As soon as Lin Dan's words are finished, all the people present are shocked. Even the emperor who has the situation well in hand shows an expression of surprise.
According to Lin Dan, zongzi will be sent to the ordinary people to taste and let them choose for themselves. The final choice must be the taste they like. They don't know who made these two barrels of zongzi, let alone whether it is related to the outcome of a competition, so they can get the fairest result.
No one can refute Lin Dan's words, not even the emperor, because he has promised to give Lin Dan a fair and just competition, everything, can be decided by her. The emperor is so noble that he can’t break his words.
Only then does the emperor realize Lin Dan's real intention. The control power over this competition is no longer in his hands, nor is it in the hands of the judges, but in the hands of the people. In order to prevent him from using imperial power to interfere, she even stipulates that only those who enter the city, not those who leave can get zongzi. The reason is that the emperor can arrange people to go out of the city to collect zongzi, but he cannot control those who enter the city, only god knows who and when will come to the capital city today.
However, the two barrels of zongzi have been mixed together. Even if the emperor has great magic powers to immediately send a message to let his people dressed as civilians enter the city, but those people can’t tell which barrel of zongzi is Yan Langqing's. In the end, he has to rely on his taste preferences. Besides, he can’t risk his face to find out whom the two barrels of zongzi belong to.
Is this fair? The emperor shakes his head, unexpectedly laughs loudly, "Fair, so fair! Guards, move the two barrels of zongzi to the west gate, and distribute them to those who enter the city. After tasting, each entrant will only be allowed to choose one, not more." In this way, each entrant can only take the one they like best.
The emperor has originally been planned to back Yan Langqing, because this is the woman he has a crush on, and she has just been wronged, spoiling her is just fine. But now, he thinks Lin Dan is very interesting, and this competition is also very interesting. Why don't he be fair and make it more interesting? Next, he will do nothing and will not allow others to break the rules. Let the people judge the results.
Seeing the emperor's cheerful expression, Tang Jiu finally breathes a sigh of relief and looks at Lin Dan with relaxed expression. His eyes become very lustrous, and then he smiles slightly. Once again, he worries for nothing. Lin Dan can always face any impasse calmly and then walk out of the way with her persistence and intelligence.
The Weiyuan Marquis’ lazy casual expression finally fades, now he turns his head, staring at Lin Dan straight. Lord Cheng and Lord Gong whispers together, laughing in a low voice and looking in a good mood. The Duke of Yunnan and Guizhou just rubs his cup and occasionally looks up at Lin Dan with deep eyes.
Yan Langqing is the one with the stiffest expression. In any case, she has not imagined that Lin Dan would put forward such a judgment rule. However, after careful consideration, she has to admire Lin Dan's intelligence. The emperor especially likes women with quick thinking and likes interesting things. He must like Lin Dan very much now and will not take sides with either side.
Yan Langqing feels uneasy, but she is not very flustered because she believes in her cooking skills.
A group of people come to the west gate and pick a high platform on the gate to look down. Two barrels of zongzi are placed side by side by guards, and one is peeled off and broken to let the entrants taste. As Dragon Boat Festival is approaching, many rich people will distribute zongzi to the poor, all of which are due to virtue and good deeds. Therefore, passers-by are not surprised. Moreover, due to the guards guarding them, they dare not plunder. Guards say only those who enter the city can take it, and only those who enter the city can take it. They say only one can be taken away, and no one dares to ask for more.
After tasting both, the entrants soon take their favorite zongzi and leave. The emperor stands on the high platform and looks down. His bored mood has long been replaced by excitement and expectation. He likes this kind of competition, which is uncontrollable, so it is more interesting.
It takes time to process glutinous rice and streaky pork. It is already afternoon when the two get zongzi ready. It is only half an hour before the gate is closed. And they have been delayed for a while on the road, so neither barrel of zongzi can be delivered all to the entrants. However, this doesn’t hinder judgment. There is no doubt that whoever has less zongzi left will win.
They move to a nearby restaurant and take one of the most luxurious rooms. The emperor hurriedly shouts as soon as he enters, "Guards, count the zongzi in the barrels."
Two guards immediately walk to the barrels and count the zongzi in each of them respectively. After the results are obtained, they write the numbers down on paper, and ask the other two guards to count them again. By counting for three times, they all get the same numbers. Then they finish counting. One of the guards walks to the emperor, cups his hands and says, "Report to Your Majesty, there are 288 pieces of zongzi left in the left barrel, 63 zongzi left in the right barrel, so the right one wins."
The gap between the two is really big! The emperor looks at Lin Dan and raises his eyebrows. "Can you recognize which barrel is yours?"
Lin Dan goes to the right and says with certainty, "Of course."
Yan Langqing looks at the two barrels, vacillating, her face is slightly pale.
"How do you know this barrel is yours?" The emperor looks at Lin Dan with a smile.
"I tied a knot at the end of each rope when wrapping zongzi. You can check it yourself if you don't believe me." Lin Dan takes out a piece of zongzi and shows the rope to others. There is indeed a small knot at the end. One can't find it without looking at it carefully in hands.
In order to show fairness, several guards immediately take out all the zongzi and examine them one by one. They nod and say, "Report to Your Majesty, the zongzi on the right are tied with knots, and those on the left are not."
Lin Dan says, "Even if you can’t find the knots, just open the bamboo leaves. Chef Yan, can't you tell your own craft apart?" She picks up two pieces of zongzi and slowly opens them.
