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AFDF Chapter 71

Take a break

Accompany by a Fool to Do Farming

Chapter 71: 休工

{Take a break}


In the days after that, it was just like what Zhao Xue Mei and the others had said. Zhong Ziqi was only getting started yet Zhao Zheng’an’s hair was turning white in the past few days. Zhong Ziqi could no longer go into the kitchen to prepare for the meal and cook now because he would vomit at the smell of the lampblack.

 

There were only two of them in the house and Zhong Ziqi was already gone on strike. Zhao Zheng’an was the only one who had no choice but to go wash his hand and make soup but he had never cooked anything other than porridge therefore the food he made was super unpalatable.

 

Zhao Zheng’an’s heart was in agony. Every day he could only give Zhong Ziqi white porridge. Besides that, he could only go into the town to ask Zhao Xue Mei and the others to help him make some delicious food. But even the distant water could not quench his thirst, so Zhao Zheng’an could only summon up his courage to practice his cooking skills at home for two days.

 

Zhong Ziqi would sit at the kitchen door wrapped in a thick layer and tell him which one to put first, which one to put second, how much salt to use and how much water to put.

 

After repeated attempts at either salty or bland, Zhao Zheng’an finally graduated. The basis of his mastery was that he could complete a dish on his own, without putting in the wrong seasoning. Although the taste was just so-so, Zhao Zheng’an was quite satisfied.

 

After passing his attentive consideration, he has mastered the basic order of seasoning in cooking. As long as he didn’t put too much in, the taste was still okay, and it was always palatable.

 

Every time Zhong Ziqi looked at his exhausted appearance, he would feel particularly touched.At the same time, he would always resist the nausea and take two more bites, not to waste his kind feelings, but in the end, he would still throw up.

 

Zhao Zheng’an was incessantly distressed ‘to have his hands bound and unable to do anything’ (helpless) about Zhong Ziqi’s sickly little face. Since he knew that he loved sour food, he made sour food for him. The pickled vegetables at home that were made during the autumn were already edible, he then made it again for him in different ways, but of course he would prepare for it before doing so….

 

As the time passed day after day, even before Zhao Zheng’an and Zhong Ziqi came back, they had already discussed this matter with Zhao Amu and the others. They put up a notice outside the door. It said that they would be closing for the New Year on a certain day.

 

For people who liked to eat the fried dough twist and the deep fried breadsticks, they could buy more, since it wouldn’t go bad, to save them from when the time came and not being able to buy it even if they wanted to eat it.

 

When the other people heard about this, they immediately one after another loosen up their purse especially when they heard that approaching the Chinese New Year, there were discounts on the ‘Quite Delicious’s you tiou and mahua. If you buy as many as you like, you could get one or two more for free. Many people then came over to buy it.

 

So near the Chinese New Year, the customer traffic of ‘Quite Delicious’ and the courtyard were a little higher than usual even without having an appointment. Everyone bought a dozen or several dozen of it for the New Year. Everyone wanted to indulge in a good year, even if the family was poor, they didn’t want to make the Chinese New Year cold and cheerless which would bring a bad omen so the more lively it was, the more prosperous it would be in the coming year.

 

It was not until three days before the Chinese New Year that ‘Quite Delicious’ officially closed. The workshop in the courtyard was also closed. Zhao Zheng’an went into the town to settle the wages of Zhao Xue Mei, Liu Mei Feng, Qian Ling, Zhao Jiang and Zhao Lan. Zhao Xue Mei and the other two were happy to have nearly 300 wen of salary in their hands. Zhao Xue Mei was especially happy that both he and Zhao Jiang had been paid for their work, although Zhao Jiang’s pay was only half of his, there was enough for them to buy New Year’s goods and still have some money left.

 

If talking about being happy then Zhao Lan was also one of them. He was the only one in his family, so for Chinese New Year, beside the simple necessities, he actually didn’t need much of it at all. He could save it up and use it for a long time.It was the first time he had ever been so grateful to someone. Everyone said he had a high self-esteem but he had to bend his waist (literally mean bow, but it could also mean work hard) to make a living, too. He just hated those people that put on an act in doing charity. He needed a person that could let him put in all of his effort which was equal in exchange to the reward. And Zhong Ziqi just gave him exactly what he had wanted so he was very grateful to him.

