The Dread of Abrupt Silence in the Air
“It’s Big Brother!” Upon hearing the voice, Cai Yunwei’s eyes lit up, and he immediately stood up from his chair and exclaimed with joy, “Big Brother!”
Everyone turned to the door, where a handsome and refined young man of eighteen or nineteen walked in, followed by another gentle-looking young man.
The young man in front was the eldest son of the magistrate, the eldest young master Cai Chenxi.
Cai Chenxi saw Cai Yunwei approaching and ruffled his younger brother’s hair, happily saying, “Yunwei!”
He then carefully examined his brother’s complexion and remarked, “Hmm, you’re looking much healthier.”
Cai Yunwei was still a young lad, and he was delighted to see his older brother after a long time. He said, “Recently, Uncle Fu learned many new dishes from Brother Yu, and I’ve been eating a lot.” Shouldn’t that be praised?
Cai Chenxi nodded with a smile, feeling relieved. He said, “That’s good. Eat more and take care of your health. In the future, big brother will take you out to play!”
Cai Yunwei vigorously nodded and said, “Yes!” He was very happy.
Then, he called out to the refined young man behind him, “Brother Tianrui.”
The refined young man was Jiang Tianrui, Cai Chenxi’s childhood playmate and close friend.
The two brothers chatted briefly, and Cai Chenxi looked inside the house. Upon seeing the guests, he smiled and said, “Grandfather, uncle, we have guests at home. We came back at just the right time.”
Jiang Tianrui also greeted “Grandfather Cai” and “Uncle.”
Old Master Cai and Madam Cai had wide smiles on their faces upon seeing their beloved eldest grandson.
Old Master Cai pulled his precious eldest grandson over and said, “Xi’er is back, and Tianrui, come and sit. It’s just in time for the meal. You’re lucky to have returned a bit later; otherwise, you would have missed these delicious dishes.”
*(T/N: Calling someone’s name by adding “er” at the end is also like calling Aze, a term of endearment).
After the two of them washed their hands and took their seats, Old Master Cai introduced them, saying, “Xi’er, Tianrui, this is Yu Qingze, the one who provided the new recipes for Yunwei. You can call him Big Brother Yu. Xiao Yu, this is my eldest grandson, Cai Chenxi, and this is his childhood friend and classmate, Jiang Tianrui.”
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Both of them clasped their hands and greeted Yu Qingze. Cai Chenxi expressed his gratitude, saying, “Thank you so much, Big Brother Yu. Yunwei has been suffering from poor health since childhood, and now he finally sees hope for healing.”
Yu Qingze humbly replied, “I happen to know a bit about food. Young Master Cai is fortunate and will surely regain his health.”
Afterwards, Old Master Cai introduced Chang Le’s family to the two of them, and they exchanged greetings.
Finally, it was time to eat!
Old Master Cai announced the start of the meal and said to Cai Chenxi and Jiang Tianrui, “Consider yourselves lucky. This table today is all prepared by your Big Brother Yu himself. It’s our first time trying it too. Everyone, start eating.”
They all began to eat.
It was the first time the Cai family had tasted the dishes made by Yu Qingze. After taking the first bite, both Old Master Cai and his wife, as well as Cai Yunwei, believed what Mi Ge’er said. The food was indeed much more delicious than what Uncle Fu made.
Old Master Cai, the patriarch, enjoyed spicy and flavorful dishes. As he ate the spicy shredded chicken and braised eel, he nodded in approval and occasionally clinked glasses with Grandpa Chang, enjoying a sip of wine. He was thoroughly content.
On the other hand, Old Master Cai, the old man, loved eggplant. He had almost finished half of the fish-flavored eggplant casserole and had a wide smile on his face.
Cai Yunwei had a small appetite, but he still managed to have two small bowls of seafood porridge and ate a good amount of dishes. Old Master Cai and Cai Chenxi were pleased to see that.
As for Cai Chenxi and Jiang Tianrui, although they were scholars, they were also young men with hearty appetites. They couldn’t stop themselves from indulging in the delicious dishes.
Everyone praised the food with full mouths, and the atmosphere at the dining table was joyful.