If you don't open the leaves, both look exactly the same in size and the shape, as if they are made by the same person. However, when the bamboo leaves are completely disassembled, the inside difference is very big. Previously, when people stood on the high platform overlooking the gate, they could not see clearly what the situation was. But now, the two pieces of zongzi are lying in the jade-white dishes and are all under their eyes.
The zongzi on the right is golden with a clear surface, which looks very delicate and small. The one on the left, its two ends are slightly yellowish white, and the middle part is reddish brown, which seems to have been dipped in a large dye vat and looks very complicated. Whether the dishes are good or bad depends on the color, aroma and taste. After seeing the difference between the two, everyone has to admit that judging from the appearance, Lin Dan has already won.
All the zongzi wrapped by Yan Langqing are of such mixed color, because glutinous rice is white and pickled pork spiced with sauce. The two are steamed together and will naturally dye each other and become less attractive. But she never expects that the glutinous rice soaked in gray water by Lin Dan will turn into brilliant gold and looks very tender and lovely. What exactly is the reason?
She is shocked and she complains, "This is not right! Lin Dan's glutinous rice has been soaked in gray water and it is dirty. How can it look better than mine? "
Before the crowds show their surprise, Lin Dan slowly begins to speak, "You only have a one-sided view. Do you know that the ash formed by burning firewood is cleaner than the spring water, and the dirt inside has been burned off due to the quenching of the flame. Gray water with ash also contains a magical medium, which can be used to clean hands and make dry goods. Soak hard and dry goods in gray water, softening is several times faster than that of clear water. The zongzi I wrapped were soaked in this gray water, called Gray Water Zongzi, which is a specialty of the Baiyue region. Glutinous rice soaked in gray water is not only not dirty, but also stained with a layer of golden yellow; it is soft, glutinous with rich and unique aroma and smooth taste, which is more delicious than ordinary zongzi."
She stretches out her hand and motions, "After the comparison, everyone can judge the aroma and the taste of the two."
The emperor picks up the plate, sniffs the two pieces of zongzi carefully, and can’t help lifting the top of his brows. Then he hands the plate to the old cook beside him. After smelling it, the old cook's eyes light up and he hands it to the next judge. They sniff and finally hand it to Yan Langqing.
Yan Langqing, who has not been yet convinced, has a bloodless complexion after smelling it. This gray water zongzi is indeed like what Lin Dan has said, with a faint aroma of vegetation, and a fresh astringency and faint sauce fragrance mingled with it, which is very unique. But her zongzi are just with the aroma of rice and meat. Although they smell good, they are not rich in layers. Compared with Lin Dan's zongzi, they look ordinary.
"Taste it, everyone." Lin Dan picks up chopsticks with great composure and splits the two pieces of zongzi.
The crowds taste the two kinds of zongzi respectively, and the awe on their faces is even stronger. It is all because of that this gray water zongzi is not only bright in color and luster, unique in aroma, but also very soft, glutinous and smooth in taste. Although it has been cooled, the taste remains. It feels slightly elastic when eaten into the mouth. First, it tastes a little sweet of glutinous rice, and then it pours an astringent taste. Finally, it is rich in the taste of sauce and meat that can remain for a long time. The rich juice fills the mouth and makes people have endless aftertaste.
To eat Yan Langqing's zongzi after tasting Lin Dan's zongzi, the taste is decreased immediately by several levels. The white glutinous rice zongzi has been cooled down. It is less soft and glutinous than that when it first comes out of the steaming pot. It is slightly sticky and hard to chew. The core is hard and hard to swallow. Even the meat stuffing has caked and looks dry.
Seeing the frowning brows of all the people, Lin Dan says slowly, "When you eat gray water zongzi after they are completely cold, the taste is better. It is slightly elastic while it is soft and glutinous, and it is very easy to eat. Even if it has no stuffing, one can eat it with sugar and the taste is wonderful, let alone the one with meat stuffing. Ordinary white glutinous rice zongzi will become dry and hard after being thoroughly cold, and it is not easy to eat. It needs to be heated and eaten again. This is the difference between the two. In order to prevent you from saying that it isn’t reasonable, I will take two more pieces of zongzi and heat them up. "
Yan Langqing's hands are shaking with chopsticks; she says nothing but looks at the emperor with hope.
The emperor laughs loudly and motions with his hand, "Servants, go and heat the zongzi!"
Immediately, two imperial servants take the zongzi to the kitchen and later return with a food box. The white rice zongzi after heating is indeed very soft and glutinous, and its taste is much better than before, but the gray water zongzi made was golden, with fine and rich grease flowing out of the gap of glutinous rice, giving it a layer of clear and bright luster. One can’t even evaluate how many times it is better than the white glutinous rice zongzi made by Yan Langqing.
The emperor takes a fancy to the gray water rice zongzi at a glance, immediately picks up chopsticks, tastes one mouthful, and then he is satisfied with great admiration. Glutinous rice soaked in gray water is sweeter, softer and smoother, and is completely soaked by the juice secreted by the meat stuffing. Each bite is with rich and delicious meat flavor, which makes people wish to swallow their tongues. After tasting Lin Dan's secret gray water zongzi, the emperor only has four words in his mind when he tastes Yan Langqing's white glutinous rice zongzi--plain and nothing new.
After the two kinds of zongzi are disassembled, the gray water zongzi is good-looking and delicious, while another is bad-looking and hard to eat. No wonder Lin Dan's barrel is almost empty while Yan Langqing's barrel is still half full. This time, she really loses without injustice.