Chapter 85: Goji Berry Dangshen Pigeon Soup
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Behind the good news of Aunt Shen’s return, there was even better news.
As everyone had guessed already: Aunt Shen was pregnant. In fact, the main reason she returned home was to have her child, and then have a place to settle down and raise them in peace.
The first thing Aunt Shen did when she arrived was tell Grandfather Shen and the rest of the Shen family the good news, and now she was telling Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi as well. Shen Fu had already guessed that the reason Aunt Shen came back early would be because of this, so with his guess turning out correct, he wasn’t too surprised by the news. Looking at her belly, Shen Fu couldn’t imagine what this woman, who didn’t even seem like much of an aunt, would look as a mother when her belly grew bigger.
Aunt Shen’s personality was usually so carefree that it was only in rare moments like this—leaning back against Alan’s chest and asking Grandfather Shen what her child should be named—that she seemed to reveal a bit of a motherly temperament.
Alan looked at her, his face tender with affection. It seemed that both of them eagerly awaited this child.
Grandfather Shen was also very happy with this turn of events, and his face, too, was full of smiles. In front of everyone gathered there, he made a promise that he would definitely come up with a beautiful and meaningful name.
As soon as Lin ShuYi heard that Aunt Shen was pregnant, he went into the kitchen to add a special dish to the menu. A young pigeon, goji berries, danshen, and more, stewed into a small pot of pigeon soup. With the oil and scum skimmed off the surface, the resulting soup was clear and light. In DaYan, this nourishing delicacy was specifically reserved for pregnant women because it wasn’t excessively greasy, and also high in nutrition.
Aunt Shen had long since heard that this XiQin restaurant was opened and owned by Lin ShuYi, but she didn’t realise that the head chef was also Lin ShuYi himself, who was still a child in her eyes. Knowing this, she was now all the more eager to taste his food.
“Trying to find Chinese food like this in other countries is so hard.” Aunt Shen herself was culinarily inept, and though Alan had his handful of signature dishes, they were all limited to western foods. Thus, Aunt Shen hadn’t had good Chinese food for a long while now.
“Well, aren’t you going to be staying a long while this time? You can eat until you’re satisfied while you’re here.” Shen Mom answered with a smile.
Aunt Shen laughed. “How can I possibly eat until I’m satisfied? With all the wide and varied Chinese cuisines, I can never have enough.”
Grandfather Shen glanced at his son-in-law, and said to Aunt Shen, “You might be staying home this time, but what about Alan?”
Alan had his own business in America, so even if he wanted to, he couldn’t stay here long.
“I can stay until after the Lunar New Year, but then I’ll have to return to Los Angeles. Please look after ShiMan in my stead.” Even while speaking, Alan hugged Aunt Shen closer to him. He was reluctant to part with her, but he knew America’s culture of raising a newborn child alone didn’t suit a Chinese woman like Aunt Shen at all. Even if he could find a good nanny that Aunt Shen liked, in a time like this, she would still need her family most. So, suppressing his own reluctance to part with his wife, Alan brought her back home to her family.
Grandfather Shen nodded, and nothing more needed to be said. To Grandfather Shen, Aunt Shen had always been a priceless jewel in his heart, how could he treat her with anything less than the utmost care?
Aunt Shen and Alan cuddled sweetly for a moment, enjoying each other’s company, but then Aunt Shen suddenly turned to look at Shen Fu. “Wait, what about you? Are you planning on having kids?”
Although everyone had open-mindedly accepted the two Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi, they still felt that kids were so much more than just a way to carry on the family line. When the two of them grew old, having their descendants by their side to keep them company would keep the loneliness at bay.
Shen Fu massaged his ring finger, and said, “Of course we want kids, but first we plan on registering for marriage abroad.”
“You’ve already thought about getting married?” Aunt Shen was a bit stunned, and her jaw dropped. “Wow, it seems like you’re far more prepared than I had imagined.”
Grandfather Shen, Shen Mom, and Shen Dad all looked at her.
In fact, this was something that the rest of the Shen family had long thought of already.
“Well, although I think marriage is pretty important, since the two of you already have your sights set on each other, then it’s really just a formality now. In a few days, I’ll be heading to H City to go take a look at the child welfare agency there. Do you want to come with me?”
Shen Fu thought about it, and felt that he needed to know how Lin ShuYi felt before he answered. “I’m fine with it, but I need to know Lin ShuYi’s opinion.”
“What needs my opinion?” Coincidentally, Lin ShuYi was just in the middle of walking up the stairs.
Speak of Lin ShuYi and here he came. Aunt Shen laughed. “Want to go take a look at the kids you might adopt?”
Lin ShuYi froze, surprised. Although this matter was on their itinerary, he didn’t expect it to happen this fast. But, thinking of a child by his side, calling him ‘papa,’ he suddenly felt his heart move, so he nodded his head without much more thought.
Aunt Shen grinned. “But really, you’re still a child yourself, so there’s no need to rush into things.”
Lin ShuYi didn’t respond. Actually, if speaking of his real age, then he shouldn’t be that much younger than Shen Fu. The youth of his body didn’t hinder the maturity of his heart, and what’s more, he had even experienced death already. Compared to the grand ambitions of his past life, in this lifetime, what he wanted more than anything was just to live an ordinary life with his family.
Grandfather Shen nodded in agreement, but added, “Although Xiao Yi is still a child in age, I’ve always felt that he’s much more sensible than ordinary children.”
This was also the reason why the Shen family often overlooked his age.
