Guandong Zhu and Gers’ Festival
As expected, the next morning when they opened their stall, Boss Liu came over happily holding a plate covered with a lid to find Yu Qingze.
Yu Qingze raised an eyebrow and said, “Boss Liu, did you make it?”
Boss Liu nodded and said, “Take a look.”
Yu Qingze uncovered the lid, revealing a neatly arranged plate of Liangpi. It seemed to have just been made and was still steaming hot.
Yu Qingze sighed and said, “I knew nothing could stump you, Boss Liu.”
Boss Liu successfully made Liangpi, feeling happy in his heart. He maintained a serious expression on his face and humbly said, “It just suddenly came to me. I didn’t expect it to be made this way.”
“Well, your noodle shop can introduce another food item. That’s great.” The corners of your mouth revealed the excitement in your emotions. You’re pretending!
Boss Liu shook his head and said, “I won’t make Liangpi.”
Yu Qingze raised an eyebrow.
Boss Liu continued, “I just wanted to know how it’s made, not to compete with your business. Besides, you’ve also taught us many methods for stir-frying noodles and mixing noodles.”
Yu Qingze smiled and said, “Well, thank you, Boss Liu.”
Boss Liu shook his head and said, “I should be thanking you.”
On the other side, after Yu Qingze and the others set up their stall, Grandpa Chang specially went to his youngest son, Chang Sheng’s, house.
As soon as he entered the courtyard, Grandpa Chang saw Chang Sheng limping out, carrying a bucket in his hand, as if he had just finished feeding the pigs.
“Father?” Chang Sheng was surprised to see his father. He asked, “Why did you come here?” He knew his father well enough to know that he wouldn’t come unless there was something important.
Grandpa Chang nodded and looked around. He asked, “Where are Wen Li and the others?”
“Wen Li went to cut pig grass, Brother Yue went to do the laundry, and Shunzi went to the wharf with Dahai to handle cargo.” Chang Sheng put down the bucket, washed his hands, and brought out a stool from the kitchen, placing it under the eaves. He said, “Father, have a seat.”
Grandpa Chang sat down and asked, “How come Shunzi went to handle cargo? Didn’t Wen Li always stop him from going?”
Grandpa Chang continued to say, “Well, he’s already twenty-one. If he doesn’t go out to work and earn some money, how can he get married? Money won’t fall from the sky, will it? I’ve been telling Wen Li that he shouldn’t spoil the kids. And you too, you can’t even control your own wife. His big mouth has caused so much trouble, and he keeps doing all sorts of nonsense, making Xiao Le embarrassed. If it weren’t for the sake of the two children, I would have given him a beating.”
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Chang Sheng’s face was filled with guilt, and he said, “It’s all my fault for being useless and not being able to earn money.”
Grandpa Chang sighed and looked at his youngest son with a heavy heart. He said, “Your legs may be disabled, but your eyes and heart should not be. It’s been over ten years, and you should look forward. It wasn’t like this before…”
Chang Sheng kept his head down, unable to lift it at all.
At this moment, Wen Li came back carrying pig grass. When he saw Grandpa Chang at home, she was also surprised and asked, “Oh, Father, why did you come here? Is there something wrong?”
Seeing Wen Li come back, Grandpa Chang sighed and waved his hand, saying, “Put down the pig grass for now and come here. I want to discuss something with you.”
Wen Li put down the pig grass and sat on a chair, asking, “What is it? Did Yu Qingze agree to marry Brother Yue?”
As soon as he heard this, Grandpa Chang became angry and said, “Stop having ideas about Yu Qingze. Isn’t it embarrassing enough?!”
Wen Li couldn’t accept it and said, “Why is it embarrassing? Others can go for arranged marriages, why can’t Brother Yue?”
Grandpa Chang angrily retorted, “Brother Yue, Brother Yue! Look at what you’ve turned Brother Yue into! Don’t you have any sense of it?”
Wen Li muttered, “I’ve been teaching him now, and he has improved. Shouldn’t we let him change for the better?”
Grandpa Chang became frustrated and said, “You said the same thing two years ago! And now? Brother Yue has been ruined by all of you!”
Upon hearing this, Wen Li became agitated and said with grievance, “How have I ruined him? I almost lost my life giving birth to him, barely saved him. Isn’t it natural to care for him?”
Speaking of this, Grandpa Chang was momentarily speechless and could only say, “Who cares for someone like you do? He has become such a lazy person. Who would dare to marry him in the future? If *Chang Shun wanted to marry someone like Brother Yue, would you agree?”
*(T/N: Chang Shun is the official name of Shunzi, the eldest son of Chang Sheng and Wen Li).
Upon hearing this, Wen Li unusually fell silent.
