The next morning, at the entrance of Wang’s Noodle Shop, Boss Wang rubbed his hands together and stretched his neck, looking towards the south.
“Father, hasn’t Tugen arrived yet? If we don’t start cooking soon, we won’t be able to open the shop,” said Boss Wang’s son, stepping out of the shop’s entrance.
Boss Wang replied irritably, “I’m waiting too, you know! Ah, this Tugen, always saying ‘early morning’ but still hasn’t come even when we’re about to open.”
The two of them continued to wait anxiously at the entrance. Their hearts were pounding with impatience. Finally, a figure carrying a large basket on their back and holding a bag in their hand appeared at the end of the road. Both of them brightened up instantly.
“Hey, he’s here! Father, he’s here!” exclaimed Boss Wang’s son excitedly.
“I saw him! Why are you shouting so loud?” Boss Wang replied in an annoyed tone.
As the figure approached, Boss Wang immediately said, “Ah, Tugen, why are you so late? We’re about to open the shop! Go to the weighing scale, Ah Ming will get it for you.”
“Okay!” Boss Wang’s son, Wang Ming, immediately went to the back room to fetch the weighing scale.
The man called Tugen wiped the sweat off his forehead and followed the two of them into the backyard. He unloaded the basket and opened the sack in his hand, saying, “I’m really sorry, Boss Wang. I went to pick some more this morning, so I arrived a bit late. The ones inside are sun-dried. I picked them yesterday afternoon and I was worried they might spoil, so I sun-dried them again. The ones in the basket are freshly picked this morning, still fresh.”
“Alright, it’s all good,” Boss Wang said. He used a hook to weigh the basket and the sack separately, then said, “The basket weighs sixteen catties, and the sack is five and a half catties!”
He poured the silver ears into two separate trays and said to his son, “Alright, Ah Ming, start cooking!”
“Father, should I use these semi-dried ones or the fresh ones?” Wang Ming asked.
“You’re silly, of course, use the fresh ones! Otherwise, how will we make it on time! We need to soak the semi-dry ones!”
“Oh, I see,” Wang Ming carried the bag of fresh white fungus sweets and entered the kitchen.
Tugen watched Wang Ming enter the kitchen and curiously asked, “Boss Wang, what are you going to do with these white fungus?”
Boss Wang chuckled and casually replied, “Nothing much, just making some money. Let’s weigh the baskets again.”
Afraid that Tugen would continue asking and knowing that the price of the white fungus sweet soup they made would increase once people knew it was popular, he quickly changed the subject and weighed the empty baskets and sacks again. He said, “The skins weigh four and a half catties. After removing the skins, the total weight of the white fungus sweets is seventeen catties. Look, right?”
“Yes,” Tugen nodded in agreement.
“Come on, Tugen, let’s do the math. In total, seventeen catties at six wen per catty, ten catties make sixty wen, and seven catties make forty-two wen. So, in total, it’s… hey, one hundred and two wen. Isn’t it right?”
Tugen scratched his head. He couldn’t calculate as fast as Boss Wang. After a while, he nodded and said, “Hehe, yes.”
“Here, Tugen, take this one hundred and two wen. Next time, make sure to come earlier. We almost missed an important event here.” Boss Wang counted out one hundred and two wen from his money bag and handed it to Tugen. He reminded him to come earlier in the future.
“Okay, I’ll bring some more in the day after tomorrow.”
Tugen took the money happily and left. He forgot to ask Boss Wang what they were going to do with the inedible white fungus sweets. He was in a hurry to buy some meat from the market to satisfy everyone’s craving. The family was exhausted from the autumn harvest, and they needed some meat to enjoy.
With the white fungus sweets ready, the Wang family was pleased. They quickly washed them and started making white fungus sweet soup in a rush. Finally, a while after opening the shop, they finished making the white fungus sweet soup.
“Waiter, two bowls of white fungus sweet soup!” a young man walked into Wang’s Noodle Shop with a five or six-year-old boy. They came to eat the white fungus sweet soup here. They heard their neighbor talking about how delicious and crispy the white fungus sweet soup here was, so they wanted to taste it too.
“Coming!” the waiter shouted loudly, serving two bowls of red date, white fungus sweet, and lotus seed soup. He smiled and said, “Freshly made white fungus sweet soup, enjoy your meal, sir.”
“Waiter, bring a bowl of cold noodles and another bowl of white fungus sweet soup over here!” another customer on the other side placed an order.
“Alright, alright, coming!”
“We barely made it in time,” Boss Wang stood at the kitchen doorway, wiping the sweat off his forehead and sighed with relief.
