The Table of the Revontulet Family
The time period is few months after returning to the remote village from Sieg’s house.
Disclaimer — May induce hunger. (Though that might have been obvious from the chapter title…)
Today, apparently a merchant that is rarely seen has come to town to sell various goods.
Sieg told me after she returned from her stroll with Arno.
“Well, there wasn’t anything special.”
There were alcohol, fruits, spices and goods that weren’t available here, but for Sieg who came from abroad nothing caught her attention.
But then, an unexpected person entered the fray.
“Waa, Ritchan, mum wants to see the goods~!”
“Let’s go together?”
Mother said that she wanted to go see the peddler, so I ended up accompanying her.
“My, amazing! Ritchan, look look~”
“Okay, I am looking.”
I wonder why she is being so happy over shopping, I thought a little disheartedly.
“Excuse me~ this~ and this~”
Crouching down, mother browsed through the goods and showed them to the merchant. The large basket I brought from home quickly filled up.
“You’re buying a lot.”
“Yes. Since I want to feed everyone nice food!”
Maybe it was almost time to close up, since the merchant started organising his goods.
“Huh, these are,”
In buckets with salt water, there were black clams. There were four such buckets.
“Iya, I failed. The people here don’t eat clams.”
“Ah~ now that you say it, I think we don’t.”
The merchant brought the clams since they might sell, but the people of the forest did not take interest in them. I’ve eaten the black clams that did not sell at grandfather’s place, so I have seen them before.
“How about it? I’ll sell four buckets at the price of one.”
Buying four buckets with the price of one bucket, what a great deal.
I returned after hearing the cooking method from the merchant.
After returning home, it was time to cook clams.
“For starters, why don’t I steam one bucketful with alcohol.”
“Ritchan, mussel soup is pretty nice as well.”
Why, mother knew the name of these clams. Apparently she tried them on her travels around the world.
“Then, I’ll be steaming the mussels.”
First, we started by scrubbing the mussel shells. Since they are cooked with the shells still on, the merchant said that this process is important.
“Debeard the mussels, or so was said.”
“The weedy things on the shells, I wonder.”
The beard were quite strong. Apparently, they are used by the mussels to cling onto surfaces. They came off easily by tracing the line of the shells.
The cleaned mussels were piled up into a container, then we focused on cooking.
Olive oil was applied to a pot then herbs and crushed garlic was fried. When a fragrant smell rose up, mussels were put in. The pot lid is shut, then after a while white wine is poured. It’s finished once the mussel shells open.
Finally, I sprinkled dried herbs. When I was about to serve them out on dishes, mother stopped me.
“It’s okay to serve them in the pot.”
Apparently they serve them in pots in stores.
As a finishing touch, thinly sliced lemons were placed in.
“Ah, just a bit.”
I was stopped for the second today.
Mother asked me for some of the broth that came out from the clam.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“I’m going to make Arno-chan’s meal~”
Since the taste is strong, the broth is watered down. Then, it’s boiled with rice in a strong fire until the rice becomes soupy to make mussel-flavoured baby food.
In another pot, mussel cream soup was being made. That looked tasty as well.
I placed the dishes on the table and called Sieg who was bathing Arno over.
For Arno, I put on a warm fur coat so that he won’t catch a cold, then I cradled him.
“Arno, grandma is making something tasty for you~”
Now that he was weaning, Arno could eat solid matter. Though he could still only eat things that were boiled until they became soft.
I took a spoonful and tasted it. —Nn, okay, it’s not too hot, and the flavour is not too strong.
After confirming it, I carried the spoon to Arno’s mouth.
“Is it good? That’s nice.”
Arno’s stomach became full and the dish became empty, so his mealtime is over. I then fed him diluted fruit juice, but since we needed to eat as well I laid him in a basket with a blanket.
“——Now then, bon appétit.”
After talking to mother and Sieg who were watching Arno’s mealtime, we started our dinnertime.
First, I tried the steamed mussels. I speared the mussel with a fork and carried it to my mouth.
The mussel was condensed with flavour and was elastic, and biting into it made a soup with deep flavour flow out. The flavour of the wine was there slightly, so the soup remaining in the shell was delicious as well.
“Ritchan, Linde-chan, try removing the mussel with the shell.”
By using a used shell, the mussels were separated from their shells much easier than using forks. Apparently people in other countries all ate like this.
The soup mother made was great too.
The mussel soup had a rich flavour, and went well with rye bread.
Sieg was also happy, saying, “It’s the first time I had mussels this delicious.”
The mussels were delicious.
We discussed about preserving the rest.
The next day.
We processed the rest of the mussels.
Like yesterday, the shells are scrubbed clean then steamed in a pot with oil and wine.
Once the mussels opened, the flesh was cut off while the heat from cooking still remained.
The cooked mussels are then dipped in a pickling liquid made with spices, berries, salt, old molasses, saltpetre, water and alcohol, after which it was left in a cold storeroom for few hours.
The mussels that were marinated for half a day were then washed to remove the salt.
Once the moisture was removed with a cloth, they were then dried outside overnight. The next day, fragrant oil was applied then the mussels were smoked with the open shell facing downwards.
Having been exposed to the smoke for several hours, the mussel became firm.
I showed the finished smoked mussels to Sieg.
“You made quite an amazing thing.”
I felt that we were both thinking that it could go well with alcohol.
It was still afternoon. Too early to be drinking.
We decided that we will enjoy the mussels at night then worked hard for the afternoon.
I also told mother to make soup using the smoked mussels.
Dinner and baths were over, and we put Arno to sleep. Therefore, we brought out the smoked mussels and white wine.
“It’s been a long time since we had a drink.”
Since Arno had become the centre of our life, we did not have the time to drink like this.
I opened the bottle of high-quality wine that grandfather left. I made sure to remove sediments like I was taught and then poured the wine into a glass.
After saying our impressions on the alcohol, we reached out for the mussels. Since it was smoked with the shells still, it was easy to eat.
The smoked mussels I had made just today had a dense flavour, to describe it with one phrase.
The flavour was even more condensed than the steamed mussels and the more I chewed, the sweeter the mussels became. It went down well since it had a salty-spicy flavour, and in addition it went well with alcohol. It was the first time that I almost thought I liked dry wine.
“I think these would sell if you put them on sale.”
Sieg was satisfied as well.
“It really is different when using the pickling liquid I had learned to make from father-in-law.”
“Is that so?”
“Yup. Clearly different.”
The smoking method I learned from father-in-law helped even here. So much that I somewhat reflected that the method that I had been using was spoiling the flavour.
Making goods is an ever deep field.
I thought that it would be nice to continue living a this prosperous life, making use of various knowledge I learned from father-in-law.
Random trivia: In Korea, when you go to street vendors and order alcohol, they serve boiled mussels as a basic side dish to go with the alcohol.