It was now Wednesday afternoon and the group were getting ready to go to the mess hall for food. They decided that they would eat food before they would go to Jin Yuan's class.
They were waiting in a queue at the mess hall when a voice called them over. "Yo kids, get your butts over here!"
Shang Yang smacked her face and dragged it down when she realised who it was. "Yeah yeah, we're coming."
The other students were staring at them and Jin Yuan wondering why a teacher would call for some random students that they've never seen. They quickly went back to talking to each other once the group left their sight.
Shang Yang was not amused. "Why'd you call us out? We were going to get some food so that we wouldn't starve when we are in your lessons."
Jin Yuan had a mischievous smile on his face as he beckoned the group towards him. "I'm working right now, don't you want to be able to skip that queue and eat my very fresh food? It'd be much more beneficial and tastier that way. Most of the food that's displayed is warm but not hot. What do you say?"
Shi Die poked Shang Yang and had an adorable expression on his face. "I want to taste his fresh food! He's a spirit cook and if the food that we take is already cold but tastes so delicious... I can imagine the taste just thinking about it."
Shang Yang shook her head fondly at the dreamy look Shi Die was showing. "Fine, but don't you have to serve the other students."
"Bah, there are other Spirit cooks here as well. I'm not the only person who can cook well. I'm just the highest ranking Spirit cook here. I can just hand over my work to some of the lower ranking spirit cooks. It doesn't matter if the food tastes different. Most of the students here only care about the benefits that they can gain from eating the food."
Shang Yang stuck her tongue out at Jin Yuan. "I care about the taste and the benefits. If I must have one then I have to have another.“
Jin Yuan raised his eyebrow at her. "What a greedy person. That's what I like. You should continue to be greedy but please do know the limits of being greedy. There are times and places for being greedy and there are other times where you should know to stop yourself. Knowing this line would help you when you get to the higher echelons of society." He gave his advice for the future.
"Okay, tell me what you guys want to eat. Make it hard and surprise me. If you manage to name something that I have no idea how to cook then I'll give you guys something beneficial for cultivation. Doesn't that sound great?"
Shang Yang smirked. "I know a lot of exotic foods, are you sure you want to test me on what foods I can force you to make?"
"There are not many foods that I don't know about but you can test your luck." Jin Yuan taunted Shang Yang.
She started to glare at him and sparks could be seen flying between their eyes. "Challenge accepted, old man."
"I'm not old!" The old man waited for the kid's orders. He sincerely doubted that they would be able to name a food that he'd never prepared or known before. He had tasted and made all kinds of food on his journey around the regions. It was what had helped raise him into a Third rank Spirit Cook.
Shang Yang and Xiao Tu didn't really want to spend too much effort on thinking on what to eat so they decided to go along with whatever Shi Die would ask Jin Yuan to cook.
Shang Yang announced. "I want you to cook Spirit Leaf wine-braised pork chops."
Shi Die told Jin Yuan what he and the guys wanted. "The three of us would like you to cook three servings of Bak Kut Teh."
Jin Yuan smiled at Shang Yang in a condescending way. "Ah, Spirit Leaf wine-braised pork chops you say? That'll be simple, I'll make that immediately. Don't worry boys I heard your order, I'll get there when I finish with hers first."
The group watched Jin Yuan take out several ingredients from his dimensional storage and started his preparation for Shang Yang's food. The meat was stripped bare, cleaned before immediately working on mixing the ingredients he needed for the braising. He took out a wine bottle and smiled at Shang Yang "Thought I wouldn't have one of these did you?" He continued his work on the mixture before placing the pork chops into the mixture and placed it into the oven powered by Qi stones.
Shi Die looked slightly nervous, "Sir, are you sure you want to cook foods with alcoholic content?"
Jin Yuan waved his hands at Shi Die's concerns. "Consuming foods with alcoholic content won't make you drunk so it's fine. Also, your request is something I've never even heard of so I don't know how to make it. Mind telling me the method of how you make this Bak Kut Teh you spoke of?"
Shi Die smiled before telling him the instructions on how to cook the several dishes of Bak Kut Teh. He knew that he had managed to win the competition that Jin Yuan had set for them.
Jin Yuan was listening intently to the instructions of how to make Bak Kut Teh and was actually surprised in the many steps and different dishes that combine together to make Bak Kut Teh actually taste good. He continued to listen so that he could learn more about this interesting dish.