 

The restaurants that came to pick up the goods already received the notification because they had been informed in advance. The day before, those restaurants already took away a large batch of you tiou and mahua so today they officially began the holiday.

 

Zhao Zheng’an watched Zhao Xue Mei and the others leave in twos and threes, leaving Wang Jicheng all alone, looking so pitiful. Zhao Zheng’an thought about it and said, “Uncle Cheng, you come home with me for the New Year ba!”

 

“Young master, you absolutely mustn’t. I’m fine being here, it’s not appropriate for me to be there when you and Young Master Qi are having your first New Year together.” Wang Jicheng hurriedly said. He also heard that this year was the first New Year since the two young masters got married. No matter what he said, he must not go to disturb the two people’s world. Besides, it was not that he had never spent the New Year alone, so he would not feel that bad at all.

 

Zhao Zheng’an wanted to say that it was fine at first, but suddenly he thought that it was inconvenient to have people living in their house right now, so he could only nod and agree: “That’s fine, Uncle Cheng, you’ll suffered a bit for this year that you have to spend the new year alone. Wait for next year, when a new house is built, you can come and spend it with us.”

 

Wang Jicheng was moved and immediately bowed, “Thank you, young master.”

 

He had, in fact, met with good people. He was not treated like a slave. Instead, he was treated like a family member and they never looked down on him. He, Wang Jicheng, was really not good enough (何德何能: in other ways he wanted to say he was lucky, but also not qualified/deserved to be) in meeting such a good master.

 

Zhao Zheng’an gave Wang JiCheng half a Guan of money and told him to buy whatever he wanted. He then walked away as Wang JiCheng looked at him gratefully.

 

Zhao Zheng’an left the compound and didn’t go straight home, but went shopping for the Chinese New Year’s merchandise. His family had bought some continuously in these past two days, and he would buy all the rest today. As it happens, Second Uncle Zhao was also in the town so he would go back with him and get a lift.

 

Zhao Zheng’an and Zhong Ziqi were considered famous in Qing Shui Town. There were very few people who didn’t know them. Before the Chinese new year, at this moment the prices were comparatively high so when Zhao Zheng’ an went to buy the merchandise sold for Chinese New Year, the bosses would look at him and offer him a lower price. It couldn’t be helped since they were also the regular customers of ‘Quite Delicious’. It was a good idea to keep the relationship with them.

 

Zhao Zheng’an first went to the seafood vendor and bought several fish and many other products.On the way, he also bought some rhyming couplet (pair of lines of verse written vertically down the sides of a doorway), many kinds of pastries, joss sticks and candle, paper money (ritual money made of paper burnt for the Gods or the dead) and other things.Then he went to the shop that sold fruit.

 

This shop was considered to be a strange one in Qing Shui Town, it was classified as a high class place that sold all kinds of fruits. The amazing thing was that there were many fruits that were rarely seen in the north.Naturally, the prices were unaffordable for ordinary people, but the owner of the shop catered for wealthy families, such as the County Grand Master, such and such official, a certain landlords, some shop owners, and so on. These kinds of people who did not care about such small amounts of money.

 

Zhao Zheng’an also heard from others that the owner of the shop had set up a team to go to the south to buy the fruits in order to maintain the supply and sales, and then transport it back intact using various unknown methods.

 

When Zhao Zheng’an entered the shop, there was no one else inside, only baskets of fruit of different colours and sizes on display, which looked very unfrequented.

 

The shop owner, who was doing the accounting, obviously knew who Zhao Zheng’an was. He came out from behind the counter with a smile and an arching hand: “Oh it’s Boss Zhao! What a rare guest! I wonder what you want to buy?” Although Zhao Zheng’an was young, no one would take him lightly, especially with the Jin Hua Restaurant backing him up.