After a long pause, Chang Sheng spoke softly, “Father, did you come here for a reason?”
“…You’ve all been so confused by your own thoughts that you almost forgot the main point!” Grandpa Chang said irritably, then continued, “Here’s the thing: Yu Qingze’s business is booming and he’s overwhelmed. He wants to split off the liangpi making business and let you take it. Do you want to do it? If not, he’ll find someone else.”
When Wen Li heard that Yu Qingze’s liangpi business was being offered to them, his eyes lit up. He asked, “How would it work? Will we work as employees and get paid, or how?”
Grandpa Chang glanced at him and replied, “He will teach you the method. You’ll buy the flour and make it yourselves, while he buys the finished product. Will you do it?”
Wen Li’s mind worked quickly, and he asked, “How many liangpi can be made from one kilogram of flour? How much can we earn?”
Grandpa Chang frowned and said, “I’m not sure about that, but according to Yu Qingze, you can probably earn around two to three wen for every kilogram of dry liangpi, depending on the quality. The snack stall over there needs about thirty to forty kilograms per day, so if you do it, it won’t be a small amount at the end of the month.”
Wen Li’s eyes flickered, and he said, “Alright, we’ll do it!”
Seeing his expression, Grandpa Chang didn’t know what he was thinking. He warned him first, “Wen Li, let me warn you. Don’t have any crooked ideas. Yu Qingze has skills, and if you work steadily, he might have other opportunities for you in the future. But if you mess around and do something shady, you can stop dreaming of making money with him later.”
Wen Li smiled and said, “Oh, Father, you’re thinking too much. How could I have any other ideas? You’re overthinking it.”
Grandpa Chang grumbled, “Hmph, I’m putting it out there today. I’ll help you this time, but if you don’t cherish it and start playing tricks, even if Yu Qingze is willing to give you opportunities, I won’t agree!”
Wen Li’s expression changed, and he said, “Father, you can’t turn your back on us. After all, Yu Qingze is an outsider.”
Grandpa Chang glared and said, “An outsider treats Xiao Le better than you do, and you still have the nerve to say that! Let me tell you, if you continue with all those shady things and go to Xiao Le with them, then forget about making liangpi!”
Wen Li saw that the old man was really angry, so in order to secure future earnings, he quickly said, “Oh, alright, Father, I won’t go to him. Besides, I can’t even find him.”
“You still want to find him?!”
“No, no more!”
Grandpa Chang stared at Wen Li and said, “In short, I’m giving you a chance, and it’s the last one. Whether you want to live a stable life or not, it’s up to you to figure it out.”
After speaking, Grandpa Chang didn’t wait for Wen Li to say anything and walked away.
That night, Yu Qingze noticed that Grandpa Chang hadn’t gone to sleep yet and found him sitting in the kitchen smoking. He walked over and squatted down, asking, “Grandpa, why aren’t you sleeping? Is something bothering you?”
Grandpa Chang sighed and said, “It’s nothing. Just thinking about some past matters that are keeping me awake.”
Yu Qingze guessed it was about Uncle Chang’s family. He had seen Uncle Chang a few times in the village, limping on one leg, so he asked, “How did Uncle injure his leg?”
Grandpa Chang sighed and said, “It was during the turmoil years, back when Xiao Le got into trouble. At that time, Chang Le’s father, mother, and I went to rescue his grandmother, leaving Chang Sheng and Wen Li to take care of the children. But little did we know that Wen Li would be captured by bandits again, and he was four months pregnant at that time. Chang Sheng asked the three children to stay in place while he went to save Wen Li. He managed to bring him back, but his leg was injured by those people, leaving him crippled. When they returned, they only saw Chang Shun alone in the same spot. That’s why Chang Sheng has always felt guilty towards his older brother’s family. For so many years, he didn’t dare to visit or see Le.”
“Afterwards, Wen Li lost the baby in his womb, and his body was severely weakened. The doctors said he probably couldn’t conceive again. It wasn’t until he became pregnant with Brother Yue that he encountered a difficult childbirth, almost losing his life. That’s why Wen Li spoils Brother Yue so much. Chang Sheng also feels responsible for not protecting Wen Li and the child properly, so he blames himself. Even if Wen Li does something wrong, he doesn’t dare to discipline him.”
The old man’s eyes became moist as he spoke. He reached out to wipe his eyes and said, “Sigh, how did I raise such a weak son? He wasn’t like this before…”
Yu Qingze didn’t expect such a story and sighed, saying, “So that’s what happened.”
They remained silent for a while.
When Grandpa Chang’s emotions had settled, he said, “Aze, I also told them today that if anything goes wrong, they won’t be given any more work in the future. You just watch their performance. If they can’t do it well, you don’t have to worry about me. It’s up to them.”