After the instructions were given, Jin Yuan tried his best to prepare the food for the three boys. He placed the clay pots onto the tables and asked them to start eating. "By the way, none of these foods are Qi infused. This is because I want you to see the difference between a well-cooked meal without any Qi infused into them to a meal which solely consists of fine cooking and Qi infusion. You may begin eating."
Shang Yang savoured the taste of the pork chops and she knew that she had lost this round. Not only did he know how to cook such an obscure dish in the region, he also had the wine to cook it in the first place. She knew that her father had paid quite a bit of money to get a single bottle of that wine when he visited that small secluded city in the mountains once.
"Hmmph, you've won this time old man. I didn't that you'd have visited such an obscure place." Shang Yang admitted her defeat.
"I wouldn't have thought a young girl like you would've even known about the wine or the dish. Do you come from that secluded city? I don't see many children of this age travelling around too much because they spend that time to cultivate." Jin Yuan asked intrigued.
"My father brought me to all sorts of places from when I was 7 years old. I can cultivate pretty quickly so I can keep up with most of my peers. It also helps that not spending my entire time training didn't make it a boresome thing for me. If I trained all the time like these boys over here do, then I'd probably collapse from exhaustion and boredom. I really dislike monotonous activities but I still do them in order to improve."
Jin Yuan nodded. "A good mindset." He looked at the boys eating his first trial at the food they had asked for. "You should try to at least adopt some of her mindset. Take some time to relax and enjoy life. Cultivation shouldn't be the only thing on your mind until you've become a boring old man. By the way, how's the taste? I wasn't quite sure of the way to blend some of the herbs and spices into the soup but I've tried my best."
Shi Die nodded his head. "I've never actually tried it before either but it's definitely good. I only learned about this dish from reading some of the obscure books that Ye Xiu had."
Jin Yuan looked at Ye Xiu with curiosity. "May I borrow these obscure cooking books of yours? It might give me the motivation to ascend past the third rank of Spirit Cooks. I get lots of motivation from trying and making new foods. It gives me a reason to improve."
Ye Xiu thought for a moment. "I'll lend them to you in exchange as payment for offering us those lessons in cooking. Though I'm not sure how much those books would be able to help you." Ye Xiu was thinking of the books. 'I'm very sure that the books that Shi Die took were on just normal food cooking methods that were in the library. I haven't seen him take or read anything on the Spirit Cooking section.'
Jin Yuan shook his head. "No that'll be enough, for me learning about new foods is definitely worth the price of me teaching the four of you my skills. It'll be even better if I managed to break through with these books. I also won't renege on my deal if at least one of you have the potential for Spirit Cooking."
They quickly finished their meal and helped clean up their bowls that they had eaten with. Jin Yuan went back to cooking for the other students.
The group were just lounging around in the private eating area waiting and talking to each other when a person came in and tried to shoo them out. "What are students doing in here? Get out this is a private area for people invited inside. I don't know how you managed to get in here but you aren't allowed here."
Shang Yang narrowed her eyes at the person trying to rudely force them out of the room. "Excuse me, we were invited into the room by a teacher who goes by the name of Jin Yuan. What right do you have to force us out of the room? For all we know, you aren't even authorised to come in here either."
The man looked at Shang Yang with a disgusted face. "I'm sorry, I'm a Spirit Cook of the first rank hired by the academy. I probably have more qualifications than you to be in this room. I sincerely doubt that you would personally know the highest ranking Spirit Cook in the academy. If you are so bad at lying then don't try to lie in the first place!"
The offended look on Shang Yang was funny to the three boys. "You think being a first rank Spirit Cook means you can be all high and mighty? Well, sorry to burst your bubble mister. I'm a rank two alchemist with my friend right here. We outrank you! You can't pull rank on us if we have a higher rank than you." She flashed her Alchemist badge at the guy's face before continuing her tirade.
"If you wanted us to move from the room then you'd have been much more polite and given us a clear reason to why we should leave. I gave you a reason for why we were in here and you should've investigated it from there. You could've gone to find Jin Yuan to confirm that we are indeed people that have or haven't been allowed access to the room."
As she finished her verbal assault, Jin Yuan popped his head around the corner of the door to see what was going on. "What's with all the shouting. I could hear you guys from outside. Keep it down." He narrowed his eyes when he spotted the man. "What did I tell you about being here Jin Tian? Are you trying to flaunt your position again? Just because you're my nephew doesn't mean you can just abuse that position."
"Get out of the room and don't taunt my students again. If I catch you, I'll have you do menial labour for the whole year."
The man left the room quickly after Jin Yuan's scolding and Jin Yuan sat down on one of the chairs.