Wang Ming had finished his busy work and also breathed a sigh of relief. He said, “Father, why don’t we have Tugen sun-dry them and bring them over? It’s more cost-effective, just like the previous days. It’s the same price, but when they’re sun-dried, you can soak them in water and they’ll expand into a big pot. Look at today’s fresh ones, we had to weigh them again.”
Boss Wang gave him a disapproving look and said, “Do you think they haven’t thought of that? The previous days, they couldn’t send them over because they were busy with the autumn harvest, so they had no choice but to sun-dry them. Now that they have time, do you think they’ll sun-dry them and sell them to you at the same price? Are you dreaming?”
“Hehehe, I was just suggesting. Otherwise, we can adjust the price,” Wang Ming suggested again.
Boss Wang thought for a moment and said, “Adjusting the price is possible, but we don’t have any inventory, and that’s still a problem. In our hometown, it’s only in their village that they have white fungus. If they don’t send them over, where can we find them? Besides, this thing isn’t available every day. If it doesn’t grow in the woods, Tugen and the others can’t pick any.”
“Then, how about I go to the market and inquire about the villagers living near the mountains who have white fungus? They can pick them and bring them to us,” Wang Ming suggested again.
Boss Wang found it feasible and patted his son’s shoulder, saying, “You little rascal, you finally did something useful. Alright, do as you said. Go to the market and ask around. Oh, by the way, while you’re at it, go to the market in the west and buy some cold noodles. Also, ask that old guy again. If we offer more money, let’s see if he’ll sell us the recipe. That old guy must be unhappy with our low offer, but I don’t believe we can’t buy it. Persuade him nicely, and if we get the recipe, we’ll save a lot of money!”
“Okay, I’ll go right now.”
Just like the previous days, the white fungus sweet soup and cold noodles sold well, and the sales of other noodles also increased.
Boss Wang was very satisfied and calculated in his mind. Once he had the method for making cold noodles, he believed they could earn more money. The frustration he had felt these days due to the tricks played by his arch-rival and Yu’s Shop had finally dissipated to some extent.
As they were talking, Boss Wang’s wife arrived. He sighed and said to his husband, “Thank goodness you heard about this recipe; otherwise, we would have lost money this month.”
Boss Wang smiled and said, “It was just a coincidence. Yesterday, my brother-in-law asked me how I knew about this recipe.”
“Oh? How did you respond?” Boss Wang asked curiously.
Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.
Boss Wang’s wife replied, “I told them that I accidentally overheard someone from Yu’s talking about it. Madam Huang doesn’t particularly like me, so when I heard it, I came back immediately, afraid that he would find out and cause trouble for me.”
“Hmph, don’t mind him. He’s just jealous of you, my dear,” Boss Wang reassured his wife.
Boss Wang’s wife glanced at him and chuckled, “Hehe, are you praising yourself?”
Boss Wang, in a good mood, put his arm around his wife’s shoulder and said, “Isn’t it true? Look at me, with a wife like you, how could he not be jealous of you?”
With business picking up, the Wang couple were in the mood to talk and laugh again.
By noon, five out of the seventeen pounds of white fungus sweets they had bought in the morning had already been used.
Boss Wang sighed. Fresh ones didn’t last as long as the dried ones, but they were easier to cook and the customers said today’s white fungus sweet soup tasted better.
He began to struggle with whether it was better to use fresh ones or dried ones. Fresh ones had a better texture, but it was clear that drying them had lower costs. If he wanted to make money, he had to use the dried ones after all.
It would be great if Tugen could accept the same price for selling the dried ones, but that seemed difficult.
However, before he could come to a conclusion, several men, accompanied by a ger and a crying little boy, barged in.
“Where’s the boss? Get out here! What are you selling? My wife and son are in this state because of your food!” one burly man shouted, wielding a stick and smashing it onto an empty table nearby, shattering the bowls and chopsticks that were still on it.
Other customers in the noodle shop were startled by the scene, and they all stopped what they were doing, looking at this group of people.
As soon as the waiter saw this aggressive group, he thought they had come to cause trouble. He quickly rushed into the kitchen and yelled, “Boss, boss, a group of people is here causing trouble!”
Boss Wang and his wife also heard the commotion. They walked out and saw the smashed bowls and chopsticks on the table. Frowning, Boss Wang asked, “What are you doing, sir? Smashing my bowls and chopsticks and scaring my customers? You’ll have to compensate for that!”
The man became furious when he saw the boss come out and cursed, “You heartless boss, are you crazy about making money? The white fungus sweet soup you sell is poisonous! Look at what you’ve done to my wife and son!”
As he spoke, the man pulled out a boy around five or six years old and a younger man from behind him.
Upon seeing them, everyone gasped. Oh my, both of them had clusters of red and swollen skin on their faces, necks, and around their collarbones. Their arms were also covered in red, swollen bumps. The child even had many blisters, some of which had been scratched open, revealing tender flesh.