Yu Qingze nodded. Originally, he agreed to give them this opportunity because of Grandpa Chang’s request. He replied, “I understand, Grandpa.”
The next day, the new item “Guandong Zhu” was officially introduced at Yu’s Delicious Delights.
Yu Qingze left earlier than the others. He had to prepare and cook the soup base. Soon after, Chang Le and Brother Chang arrived. After Grandpa Chang sent Chang Hao to school, he came to help as well, fearing that they would be overwhelmed on their first day. He worked until noon and then went back to tend to the cows in the afternoon.
Some early customers noticed the addition of another snack cart with two square iron grills on top. They curiously asked, “Boss Yu, what new food are you making this time?”
Yu Qingze smiled and replied, “Oh, this? It’s called Guandong Zhu.’ You can try it in about fifteen minutes. If you’re not in a hurry, you can come back later and take a look.”
“Alright, I’ll come take a look at this new food later.”
Once the soup base was ready, they placed the grid pot into the groove and transferred the soup base into it. They turned on the stove underneath, adjusted the fire with the control panel, and then started cooking by placing the prepared ingredients into the individual compartments of the grid pot.
When most of the food had been cooked and infused with flavors, curious customers approached. Yu Qingze asked Brother Chang to prepare a bowl first. He used a small knife to cut the cooked food into small pieces, dipped them in chili sauce, and offered them as samples to the customers.
“Oh, are these round ones made of meat or flour?”
“Sir, these are pork meatballs made of real pork. Give them a try.”
“And what about this one?”
“This is tofu, very delicious. Please have a taste.”
“What about this?”
“This is gluten, it’s incredibly tasty. I guarantee you’ll like it.”
In each bowl of food, there were several fresh ingredients that the customers hadn’t seen before, and they were all eager to try something new.
“Mmm, the seaweed tastes really fresh.”
“This radish is much tastier than the one I stewed at home.”
“This tofu is delicious, and the broth is so flavorful!”
“These meatballs are the best!”
“How much does each item cost?”
“Sir, green vegetables are one penny for two skewers, seaweed, radish, and lotus root slices are one penny for one skewer, tofu, dried tofu chunks, gluten, and wild mushrooms are two pennies for one skewer, and meatballs are one penny each.”
“Oh, that’s not cheap! Look at these meatballs, they’re so tiny, and yet they cost one penny each. And only three pieces on a skewer for the tofu.”
“Sir, let me ask you, is the taste worth the price? If you can find another place in the city with the same quality, I’ll treat you to a bowl of meatballs today!”
“Hahaha, you’re quite clever with words, young man! Alright, give me one skewer of seaweed, one skewer of tofu, one skewer of gluten, and uh, three meatballs!”
“Sure, please wait a moment, sir. I’ll be right with you.”
“I’ll take two skewers of tofu and two meatballs! And give me a bowl of cold noodles too!”
“Oh, I’ll have a bowl of cold noodles too!”
“Coming right up, please wait.”
Once someone started buying, others followed suit. Everyone wanted to try this new and flavorful snack. After tasting it, they were captivated by the savory and delicious flavor that surpassed what they made at home.
“It’s just dried tofu, but why does it taste better than what I make at home?”
“Don’t just talk about dried tofu. I could even feel the meaty texture in the tofu and gluten. It’s quite amazing.”
Yu Qingze smiled. The tofu and gluten were both deep-fried, which naturally brought a satisfying oily sensation. Moreover, the soup base was made from meat broth, so when the ingredients soaked up the flavorful soup, it created a meaty taste.
The snacks in the two iron grills quickly sold out, and Yu Qingze replenished them swiftly. Despite the hot weather, business was even better than selling cold noodles and liangpi.
After enjoying the hot snacks, many customers also ordered a bowl of cold noodles to cool down, considering it a combo.
However, there was an accounting issue while selling these items.
To differentiate quickly, Yu Qingze purposely used bamboo skewers with different colors as markers. However, Chang Le didn’t have the same calculation speed as modern people. So Yu Qingze had Chang Le take care of the cold noodles and liangpi while he handled the “Guan Dong Zhu.” After preparing a bowl, he would inform Chang Le of the price and explain to the customers the “pay when served” method.
Some customers had complaints, but many understood. In the end, they were all going to pay anyway, whether it was before or after eating, so the difference wasn’t significant.
As time went on, when Chang Le couldn’t handle the orders, Yu Qingze allowed customers to order directly from the food cart to save time.
Mi Ge’er would visit their snack cart every day and today, upon seeing the new snacks, he immediately packed three large bowls to take home.
Since they tasted the dishes made by Yu Qingze, Old Master Cai, Madam Cai, and Cai Yunwei couldn’t stop thinking about them. They had become loyal customers of Yu Qingze. Now, with Mi Ge’er bringing back new snacks, the three of them immediately gathered around the table and started eating.
