Accompany by A Fool to do Farming
chapter 7: 聚餐 (Dinner)
Closing the door, Zhao Ning headed inside the house.
“Xiao Ning, who was that just now?” Zhao Amu (Mother Zhao) asked without raising his head as he sat in the house sewing.
“It’s Ziqi. He bought meat and asked me and my brother to go to his house for dinner.” Zhao Ning sat down beside Amu.
“Didn’t you say he didn’t get much money when they split the family? Why doesn’t he save some?” Zhao Amu frowned disapprovingly.
“That’s what I said too but Ziqi said he already had a plan in mind. I feel that Ziqi and I seem to have grown apart and are not as forthcoming as before.”
Zhao Ning said with some complaint, the two of them used to be the best of friends, sharing difficulties and good things together.
Zhao Amu listened to Zhao Ning’s words and said appreciatively, “Ziqi is a good child, he has been through so much and has grown up to understand things.
You still think he was a child before he got married? He’s not alone now, he has a family to take care of, he needs to have a plan.
He can’t behave like a child! ”
“Why not? We’re very close.” said Zhao Ning who is unwilling to accept.
Zhao Amu shook his head, this ger of his was really not easy, if he married someone else, he would not know what he would be like, it seemed he had to teach him a lesson.
When Zhong Ziqi returned home, he leaned over the door and listened, it was very quiet, he reached out and knocked on the door, “Zheng’an, I’m home, open the door!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the door was immediately opened and Zhao Zheng’an, whose eyes were red with surprise and happy jumped over and hugged Zhong Ziqi, chanting, ” Wife, wife!”
Zhong Ziqi, feeling distressed for him, patted him on the head, guessing that this guy must have been sitting behind the door since he left: “Look, I’m back! I won’t leave you alone and do not care about you. ”
Zhao Zheng’an nodded happily, his hand grabbing Zhong Ziqi’s arm as he walked into the house.
“I’m going to cook, if someone knocks on the door later you can answer it, if you’re bored, go on pulling weeds or come to the kitchen, help me light a fire (for cooking) , can you light the fire?”
“Yes, I could, I always help Amu to cook.”
Zhao Zheng’an patted his chest as he said proudly, he didn’t want to leave his wife even for a second, so of course he chose the latter, taking a small stool then sitting at the kitchen stove, waiting for his instructions, his eyes moving along with Zhong Ziqi movement.
Zhong Ziqi blandly followed his look, first washed the rice bought today mixed with half of the brown rice into the pot. These rural areas generally have two large pots and pans, so cooking is very convenient.
He said that Zhao Zheng’an could start the fire, Zhong Ziqi then cut the pork he bought today into pieces as he washed the pork liver and ribs, putting it aside to marinate. He saves the rest of the fatty meat for the oil, some of the pork offal and bones, which also he saves for later to eat.
Heat the oil in a pan, stir fry the garlic, add the ginger and spring onions, then add the pork ribs and stir-fry until white. Pour in the water and simmer until cooked. Add salt and a little sugar before serving.Stir-fry the rice until well blended,after that serve it. Looking at Zhao Zheng’an, who had been stirring the fire, Zhong Ziqi took a pair of chopsticks to put two pieces of pork ribs in a bowl and handed them to him.
“Taste it, is it good?”
Zhao Zheng’an couldn’t wait to take the food, he hadn’t eaten meat for a long time because his Amu would always scold him, therefore if they had meat, they wouldn’t give it to him, Zhao Zheng’an took a bite of the ribs, not afraid of it being too hot and immediately looked at his wife with glowing eyes: “Yummy, my wife’s cooking is the best.”
Zhong Ziqi also laughed, he was only enthusiastic about cooking when he had someone to cook for. The second dish was spicy sliced pork, using that piece of pork belly. The main taste is spicy, after frying it up, he gave a few pieces to Zhao Zheng’an.He could smell that the chilli was very spicy while he crouched down in front of Zhao Zheng’an, watched him take the meat into his mouth, chew it twice, after that immediately his eyes turned red and he sucked in his breath.With his bad intentions satisfied, he got up, went to the water jar to scoop up a bowl of water and handed it to him. “Spicy, isn’t it? Quickly drink some water!”
