Old friends will naturally be happy beyond words when they meet each other; Aunt Wang takes Lin Dan's hand and speaks for a long time. It is like to be back at home to Lin Dan. She ties up her turban and rolls up her sleeves and naturally starts to work. When the handsome man comes back with two buckets of water, he sees that Lin Dan has been sitting in the kitchen grinding soybean milk. Aunt Wang is adding firewood to the hearth, and her mouth is chattering about her experiences over the years. "It's really like teaching apprentices is to starve masters to death. If I had known that the couple was such heartless people, I would never have passed on skills to them."
"Not everyone is so, isn’t there still a saying like this? ‘The master teaches well, and the apprentice will provide for the aged master.’ You taught me how to make tofu. You see, I come back to provide for you." Lin Dan laughs slightly.
Aunt Wang hurriedly waves her hand and says, "Don't say that. I have only taught you for three months, and you still worked so much for me every day. After all the work, I still take advantage of it. How can I make you help provide for me? My son Yao and I can get along; I don’t want to be a burden to you!" At some point, her eyes turn red. Her son in close paternal relations does not care about her, but the little girl who only learned a dish from her treats her like a relative. How could she be so pitiful?
Yao walks in with his eyes red and says hoarsely, "Sister Lin, thank you for your kindness. I recently become a long-term servant at the house of Landowner Zhou. I help feed draught animals every day. It's not hard to support my mother. You can rest assured."
Lin Dan motions with her hand and says, "I'm not talking about that kind of providing, you may have misunderstood. Aunt Wang, once you taught me a dish, now I'll teach you three dishes. Once you get started, you can attract more business and bring back the prosperous days before. What do you say?" As she speaks, she repeatedly filters the ground soybean milk with gauze and pours it into a large pot to boil.
The handsome man says nothing, but already takes the work of grinding soybean milk and stares at Lin Dan who is pouring out words.
Lin Dan dices coriander, shallot, pickled mustard tuber and other garnishes, stir-fries sesame seeds and peanuts with oil until they emit aroma, and then beats them in an earthen bowl, and puts them aside for later use, and she says slowly, "You only sell one dish all year round. Guests will not be fresh after eating for a long time, and business will naturally be cold and cheerless. Your skills of cooking tofu are very well, why don't you make more tofu dishes? The dish I am teaching you is a semi-finished product of tofu, which I learned from Fushun County. It is called tofu jelly, also known as tofu pudding. However, the taste is no worse than tofu, with salty and sweet flavors. Your shop is next to the state highway. Guests are from both the north and the south. When guests from the north come, you invite them to eat salty tofu jelly. When guests from the south come, you invite them to eat sweet tofu jelly. In spring, autumn and winter, you provide hot tofu jelly. In summer, you put tofu jelly in the well water to chill it and provide cold tofu jelly. Tofu jelly originally has no flavor. Sauces are used for seasoning. The sauces are also rich in variety. Salty sauces have hot and spicy, spicy, sour and spicy flavors and so on. Sweet sauces have sucrose, brown sugar, maltose flavors and so on. A bowl of tofu jelly with two spoons of sauce, this dish alone, you can make hundreds of flavors; easily meet the needs of any guest, isn’t it much better than simply selling tofu balls? Besides, tofu jelly is simple and easy to make. It takes less than three quarters of an hour to boil another big barrel after being sold out. Guests can eat the freshest food at any time. How can they not like it? "
When it comes to cooking, Lin Dan talks a lot. Before others know it, she has already made two bowls of tofu pudding, one with spicy flavor and one with medlar in brown sugar flavor. They are all red in color and they look delicious.
The handsome man quietly picks up the salty tofu pudding and takes a bite. The fresh and tender taste immediately conquers his taste buds. Strong bean aroma accompanied by spicy soup rolls in his mouth and slips into his throat. The taste is extremely wonderful. His eyes are brightened slightly, and he immediately takes a bite of the sweet tofu pudding. The sweet and tender tofu pudding slowly melts on the tip of his tongue, biting the medlar and tasting a little astringency. It is a stroke of god. The taste is so tender and smooth, and the taste is so changeable that he can’t stop when he spoons it.
Aunt Wang and her son who are not quite convinced take a bite and are immediately stunned.
After cooking tofu pudding, Lin Dan fries a dish called Zhenxiang Tofu, which is also served with sauces of two flavors, sweet and salty. If the guests are not satisfied, they can mix it by themselves. At last, she slightly improves Aunt Wang's specialty called soup tofu balls to make dry fried tofu dumplings, which are solid when they are put into the pot, but become hollow when they are taken out of the pot. She gently breaks the crisp shell of the shell with her hands, but a layer of fresh, sweet and thick soybean milk hung on the inner wall. It tastes crisp and tender with juice in the dry, and the taste is very wonderful. Then, stir-fried chili, minced garlic, and chopped wild onion are mixed into dips-in-water (a thick mixture into which pieces of food are dipped before being eaten) and then the dips are stuffed into the cavity of tofu dumplings to eat together. It is crisp outside and tender inside, fresh, aromatic, hot and spicy, and the taste is too good to be improved! If one can't eat spicy flavor, he or she can change the dips into bean paste stuffing or sesame seeds and peanut shreds, and the taste can also be called a wonder.
These three dishes are extremely flexible and changeable, so long as guests like them, they can be made into any taste. Once one learns how to cook, he or she will no longer worry about anything in his or her life. Aunt Wang and her son are not stupid. After tasting the dishes and listening to the explanation, they are both happy and ashamed. They don’t know whether they should accept the gift.