Initially, Chang Le and his family were somewhat reserved, thinking that affluent households adhered to the principle of “eating in silence.” However, it seemed that the Cai family didn’t have so many rules during meals. Apart from using public chopsticks, they also engaged in occasional conversations. When they tasted something delicious, they couldn’t help but express their admiration.
Observing their behavior, Chang Le’s family gradually relaxed and started to enjoy the delicacies.
Chang Hao would occasionally recommend dishes to Cai Yunwei, who sat next to him, saying, “This one is delicious, little brother, try it,” or “That one is also tasty, little brother, give it a try.”
Through the bond formed by crafting grasshoppers, the two young boys established a budding friendship. Chang Hao found everything delicious and didn’t forget to share with his little companion. However, he genuinely thought that every dish on the table was excellent.
Unconsciously, Cai Yunwei ended up being persuaded to eat quite a lot.
The satisfying meal came to an end, leaving everyone feeling full yet still wanting more.
After clearing the dining table, they moved to the main hall to have tea.
“After living for so many years, I finally know how to write the word ‘delicious’!” Old Master Cai exclaimed as he took a sip of hot tea, filled with admiration.
Madam Cai gave him a stern look and said, “It’s a blessing to be able to enjoy such food. You should be content.”
Old Master Cai hastily agreed, saying, “Yes, yes, you’re right, my wife.”
Yu Qingze glanced at the two elderly gentlemen and then glanced at Jiang Tianrui across from him. He had a thought and smiled, saying, “Actually, when it comes to food, there can be various combinations and many ways of eating. Take noodles, for example. It’s not just what we see here. As long as we use our imagination, we can create different preparations and make more delicious dishes. There’s nothing we can’t achieve if we can think of it.”
“Exactly, we’ve witnessed it today,” Old Master Cai agreed wholeheartedly, saying, “Speaking of noodles, oh, Tianrui, isn’t your in-law’s family running a noodle restaurant?”
Jiang Tianrui nodded and said, “Yes, my father-in-law runs a noodle restaurant on Beida Street.”
The members of the Chang Le family exchanged glances silently, but they began to discreetly observe Jiang Tianrui.
Curious, Yu Qingze asked, “Oh? Our snack stall is also on Beida Street. I wonder which noodle restaurant your brother-in-law’s family owns?”
Jiang Tianrui replied, “It’s Liu’s Noodle House.”
Yu Qingze slapped his thigh suddenly and exclaimed, “Oh… So it’s Liu’s Noodle House! It’s just across from us. It’s a large noodle restaurant, and I’ve heard that their food is excellent. Customers have been praising it.”
Upon witnessing Yu Qingze’s thigh-slapping reaction, Chang Hao desperately bit his lip, afraid of bursting into laughter. He muttered to himself, “Brother Yu, your reaction is too exaggerated! Are you trying to make me laugh to death?”
Concerned, Cai Yunwei saw the imprint on Chang Hao’s lips and asked, “What’s wrong, Xiao Hao? Are you feeling unwell?”
Chang Hao struggled to hold back his laughter, shaking his head and saying, “I’m still savoring the taste of the dishes from lunch. They were just too delicious.”
Cai Yunwei: …
On the other side, upon hearing Yu Qingze’s words, Jiang Tianrui said, “Business used to be decent, but I heard that there are new types of food called liangpi, cold noodles, and jelly that recently emerged on Beida Street, and it’s been attracting a lot of customers away.”
Uh, this is awkward…
Old Master Cai and his wife, as well as Cai Yunwei, were aware of the situation. Upon hearing this, they didn’t know how to respond.
And as for Cai Chenxi, he had known about this from the letter his younger brother wrote, but he hadn’t found the opportunity to tell Jiang Tianrui about it. It was awkward to say that their benefactor had taken away his good friend’s father-in-law’s customers. Now, he could only touch his nose and remain silent.
The air suddenly became quiet.
Jiang Tianrui noticed that no one was speaking and frowned, asking, “What’s wrong?”
Yu Qingze cleared his throat lightly and said, “Um… Well, the snack stall selling cold noodles and liangpi is mine.”
Jiang Tianrui: …
After a while, Jiang Tianrui finally spoke, saying, “So it was Brother Yu who owns it. It’s not surprising that customers go to your stall. My father-in-law and two uncles-in-law have been studying how to make liangpi and greatly admire Brother Yu’s skills and daring ideas.”