Zhao Zheng’an hurriedly picked up the bowl and drank it down in one go. Zhong Ziqi reached out to take away the slices of spicy meat, but to his surprise, he met with strong resistance from Zhao Zheng’an.
“This is too spicy, you can’t eat it.”
“I can eat it, it’s delicious, don’t take it away!”
Zhong Ziqi scratched his head as he looked at him, “Then tell me if you feel sick, if it’s too spicy and your stomach is uncomfortable,we’ll have to go see a doctor.”
Zhao Zheng’an nodded his head immediately, his hand still holding the bowl tightly for fear of being snatched away.
At this time the door rang, Zhong Ziqi told Zhao Zheng’an to continue eating, he went to open the door, after he opened the door, as expected it was Zhao Ning and Zhao Sheng, “You are here, come in! The meals will be ready soon.”
Zhao Ning sniffed, his eyes glowing as he looked into the kitchen, “It smells so good, did you make this, Ziqi?”
Zhao Sheng also couldn’t help but gulp at the aroma, actually he didn’t want to come, after all, it was a newly married ger bringing a fool. It wasn’t good for him to go, but Amu said it was okay for him to go with Ah Ning. Ah Ning was a ger so he didn’t need to be afraid, that’s why he came along.
Zhong Ziqi smiled with arched eyebrows, “Of course I did, who else could it be?”
“Wow! I didn’t know that you were good at this.”
“There’s more that you don’t know, go inside ba! It’ll be ready soon, I’ll ask Zheng An to accompany you.”
Zhao Ning waved his hand, “I’ll go and help you, by the way,I need to learn too.Let Zhao Zheng’an talk to my brother! ”
So Zhao Zheng’an was driven out of the kitchen and went to talk with Zhao Sheng, obeying his wife’s words but before he left, he gave a particularly resigned and unwilling look at the uneaten meat in his bowl.
The last dish was cucumber with fried pork liver, Zhao Ning helped him with the fire, Zhong Ziqi was in charge of stir-frying the food. Zhao Ning smelled the aroma then his stomach rumbled, “Ziqi, are you …… really going to continue living with Zhao Zhengan?”
The hand of Zhong Ziqi stir-fried the vegetables, paused for a moment but his face remained unchanged as he said, “I’ve already married him, so if I don’t live with him then who will I live with?” Even for those closest to him, there were certain things he could not say, not to mention that he was not familiar with Zhao Ning’s personality so he couldn’t just say it out casually, especially something unbelievable, lest word would get out.
Zhao Ning said anxiously, “But he’s a fool, he can’t work,are you planning to depend on the three acres of land for living? It’s not like you are able to get a lot of grain.”
“Actually, life is very good now!
I don’t have to live in the Zhong family, being ostracised & being treated badly by my eldest uncle and his family. Also since I’ve been separated from the Zhao family, the Zhao family can’t come looking for trouble so this is the only good life I’ve had since my parents died ba! I’ll find a way to make money too! You also know, with my background, it’s difficult for me to find a good family.” Zhong Ziqi’s words were somewhat serious, but not at all hadn’t happened yet.
Of course, Zhao Ning knew that a fatherless and motherless ger whom his relatives disliked, it would be fine if he married into a good family but if you married into a family like the Zhao family, your mother-in-law would look down on you, you have to work hard like a horse and a bull, you even might not have enough to eat, because they knew that even if you were wronged, you couldn’t run away and had nowhere to go.
In fact, there is a living example in the village, also someone with surname Zhao, there is a ger, his Amu died early,thus his father married a stepmother who treated him as badly as possible.When the ger married off, he was not even given a dowry, so he suffered a lot in his mother in law’s house.Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore, they had a big fight, then he was repudiated by his in-laws.As a ger who had divorced, he was looked down by many people with disdain and also criticised behind his back. Even though everyone knew that it was probably not the ger’s fault, being divorced is still unacceptable by the world.