Lin Dan never has empty talk. After teaching the dishes, she also teaches some business tips, "You can provide hot tea free of charge for the coming and going guests in the three seasons of spring, autumn and winter. In summer, you can make some bean jelly and keep it cold at any time. Then you can hang a flag and write “Free Tea Supply”. Naturally, tired guests will stop for drinking. You can ask them if they want to eat, and the business will start naturally. After all, there are few people who can read. Your son can sit on the wayside and wait. When he sees caravans coming, he shall shout at the top of his voice to attract more guests. You’ve got cooking skills, so there is no need for you to afraid that guests will not be satisfied. If guests are satisfied, your reputation will be established and life will be more prosperous, wouldn't you say so? "
"Yes, yes, yes!" Aunt Wang and her son can't stop nodding and their eyes are drenched. They finally understand that Lin Dan really wants to help them, otherwise she wouldn't have said so much. Aunt Wang doesn't expect that there was only a small kindness in those days, but today this kindness has been paid so much, it is sure enough that there are more good people in this world.
She has been busy till night, Lin Dan walks on the state highway seeing overhead starlight, only feels broad and bright in her mind. She will take back what belongs to her, and she will also return what she owns to others. She must live magnanimously as long as she is alive.
The handsome man silently follows behind her, looking at her with his complicated gaze.
Three courses can’t be learned overnight. Lin Dan has no choice but to stay in the small town for a few more days and go to Aunt Wang's shop every day to help. The son of Aunt Wang cooks hot tea and sits on the side of the highway shouting, indeed attracts many caravans and passers-by. They have planned to take a free cup of tea and then walk away. However, they are caught by the strong aroma coming from the kitchen. They ask for several bowls of tofu pudding to taste. The taste is so great that they can't stop. One bowl is nothing. Even four or five bowls are not enough for those with big appetite, and the guests from the south and the north don't dislike it.
It is only three days since Aunt Wang's small shop is crowded with visitors. Three days later, Lin Dan leaves. Aunt Wang herself studies some new flavors and sells them. The response is also very good. Over time, the dilapidated straw hut becomes a solid mud house, and in a few years it is transformed into a row of wooden houses. Finally, it develops into a restaurant specializing in tofu pudding, which is famous far and near. However, Aunt Wang's daughter-in-law is forced to run out of business and comes back to kowtow to her and to admit her mistake. However, she is driven out and this turns into a joke in nearby villages and towns.
Lin Dan doesn’t know about these things. She takes her mother back to the capital and places her in a small courtyard that has been bought for a long time. She goes to the west district of the capital to check the place as her shop before she has time to stop and rest. She has been planning to open a shop in the capital for two years, which can be said to be "all is ready except for what is crucial".
The capital is known as "rich in the east and expensive in the west, poor in the north and cheap in the south". Most of the residents in the west district are dignitaries. The east district is mostly inhabited by rich people. The poor in the north district live together. The southern district is full of migrant refugees who live on coolie hire and are therefore humble.
Lin Putin is good at making Shandong Cuisine. Lin Dan has studied a lot over the years and naturally wants to continue making Shandong Cuisine when she comes back to open a shop. However, there is a saying in the culinary circle that Shandong Cuisine is official, Guangdong Cuisine is commercial, Sichuan Cuisine is civilian, and Huaiyang Cuisine is of man of letters. In order to serve official dishes, one must naturally set up shop in the west district, so as to take advantage of customer source.
Lin Dan has already sent several servants back to the capital to look for a place as her shop and she has waited for two or three months. Indeed as expected, when a grocery store in Qingyun Lane in the west district can’t be operated, it is ready for transfer. And the Yans’ Restaurant is opposite this grocery store.
Arguably, Lin Dan has arrived safely in the capital, the handsome man should leave, but he just doesn't go, also doesn't say why, and just silently follows Lin Dan behind, like a guardian. Sensing that he has no malice, Lin Dan doesn’t care about him and goes straight to discuss the price with the grocer.
The handsome man stands at the door waiting, looking at the opposite Yans’ Restaurant, with a subtle expression.
"Do you want to open a restaurant and make Shandong Cuisine?" The grocer's eyes turn and he says, "Shopkeeper Lin, I don't mean to embarrass you. It is a misfortune in my family that requires a large sum of silver. Although the price you have given is appropriate, it is not too high, and several groups of people have come to me in succession these days, giving a better price than yours. Those who can pay the highest price finally get it, this is the rule of business, and don't you understand? "
Lin Dan frowns and says, "Shopkeeper, it’s better to tell me what price you want. I'll see if it is suitable. If it is suitable, I'll take it. If it is not suitable, I'll forget it."
The grocer quotes a price that Lin Dan can’t afford. She thinks a while and says decisively, "Shopkeeper, wait for me one day, I'll bring the silver tomorrow, and please have the transfer documents ready."
After settling the matter, she asks her servants to go back and pick up goods, while she strolls around Qingyun Lane to check the situation.
"These are 360 taels of silver. This price is enough to buy two shops like that. You get the worse part of the bargain." The handsome man follows her with a heavy voice.
"You don't understand I want that shop." Lin Dan says in a firm tone motioning with her hand.
The handsome man turns around and looks at the Yans’ Restaurant, which is prosperous and full of customers. Then he looks at the grocery store across the street. He can’t help sighing in his mind, “Is Lin Dan preparing to challenge the Yans’ Restaurant?”