There were three large bowls: one for Old Master Cai and Madam Cai, and one for Cai Yunwei, and the last one for their servants.
Seeing the younger master eating eagerly, Mi Ge’er quickly swallowed the piece of gluten in his mouth and said, “Young Master, Boss Yu said that you have a weak stomach and shouldn’t eat too much. Just a taste of each item is enough.”
“Ah? But I want to eat more!” Cai Yunwei held a skewer of meatballs, having only eaten one.
Upon hearing this, Old Master Cai quickly reached out and snatched the meatball from Cai Yunwei’s hand, smiling happily, “Wei’er, be obedient. Boss Yu said you shouldn’t eat too much. I’ll eat this meatball for you, good boy.”
Madam Cai’s sideways glance at his husband.
Cai Yunwei looked at his grandfather devouring one meatball after another, feeling a bit resentful and longing to eat more.
Although Guandong Zhu is a hot dish, its novelty and delicious taste make it irresistible to the customers. Once they have tried it, they can’t help but crave for more.
When they return home and have their usual homemade dishes, they suddenly find the taste bland and unsatisfying. They can’t even swallow it anymore.
Later on, some people started bringing food containers to pack Guandong Zhu from the snack stall and take it home for meals. Many customers even requested extra soup because it was so delicious.
Once someone started the trend, others followed suit. Eventually, many people became regulars who brought their own food containers to pack their meals. This saved Yu Qingze and his team a lot of effort in washing dishes and cleaning up.
The introduction of Guandong Zhu was another success.
From cold noodles, sour beans, and pickled radishes, to savory and sweet jellies, and now Guandong Zhu, Yu’s Delicious Delight had become the hottest food stall in Tongshan City in less than a month.
Although other vendors were envious, they could only admire from afar. After all, how could they compete with someone who consistently brings fresh and incredibly tasty dishes to the table?
This talent was truly something to be envied.
The stall was busy for a few days.
Yu Qingze noticed that there were suddenly many vendors selling lanterns on the street. Not only were there various beautiful hanging lanterns, but also the kind of lotus lanterns he had seen on TV, as well as many vendors selling colored paper.
Curious, Yu Qingze wondered if there was a festival approaching. Could it be the Mid-Autumn Festival? He wasn’t sure if it was called the Mid-Autumn Festival here.
He asked Chang Le, “Brother Le, is there a festival coming up?”
Chang Le nodded and made a hand gesture. Yu Qingze guessed, “Women… Gers’ Festival?”
Chang Le saw that he understood and smiled happily.
Yu Qingze blinked and felt delighted. It had been many days since Chang Le had smiled at him like this. Whenever he saw him, Chang Le would hide and avoid making eye contact. But now, just because he guessed his two hand gestures correctly, Chang Le was this happy.
It was simply adorable.
Yu Qingze’s fingers twitched, wanting to reach out and touch Chang Le’s face, but he held back. If he scared him away again, it would be a shame.
Chang Le realized that Yu Qingze was staring at him and blushed, quickly turning his gaze away and pretending to be busy.
Yu Qingze smiled and turned to talk to Brother Chang, saying, “I didn’t even notice.”
Brother Chang saw their interaction just now and chuckled softly, saying, “Boss Yu, you’ve been busy these days and forgot about it. I remembered when I saw the lanterns on the street. The day after tomorrow is the eighth day of the eighth lunar month, the Gers’ Festival.”
The Gers’ Festival, just from the name, was a festival specially designated for Gers.
A thought crossed Yu Qingze’s mind, and he asked Brother Chang, “Brother Chang, will there be any activities or celebrations during that time?”
Brother Chang smiled and replied, “Yes, during the day, it will be livelier than usual. In the evening, there will be a lantern festival in the city, riddle guessing contests, poetry recitals, acrobatics, and many other fun activities.”
“Do the city gates close later than usual? Have you come to see the lantern festival in previous years?”
“Yes, the city gates close at the third quarter of the Hai hour (9:45 pm). We have come in previous years, it’s very lively. You can also come and join the fun.”
Yu Qingze felt delighted and announced loudly, “Great! We won’t open the stall the day after tomorrow, we’ll take a day off to celebrate the Gers’ Festival!”
Brother Chang was pleasantly surprised and said, “Really? That’s wonderful! I was thinking of coming to the city after we finish at the stall. Thank you, Boss Yu!”
“You’re welcome. It’s the Gers’ Festival, how can I let you all work hard again!” Yu Qingze said with a smile.
The lantern festival, what a perfect opportunity for a date or confession!
How could he miss it!
Thingyan: Thank you so much for your support ☺️😙