A man from a good family would not marry a divorced ger. This ger’s family was ashamed of him therefore they did not allow him to enter the house. They said that the person who had married would be the same as the water that had spilled so the family had nothing to do with him.
But after all, he was a member of the Zhao family.Most of them are still relatives so the village chief could not turn a blind eye to this homeless and lonely ger and finally lent him money to build a hut in the village.The ger settled down there, usually living by himself, earning some money by embroidering and weaving frames at home, turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the foul language outside.
Zhao Ning knew it was too late to say anything, but he was just upset with his best friend’s injustice condition.
Zhong Ziqi served the food and shook his head knowing that he was also doing it for his own good, “Don’t worry about it! Life is like ‘ the person who drinks it knows best whether the water is hot or cold’. You think I’m not doing well, but I think I’m doing just fine now. I can eat whatever I want, do whatever I want, I’m the master of my own home.”
[如人飲水，冷暖自知: the person who drinks it knows best whether the water is hot or cold (Zen proverb); self-awareness comes from within / to know best by personal experience]
“Pfft.” Zhao Ning’s little worries were washed away by Zhong Ziqi’s strange argument, but he had to admit that he had a point, no wonder Amu kept telling him to learn from Ziqi. It was his tranquil and calm mentality that he couldn’t match.
The evening started with a delicious dinner.Zhong Ziqi himself didn’t eat much, he had a small appetite.He had eaten his own food for so many years that he didn’t feel anything special.But the other three didn’t think so. At first, Zhao Ning wanted to criticise Ziqi for putting so much oil in his cooking since it was a waste, but he couldn’t open his mouth at the moment. Especially after eating the spicy meat slices that made the three of them breathe in and out, but still, they didn’t dare to stop their chopsticks for fear of being robbed. Zhao Zheng’an, despite being a fool, is not a laggard when it comes to grabbing things. This is his home and his wife’s cooking so it’s more logical for him to take more.
Zhao Sheng was shy at first, but soon abandoned this unnecessary emotion and joined the silent battle. Zhong Ziqi, who had eaten more at lunch, was still not too hungry and ate slowly, but he was quite content to see the three eating well, which is a common problem for chefs who want their dishes to be recognised by everyone.
Soon, however, Zhong Ziqi had to take a big bite out of his food.The reason was that Zhao Zheng’an, who was sitting next to him,while eating, also didn’t forget to put a chopstick of food into his bowl. Zhong Ziqi looked at the dishes that were so full that his heart was warmed, so he held down Zhao Zheng’an’s hand, which was still trying to add to his bowl, “It’s okay, you can eat it yourself! That’s enough!”
Only then did Zhao Zheng’an give up and concentrate on his own meal.
Zhao Ning was a little surprised to see this scene, “Ziqi, this Zhao Zheng’an, treat you very well ah! I thought that being a fool, he didn’t even know anything.” Zhao Ning had been reminded by Ziqi not to call him a fool therein he could only twist and turn, thus calling him by his first name.
Zhao Zheng’an heard him mention his name and patted his chest very proudly, “My wife!” Not sure if he really understood what he had heard or not.
Two spurts of laughter rang out at the same time.
Zhong Ziqi looked helplessly at the two who were covering their mouths and laughing.In fact, he didn’t blame them, but Zhao Zheng’an’s appearance at this moment was really a bit funny, he was eating like a little cat, his face was covered in grease, he also had a bone in his mouth.When he spoke, it was moved to his right cheek and puffed out in a way that made people want to poke it, but he had to act like he was proud of it, making people laugh.
After eating, the four of them sat lazily on the chairs, with their stomachs up. Zhao Ning burped and said contentedly, “Ziqi, when did you get so good at cooking? I didn’t even know.”
Zhong Ziqi’s face straightened, then he said with a hint of sadness in his eyes, “My mother taught me when I was young, but I just haven’t been able to show it off, so it’s no wonder you don’t know.”