A thin layer of white ointment was applied to the swollen skin of both individuals, indicating that they had seen a doctor. However, their appearance was still appalling, as if they had been scalded by boiling water.
The child cried loudly, his eyes swollen from crying. He must have been incredibly itchy and couldn’t help but try to scratch, but an older boy next to him held his hand to prevent him from doing so. It was a pitiful sight.
“Oh, how terrible! It looks so itchy.”
“What… what happened?”
One of the customers who had also eaten the white fungus sweet soup became concerned and asked, “I heard it was because of eating the white fungus sweet soup. Oh dear, I just had a bowl! Sir, are you sure your wife and son ate the same thing?”
The man nodded and said, “Yes, they had the white fungus soup this morning! They were fine before eating it. After they went back home, my wife took our son to play in the yard and didn’t eat anything else. Within an hour, they started itching all over! Shortly after, their skin turned red and swollen like this! The doctor said they were poisoned!”
Several other customers who had also eaten the white fungus sweet soup panicked.
“Oh no, what do we do now?”
“I ate it too, even had two bowls! How could you sell poisonous white fungus sweet soup, boss?!”
“Yeah, what do we do? Oh, I feel itchy all over!” a customer said anxiously, rubbing his arms and scratching here and there.
Seeing this situation, Boss Wang, became furious and said, “Nonsense! I’ve been selling this white fungus sweet soup for several days. If it were poisonous, it would have caused harm a long time ago! You can ask the people around here. How many days have I been selling this white fungus sweet soup? Has anything happened before?! I want to ask you too, why is it that only your two family members have problems after eating it?!”
Wang’s wife chimed in, “Exactly! Are you intentionally trying to extort money from us?!”
Other customers around them thought it made sense and nodded in agreement.
One customer said, “That’s right! It has been sold for several days, and nothing happened. Why did only you two have issues?”
“True, there are plenty of people on Beida Street who intentionally fake illnesses to extort money. It’s not surprising at all.”
Feeling supported by some customers, the boss’s confidence grew, and he said, “If you’re short on money, I may not be wealthy, but I can donate a small amount to you. But the way you’re behaving is inappropriate. If you have any sense, leave now, and I won’t hold you responsible for the broken dishes and utensils. If you continue to cause trouble, then let the authorities handle it!”
Upon hearing this, the man and his group became infuriated and started cursing.
The young man among them couldn’t contain his anger and shouted, “You despicable scoundrel! It’s because we ate at your place that we ended up like this! You’re a terrible boss! You refuse to acknowledge it and even falsely accuse us! Look at me, my face was perfectly fine, and now it’s like this! My son is so young, yet he has to suffer like this. If he’s left with scars, what are we supposed to do?!”
The onlookers watched the two people with swollen faces and bodies, and they sighed in unison. If scars were left behind, they would become pockmarked.
They were also unfortunate.
“You heartless boss, selling toxic things and refusing to admit it! Do you think we’re easy targets? Big brother, don’t waste time talking. Let’s smash his shop and seek revenge for Xiao Wu and the others!”
“That’s right! Just because he has money doesn’t mean anything! Although our Hu family in Tongshan City may not be rich, are we inferior to a small noodle shop owner like him? Big brother, stop talking and give him a good beating!”
As they spoke, the group of people rushed forward, rolled up their sleeves, kicked tables and chairs, and were ready to physically confront them.
Wang’s wife, seeing the crowd approaching, screamed loudly, “Help! This is outrageous! They want to beat people for money!”
The onlookers, witnessing the impending fight, quickly scattered, afraid of getting involved.
The sight frightened the young child even more, and he cried louder and louder.
The leading man, noticing the situation, quickly stopped his two brothers. “Second brother, third brother, wait! Don’t act rashly! Third brother, go get the doctor! Second brother, go to their kitchen and make sure they don’t destroy any evidence!”
“Alright, big brother!” One man turned and left.
The other man rushed into the kitchen.
Boss Wang, snorted and said, “Calling the doctor suits me fine! It’ll expose your conspiracy! By then, hmph, you’ll have to compensate for all the losses in my shop—tables, chairs, bowls, and the business during this period!”
The man glared angrily; he had never encountered such shameless person before.
“Perfect! Once the doctor arrives, I want to see how you’ll compensate for the losses suffered by my wife and son!”
Neither of them was willing to back down.
Just then, another group of people entered with a young boy.
“Where’s the boss? Get out here, you despicable scoundrel! What kind of crap are you selling? You’ve ruined my brother’s face!”
Thandar: So, you can eat it, just don’t go out in the sun afterwards???