Yu Qingze forced a wry smile and said, “Hehe, is that so? It’s just a small snack. In fact, noodles can be prepared and enjoyed in many different ways. I heard that your father-in-law has been making noodles for decades, so he must have a lot of experience. I’ve always wanted to learn from him.”
After thinking for a moment, Jiang Tianrui said, “My father-in-law always values craftsmanship. He admires people who have skills and real abilities. If he knew about Brother Yu’s idea, he would definitely be delighted.”
Upon hearing this, Old Master Cai said, “Tianrui, why don’t you help bridge the gap between them, introduce them to each other, and let them exchange ideas? In the future, the people of Tongshan City will be able to enjoy even more delicious noodles. What do you think, Brother Yu?”
Yu Qingze smiled and said, “I’ve been thinking about it too.”
Jiang Tianrui nodded and said, “Sure, after I finish my errands in the afternoon, I’ll talk to my father-in-law.”
Yu Qingze felt slightly relieved upon hearing Jiang Tianrui’s description of his father-in-law. People who value their own craftsmanship often have their own charm and are easier to get along with than those who solely focus on playing dirty tricks on their opponents.
Yu Qingze expressed his gratitude, saying, “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, Brother Yu.”
Old Master Cai added, “By the way, what are you all here for this time? Isn’t the township exam approaching?”
Cai Chenxi replied, “Our teacher, Master Yuan, who taught us when we were young, passed away. We specifically came back to offer our condolences.”
Old Master Cai sighed and said, “Have the steward prepare, and you should go soon.”
Cai Chenxi nodded and left with Jiang Tianrui.
It was the middle of the day, and the sun was scorching. Yu Qingze and the others didn’t immediately go back. The Cai residence arranged a place for them to rest during lunchtime.
After their nap, Yu Qingze went to the kitchen and had a long conversation with Uncle Fu and the others. Chang Le followed along to learn as well. They bid farewell and returned home in the late afternoon when the sun wasn’t as intense.
On the way, Yu Qingze said to Grandpa Chang, “Grandpa, I want to find an assistant.”
Without hesitation, Grandpa Chang nodded and said, “Go ahead, it’ll make things easier for you.”
Yu Qingze asked, “Are there any good candidates in the village? It would be best if they were hardworking, discreet, and quick-witted enough to handle customers.”
Grandpa Chang pondered for a moment and asked, “Do you want to find someone from the village?”
Yu Qingze nodded and said, “We know the people in the village well. I’m looking for someone reliable, someone who won’t leak our secret recipe and details. They just need to accompany us to and from the stall every day and handle customer interactions when we’re busy. We’ll still make the liangpi and cold noodles ourselves.”
“I see,” Grandpa Chang thought for a moment and asked, “Do you prefer a man or a ger?”
“Preferably a ger who has a friendly smile,” Yu Qingze thought to himself. A waiter with a beaming smile and eight teeth showing would be perfect. Suddenly, he remembered something and asked, “How does the village view gers going out to work?”
Grandpa Chang said, “Some do it, but not many. It’s fine. Poor families are happy if they can earn money. I think Brother Chang from next door is suitable. He’s lively, sensible, won’t gossip, and gets along well with Xiao Le.”
Yu Qingze considered it. This Brother Chang had come to see Chang Le a few times before, and he had seen him a couple of times as well, but he didn’t remember exactly what he looked like. “Grandpa, what are Brother Chang’s parents like?”
Grandpa Chang replied, “They are honest people, trustworthy.”
“Has Brother Chang gotten married?”
“Not yet. The matchmaker has introduced several potential matches, but he hasn’t agreed to any of them. He’s a boy with his own ideas. He wants to marry someone he finds pleasing and likes. Otherwise, he won’t marry. His parents can’t do anything about it and can only let him be.”
Yu Qingze smiled and said, “That’s good. Marriage is a lifelong matter, and it should be that way. You can’t settle.”
“Ah, it’s not easy to find a suitable match.”
Yu Qingze didn’t respond to that and asked, “Grandpa, can you ask him tonight? And you need to get his father’s and mother’s consent as well.”
“Sure, I’ll go ask when we get back,” Grandpa Chang agreed without hesitation.
“If they all agree, please invite him to our house tonight. I want to meet him.”
Thingyan: long chapter, so I split it in half 🤓