The Coffee Shop in a Different World Station - Chapter 8.2
Chapter 8 – Rushing In For The Last-Minute Rice (2)
Editor: DelinquentAngel, Lady Black
Takumi led the two passengers from earlier to a room upstairs to change out of their completely
soaked clothes. The other passengers who had been waiting at the coffee shop split up into horse-drawn carriages and headed home, leaving the two alone in the shop. They wiped their wet hair with a large towel Takumi had offered them. They changed into the clothes they had in their bags (some of which were barely wet) and came downstairs.
“No, no, it’s a natural thing to help when someone is in trouble. I’m sure your body is completely cold, so please, warm up with a cup of coffee.”
Takumi invited them to sit at the table when they were done dressing and came down. He offered them cinnamon coffee that he had warmed in advance. Seeing the two people dressed a little rougher than before, Takumi sensed that they might be younger than he had thought.
The man wore a blue jacket in the style of work clothes. He still looked somewhat innocent and seemed young. The woman also looked more childish than his earlier impression. Perhaps, it was because she changed into a loose-fitting, high-waisted, long dress.
“By the way, what do you want to do after this, sir? If you’re going home, I’ll arrange for another carriage for you, but…”
They stared at each other in silence for a while as Takumi spoke softly to them. Then, the man began to speak, with pauses in between.
”Actually, we can’t… leave…”
The woman then continued to speak.
“Yes, that’s right. If I leave… we can’t… be together anymore…”
They both looked serious as if their lives were about to end. Takumi quietly waited for them to continue. There was a moment of silence again. Eventually, the man looked at Takumi as if he’d made up his mind and spoke what was on his mind.
“I know it may be very inconvenient for you if I ask this, but could you please let us wait here until the first train leaves tomorrow?… or better yet, a bench on the station platform! Could you please, please, please?”
The woman also stared at Takumi as if to match the man’s words. Takumi, who was looked at seriously by the both of them, hesitated for a moment. In the end, he smiled and replied.
“It can’t be helped. There’s an empty room on the second floor, so I will make arrangements for you to stay there. Would you like to join us for dinner, too?”
“Really? Thank you!”
Takumi’s words brought them joy. The young couple looked at one another and took each other’s hands to express their happiness. As Takumi gazed at them for a while, they seemed to notice his gaze. In a somewhat flustered manner, they fixed themselves and began to make a formal introduction.
”Come to think of it, we didn’t even greet you properly. I’m very sorry. My name is Serio, and this is…”
“My name is Emma. Thank you so much for your hospitality.”
The breathless greeting between the two of them reminded Takumi that the beauty was young. He also introduced himself.
“I’m Takumi, the assistant station master, and owner of the coffee shop. In times of trouble, we are both in the same boat, so please don’t hesitate to stay with us. Oh yes, I would be happy to prepare a meal for the evening, but is there anything you don’t like?”
“Well…no, not really. Emma isn’t allergic to anything either, is she?”
“Yeah, I’m fine too.”
“Very well. It’s going to be a simple meal, but we’ll now prepare dinner for you. Please, make yourself comfortable in your room until then. Hey, Nyan-chi! If you can spare a moment, can you show our guests to the upper room?”
Takumi also called out to Nyan-chi, who was cleaning around the counter. He got a usual cheerful voice in response.
“It can’t be helped! Should I get a bath for you, too?”
“Yes. Well, could you do me a favor?”
“Sure! First of all, I’ll take the two of you to your rooms. We’ll take care of your luggage too.”
“You say your name is Nyan-chi? My name is Emma. Thank you for your help today, I hope we’ll get along.”
“Of course! It’s nice to meet you too!”
Nyan-chi and Emma seemed to have bonded quickly through the exchange of luggage. As they watched on the side, Serio spoke to Takumi, shrinking his back a bit.
”I’m sorry for everything. Uhhm, please take care of us for the night.”
“It may not be as good as home, but I hope you’ll enjoy it. I’ll see you later.”
Takumi walked into the kitchen. He returned the words calmly to relieve Serio’s mind. The rain outside was seen through the window. It seemed to have calmed down a bit.