 

Zhao Zheng’an cup his hands in greeting to return the greeting and asked, “I’m naturally here to buy fruit today, who doesn’t know that your shop’s fruit is the freshest and the most delicious one.”

 

The shop owner nodded his head in appreciation of his words. He was very content with this, for if he looked at the nearby towns, his shop was the only one with the best selection of fruit. Not only the people from Qing Shui Town, but also the big families from the other towns would come to buy from him.

 

Zhao Zheng’an looked around the shop and was dazzled by the variety of fruits, not knowing which ones were tasty. He simply picked a few fruits that he usually saw, and then asked the shop owner as if he remembered something: “Do you have any fruit here that tastes particularly sour?”

 

After hearing what he said, the shop owner touched his own palm and smiled, “Coincidentally, a fruit that came in not long ago tastes particularly sour. I was worried that I couldn’t sell it. Take a look at it! It’s the little red fruit next to your hand.”

 

The shop owner reached out his hand and pointed next to Zhao Zheng’an.

 

Zhao Zheng’an followed his direction and looked at the small red fruit, which was not as big as a walnut. He looked at it carefully and thought it looked quite similar to the wild fruits in the mountains.He picked one up and took a bite. His eyes which had been open, immediately narrowed into slits and his face scrunched up into a frown ….This is too sour, more sour than their family’s vinegar.

 

Zhao Zheng’an’s teeth shivered with the acidity and hurriedly put down the fruit in his hand, “Just this one ba! Weigh it a few more pounds for me.” Although the sourness was frightening, he was sure Ziqi would like to eat it.

 

As expected, when Zhao Zheng’an handed this fruit to his present, Zhong Ziqi’s eyes brightened.

 

Zhong Ziqi’s eyes bright and full of expression at the fruit handed over by Zhao Zheng’an, listening to Zhao Zheng’an say how sour it was, he took the fruit into his hands and looked at it carefully. Initially he thought it was sour hawthorn, but on closer inspection it was not sour hawthorn, his surface was much smoother than sour hawthorn. Zhong Ziqi took a bite carefully, there was more water inside than sour hawthorn too. Moreover it was really sour, he told him that he liked it very much.

 

Zhao Zheng’an was happy to see that he liked it, “I ordered some dishes from the restaurant. I came back a bit late today. Let me warm it up for you.”

 

“Don’t waste it, I’ve already heated up some congee and eaten a little.” Zhong Ziqi said as he ate.

 

Zhao Zheng’an’s teeth unconsciously sour for a moment, “I’ll heat it up and you can eat some more. There’s sour bamboo shoots in it and sweet and sour fish. You try it, all are sour.”

 

Zhong Ziqi nodded with some hesitation, “Okay! I’ll Just eat some more then.” On behalf that he had worked so hard to bring it back.

 

“Good.”

 

Zhao Zheng’an put the things he brought back in order and went to the kitchen to heat up the rice.

 

Although the food was sour, Zhong Ziqi could barely eat a few more bites before he couldn’t eat any more. Zhao Zheng’an was used to it.He followed suit and ate some before removing it.

 

“The salaries have all been paid?” Zhong Ziqi asked.

 

“Hn, they’ve all been paid according to what you have said. The shops are scheduled to open on the eighth day of the month. At first, I wanted Uncle Cheng to come and spend the New Year with us. He’s quite lonely on his own, but there’s no room for him at our house. Moreover he can’t share a room with us,so I thought it would be better not.” Zhao Zheng’an said.

 

Zhong Ziqi nodded : “Let’s talk about it next year! Didn’t you say you were going to renovate the house at the beginning of spring? Let’s build a few more rooms. So when people come, in the future they can also stay for the night.”

 

“Hn, I think so too.”

 

When the time comes, the Shen family will be coming too.Their house, this small place would not be able to accommodate them, so they would have to expand it.


 

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Comment

  1. Avatar Lily C says:

    Thanks for the update😙😙😙

    1. LittleYen LittleYen says:

      ❤❤❤

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