sugar that you can get your hands on at home, and it’s a bit messy, but it’s delicious.
But white crystal sugar is different. This plain white sugar is so expensive that it was used as a medicine in the old days. It’s not the best product, but it’s probably too expensive to be in this orphanage.
…I’m sure that’s just because this is an orphanage with a cathedral.
It is said that if you take 20 steps, you will find God, and so the royal capital of Al Greya has many cathedrals and shrines of various sizes. They are not limited to the Luthia Orthodox Church, the state religion.
There are also shrines to various other religions, folk beliefs, and indigenous gods, showing the tolerance for religion in Dardinia.
It is said that there are more than three hundred such institutions in the capital, which means that there are always enough donations and charitable contributions to support the operation of so many religious institutions. In other words, the people of Royal Capital can afford to live that well.
If they were really poor, they wouldn’t be able to donate or give money.
If you are too busy getting food, you can’t be donating or giving.
I once asked His Eminence Shion about it, and he told me that the most common item donated or given away in the Luthia Orthodox Church is gold. This is because gold is called the grace of the Mother Goddess, and it is said that it was born when the light of the Mother Goddess fell to the earth.
And the second most common offering after gold is sugar. This was started by the mother goddess, who must have had a sweet tooth because she was a woman, which may or may not have been a lie. But nowadays sugar is a standard delight in the cathedral.
The poor donate cheap brown sugar, and the rich donate expensive white sugar.
That’s why there is always more sugar in the cathedral than they can sell.
His Eminence Shion, who has quite a sweet tooth, once told me that one of the reasons he became a clergyman was so that he could have as many sweets as he wanted, and I don’t know how far he was serious. He also said that such examples in the clergy were not uncommon.
They use donated sugar to make jam and sugar candy for the goddess, which is quite popular, but they still have a sugar surplus.
That’s why there’s so much in the orphanage, which doesn’t seem to be able to afford to live very well…
This large sugar jar is a somewhat disproportionate luxury allowed only in an orphanage attached to a cathedral.
Sugar is a commodity in high demand. You can sell it for money to buy various other things, but in fact, the direct sale of these joyful items is forbidden in the cathedral.
Buying and selling items dedicated to the Mother Goddess is not allowed.
So, what are all those other items sold in the cathedral, you may ask?
For example, the standard jams and baked goods that are laid out on a platform in a corner of the cathedral as souvenirs…This is not actually sold in any form.
In this instance, all donated sugar was once dedicated to the Mother Goddess, and the processed version of it was also supposedly made for her. And what was handed down to us by the Mother Goddess was given to us as a gift. The price for the gift is always an offering, but it is not a sale.
Kind of a quibble, though.
So if you can run a successful operation without violating any religious precepts, then I think that’s fine.
“I have a request for you.”
The boy who introduced himself as Ragg says to me with a serious look on his face.
“If you feel any kind of gratitude to us, I hope you’ll do us a favor.”
In a somewhat more polite tone than Ragg, and with equal seriousness, Rufa said so just as seriously.
“I would like to thank you two as much as I can, but there are things that I can do and things that I can’t do.
I can’t make a cheap contract.
“…It’s not that hard. I want you to eat this first.”
Ragg held out a plate to me that I didn’t know where it came from.
“……What is this?”
“Can you eat it for the time being?”
…Oh, I’m a little hesitant to eat anything without checking for poison.
After all, His Highness has warned me a lot.
But it’s a bit rude to say no here.
It’s a bit painful to break His Highness’ word.
Then I looked at the plate presented to me in a serious manner.
It was probably a cookie on the white plate.
It’s probably not an elaborate trick. The ingredients are very ordinary.
…looks like a regular cookie
At the very least, they are unlikely to contain the kind of toxins His Highness is worried about.
“They’re cookies made by the best cook in our house.”
“A woman is courageous! And then I put the cookie in my mouth.”
A little powdery and chewy. No special toppings. The faint buttery aroma is accented by the faintest hint of butter.
It may be good to add a little sweet hot milk or something.
“What do you think?”
“How does it taste?”
They lean forward to look at me.
“… Normal, I guess.”
There’s a little bit of burnt stuff mixed in, but the flavor is nothing special. It’s just a very ordinary cookie.
I guess tit’s neither good nor bad…
“And this one?”
It’s a baked good on the plate that Rufa presented to me.
It looks vaguely like a financier, but…
I pinch it with my fingertips and stare at it intently.
After observing the square baked sweet, I put it in my mouth.
The strong scent of butter is the same as the cookie from earlier.
Maybe the ingredients are almost the same.
Eggs, flour, and then butter.
“…This is also normal.”
I guess they wanted to make a pastry like a financier, but it’s not quite there yet, or maybe it’s still far from being a financier.
“Then this is the next one!”
This time, Ragg brings the plate again and offers it to me.
“…Isn’t this a little too burnt?”
What I ate was a crispy stick pie. The dough itself is fine, although it looks a bit burnt out.
“…Tasting is fine, but what in the world do you want me to do?”
What do these kids want?
I glance at them and to the three plates laid out on the kitchen table. They looked at each other and then at me.
“Ah…well, it’s a long story if we start at the beginning.”
At any rate, I have time.
They looked at each other, and then they talked for a bit longer.
T/N: Sorry it took a little longer than usual to post this! I hope everybody had a wonderful New Years!
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