Pulling out a chair by his side, Shen Fu gestured for Lin ShuYi to have a seat, and Lin ShuYi remembered the reason why he came upstairs. “All the food is done, so everyone can eat now.”
Under Lin ShuYi’s direction, two girls brought up plate after plate, one by one. Six delicate cold dishes, adjusted to be light in flavor to suit Aunt Shen’s condition, without any heavy seasonings.
Then eight hot dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike. Tender pork trotters that melted in one’s mouth, crispy little fish tossed with green peppers, light and tasty celery sauteed with lily bulbs, sweet and delicious pine nuts and corn kernels. And finally, three medium bowls of soup: glutinous rice flour dumplings in sweet rice wine, savoury crucian carp with tofu, and the goji berry, dangshen, and pigeon soup made specially for Aunt Shen.
Aunt Shen stared at the table, awestruck. “You made all of this?”
Lin ShuYi nodded. “Go ahead, auntie, try it.”
Because Aunt Shen really didn’t have that much of an age difference with Shen Fu and Shen Yan, she really didn’t like them calling her ‘aunt,’ but when a tender boy like Lin ShuYi called her that, it didn’t make her feel uncomfortable at all. Making a noise of agreement, Aunt Shen picked up her chopsticks and prepared to eat. “Dad, I haven’t had such good food in such a long time, you won’t mind if I start eating first, right? And you guys eat too.”
Grandfather Shen watched as his daughter abandoned all polite table manners, revealing her true personality as soon as she started eating, and couldn’t help but laugh. He looked at her with a pampering gaze. “Go ahead, eat, this was all made for you by Lin ShuYi. Enjoy it to your heart’s content.”
WIth her chopsticks in hand, Aunt Shen’s gaze bypassed all the delicate little dishes Lin ShuYi had prepared just for her, and landed on a bright red and numbingly spicy liangfen sprinkled with green coriander leaves. Secretly, while the rest of the Shen family wasn’t paying attention, she snuck bite after bite into her bowl.
Although she was pregnant, she had really, really missed these kinds of hot and spicy cold-tossed dishes! Why couldn’t she eat a bit more than she should to satisfy her cravings?
The liangfen was made by Lin ShuYi himself, using fine, sifted sweet potato flour. Although the colour wasn’t as pretty as liangfen made with pea flour, the taste was much stronger. Paired with crunchy crushed peanuts, hand-ground sesame paste, bright red chili oil, and refreshing balsamic vinegar, Aunt Shen closed her eyes as soon as the flavors touched her tongue.
She ate mouthful after mouthful, completely unable to stop, and even as her mouth was numb from spiciness she still reached her chopsticks out again.
“ShiMan.” Alan called lightly, and Aunt Shen paused. Then she slowly shrunk her chopsticks back.
“You should try it too, it’s really good!”
Alan already knew that Aunt Shen was sneaking bites when he wasn’t looking, but since he also knew that she really missed this dish, he didn’t say anything. However, a pregnant person still shouldn’t eat too much spicy food. Seeing how much Aunt Shen enjoyed the liangfen, Alan picked up some of it himself, and had a taste.
Alan had had his share of Chinese food over the years, and closing his eyes too, he had to admit it really was delicious. From his perspective, he couldn’t pick out a single flaw. And being the owner of a restaurant chain himself, he couldn’t help but have a completely new level of respect for Lin ShuYi.
In his opinion, only a chef who could cook such common dishes to perfection could truly be called a chef. Someone who could only make a dish taste good because of it’s rare ingredients wasn’t someone impressive at all. But no matter how good it was, Aunt Shen still couldn’t eat too much.
Looking at the pout on her face, Alan chuckled. “If you really want to eat more, then rinse with some water first.”
Aunt Shen refused with a stubborn shake of her head. If she washed all the spices off, then what was the point of the dish!
Lin ShuYi, who was used to Aunt Shen with her occasional childish temper tantrums, placed a different dish in front of her. “This isn’t spicy, and should still taste good. Auntie, why don’t you try some of this?”
The crisp, sliced bell of a flame jellyfish, peeled peanuts, light green celery, and bright orange carrots; Aunt Shen initially tried a bit to give Lin ShuYi some face, but found that even though it wasn’t spicy, it wasn’t any inferior to the numbingly spicy liangfen. Using what seemed to be just a little bit of salt, sugar, and vinegar, with no extra seasonings, the dish still held its original flavors, cool and fresh, crisp and refreshing. Could it be that Aunt Shen had too much western food, and had reached the point where she found any Chinese food delicious?
Actually, this dish did have something particular about it. Although Lin ShuYi didn’t put any visible seasonings, he did add a bit of extra ingredients to adjust the taste. Fresh fish sauce, a bit of soup stock, and the proportion of salt to sugar to vinegar, all these little details contributed to the overall taste of the dish.
Aunt Shen who really just wanted to eat Chinese food really ate her fill all in one sitting. With a wave of her hand, she decided she was going to stay here from now on to continue eating all this good food.
After eating, Shen Fu, who had prepared well in advance, brought Aunt Shen to take a look at his newly constructed house. Aunt Shen was full of endless praise, and was now even more determined to live here. With a house built this pretty, and her nephew’s other half this skilled, it seemed that her decision to return to her home to have her child was the right decision after all.
Only Alan furrowed his brow a little bit. His wife was going to be leaving him, so why did she seem so happy?
It seemed that this husband of the Shen family still didn’t completely understand his foodie wife’s true personality.