Jake woke up feeling refreshed. It was the best sleep he had had in a long time. The stress of the past years had melted away. He was no longer a mortal and he was now on the road of cultivation. This was what he had dreamed about as long as he could remember.
He was a bit hungry so he decided to go get something to eat before he started his day. He stood up and stretched. He walked out to his bathroom and decided to have a quick bath.
After freshening up, he redressed and left his courtyard and headed for the kitchen. When he arrived at the kitchen, he saw the cook, Old Hong. He looked the same as Jake remembered, fat and smiling as well as covered in flour. Jake sneaked up behind him and tickled him on the back of the neck. Old Hong reached back to flick at him, still engrossed in the bread he was making. Jake flicked him again and with a whirl, Old Hong turned around and looked at Jake, grabbing the offending hand.
“It is about time you have to come to see me Little Jake.” Old Hong said with a smile. “Still up to the same tricks I see.”
When Jake was little, he used to sneak up to the cook in the same way.
“Hi Old Hong.” Jake replied. “Is this your famous three grain bread? It has been awhile since I have tasted it.”
“When I heard you were going to live here, I knew you would want my bread.” Replied Old Hong. “It will be ready for lunch so you will have to wait. However, if you look over there you will find something for breakfast. But, give me a hug first; I missed you in my kitchen. The master would not let us contact you and that really burdened my heart.”
Jake gave the old cook a hug, and kissed him on the cheek. He then walked over to the stovetop and looked down. The first thing he saw were some steamed stuffed buns. He grabbed one and quickly stuffed it in his mouth. He closed his eyes and savored the taste. They were filled with his favorite filling, pork and cabbage.
“Your baozi are better then I remember Old Hong.” Said Jake gleefully. “I cannot wait to see what else is here.”
Jake grabbed a plate and put some buns on it. He then looked around and saw a pan of hot and dry noodles. He grabbed some and put it on his plate. He knew that they would be seasoned with garlic chives, pickled vegetables, and chili sauce. This was also his favorite.
“Oh is this jiānbing?” Jake said with saliva starting to run from his mouth. Old Hong made his with an egg, chopped scallions, cilantro, sweet soybean paste, and chili sauce, all wrapped around a crispy wonton wrapper.
“Maybe, I remembered it was Little Lin’s favorite so I made it for her.” Said Old Hong with a grin. “Do not take them all.”
Jake grabbed one and put it on his plate as well. He looked, then saw soymilk, and deep-fried dough sticks. It looked like the sticks were seasoned with preserved mustard root, green onions, chili oil, and vinegar. Jake’s eyes started to tear up. Old Hong had prepared all of his favorites. It really must have taken him a long time this morning. He kept his back to the cook so he could not see his red eyes. He put some on his plate, grabbed a glass of milk, went to the side, and sat down.
He could see that Old Hong’s eyes were red as well. After his parents disappeared, Jake had spent a lot of time here at this villa. Old Hong really made sure that Jake was always well fed and never forgot his favorites.
Jake slowly ate savoring the food and drink quietly watching the old cook make his favorite bread. After finishing Jake looked into his ring and took out the fanciest robe, he had. He then walked over and bowed to Old Hong.
“Old Hong, this is a gift for you.” Said Jake. “I think you will really like it.”
Old Hong looked at Jake and the robe. Jake did not realize it but Old Hong was actually a cultivator, a high-level one at that. He really liked to cook and cooking was part of a cultivation technique he had learned when he was young. He did not want to hurt Jake’s feelings however, so he decided to accept the low-level robe.
“I am honored by this gift Little Jake.” Said Old Hong seriously. “I will wear it at the next celebration. It is really nice and I like the colors and patterns. I do not want to get it dirty so can you lay it over on that shelf?”
Jake was still a newbie when it came to cultivation and did not realize that the higher you were in cultivation, the more specialized clothing you needed. He walked over and lay the robe neatly on the shelf. He then heard a noise behind him and saw Ling Lin coming into the kitchen.
“Ah Little Princess.” Said Old Hong with a smile. “I have prepared many things for your breakfast. That is if Little Jake has not eaten it all”
Ling Lin smiled broadly at Old Hong and glowered at Jake.
“Thank you Grandpa Hong.” She said with a dazzling smile. She came over and kissed him on the cheek.
Since she was young, she treated Old Hong like a member of her family. She walked over, filled her plate almost identically to Jake’s, came over, and sat next to Jake. She daintily started to eat, to the amazement of Jake.
“Hey who are you and what have you done with Lin?” Asked Jake grinning at Little Lin.
“Humph, everyone is not a pig like you.” She retorted. “Wearing your breakfast on your robe.”
Jake looked down at his robe but never saw any stains. He heard the snickers from Ling Lin and Old Hong.
“Hehe, she can still fool you Little Jake.” Said Old Hong with a broad smile. It felt like old times to him having the children in the kitchen again.
“Well at least it is not on my nose like your soymilk.” Retorted Jake.
Ling Lin reached up to rub her nose but stopped halfway. She remembered that this was one of his favorite jokes.
“So are you taking part today Jake?” Ling Lin asked.
“Taking part in what?” Replied Jake.
“This is the monthly rankings for outside disciples.” Replied Ling Lin. “Wang Chunhua has come back to the sect. She has already boasted that she will defeat all comers. She also said that she would make an example of you as well. That it had been a while since she had thrashed you.”
Jake and Wang Chunhua had been friends when they were young and she was as beautiful as Ling Lin was. However, when they started to cultivate she had ignored Jake, and the only contact was at sparring when she always made it a point to beat him, usually quite badly.
Jake gritted his teeth. There were a large number of outer disciples who had beaten him badly and now it was going to be payback time.
“I cannot wait.” Replied Jake with an evil grin on his face. “I doubt that they know that I can cultivate now. We will see who will thrash whom. Hurry up and finish your breakfast, I am now eager to go do the rankings.”
Ling Lin drank the rest of her milk and stood up. She wiped her face with a napkin, quickly rubbing it across her nose as well.
“Thank you Grandpa Hong.” She said with another dazzling smile. “You make the best breakfast, especially the jiānbing. We will see ourselves out.”
Jake bowed and thanked Old Hong as well and followed Ling Lin out of the kitchen.