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Takumi wrapped a black café apron around his waist as usual and began to prepare dinner for four people. Even though it’s not business hours, the people he serves were still his “customers”. Therefore, Takumi wanted to provide them with “proper food” rather than the usual random bribes.
(The problem is the ingredients. What was leftover…)
The weather has been stormy since morning, the ingredients they were able to stock up on were limited. The garde (not a typo but maybe he mean guard?) brought us only milk, cheese, and chicken for the morning meal.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stock up on vegetables that were in season this time of the year because they couldn’t be harvested in the field. As a result, the vegetables we could only use were limited to the root vegetables; tomatoes, cebolla (onions), and patata (potatoes) that we have on hand.
(Well, I could still transform it into one form or another…)
He entered the pantry and folded his arms in front of the ingredients, pondering. From Takumi’s past experience, there were several menu items that he could think of if it was simply a delicious meal. However, judging by the circumstances of today’s “guests”, she couldn’t be in the mood to simply be served a “delicious” meal.
(It might be a little nosy, but I want to make a menu that will make these two young people look at themselves again… )
Takumi narrowed down the menu to one of the items that came to mind and started to prepare the meal.
(There’s enough rice left. Let’s use up the tomatoes, onions, and also the chicken here.)
Takumi cut off the top and bottom of the cebolla from the pantry. He then halved it lengthwise and peeled the skin off. After making a fine cut lengthwise, he cut horizontally as well and chop it up. It was Takumi’s style to chop it up as finely as possible without discarding the edges. Soak the chopped cebolla in a bowl of salted water and let them sit for a while.
In the meantime, he chopped the chicken and cheese into small pieces, and then drained the chopped cebolla in the brine in a colander. Takumi placed a medium-sized copper pot on the stovetop of a preheated oven stove and slowly melted more butter in it. As the white butter turned to a clear liquid, he added the chopped cebolla and fried it slowly.
This was a process that requires careful attention because if the heat was too high, the cebolla would burn and color in the pot. Stirring it carefully, the chopped cebolla gradually became transparent as it absorbed the butter and cooked through the heat.
Then, when the chopped cebolla was sufficiently soaked in butter, the chopped chicken was thrown in. When the chicken was added, Takumi lightly sautéed the chicken, seasoning it with salt and pepper. He then removed the pan from the oven when it was cooked to some extent.
Takumi threw the Arroz (rice) that he had cooked for lunch into the copper pot. As he quickly cut it with a wooden spatula to mix the Arroz with the ingredients, the fat from the butter and chicken blends into the Arroz.
When the whole thing was greasy and moist, he threw in half of the homemade tomato sauce, which was both spicy and sweet, into the grated tomatoes and cebolla. He cooked it down with sugar, salt, vinegar, red wine, and spices.
Takumi quickly mixed it and let the flavors come together.
(Now we just need to transfer this to a plate…)
Takumi prepared four oval gratin plates and spread them with the ingredients with the sauce added. He placed the tomato sauce that he had left earlier on top of the arose rice, with a generous dollop of chopped cheese on top of it.
At this stage of preparation, Takumi put his hand in the lower section of the oven stove to check the temperature inside.
(Yes, the temperature was just right.)
After checking the oven’s temperature, Takumi arranged the four gratin plates on an iron plate and put them inside the oven. He turns over the largest of the hourglass on the kitchen table and started measuring the time it took to bake.
While waiting for them to finish cooking, he made a garnish that was sweet and sour. It was a dressing* made of shredded, salted, and softened Sanaoia (carrots) with limon (lemon) juice, colza (rapeseed) oil, and sugar.
Finally a special Sanaoia and Pasas salad with a sprinkling of Pasas (dried grapes or raisins or dates). Takumi prepared it and reheated the bacon and repolyo (cabbage) soup that he made for lunch.
[TLNote: Dressing is not about clothes. He meant salad dressing of some sort. Also, the references could be found on the internet so you would know it’s a real thing in real life. I also wrote what it is beside the item)]
(It’s time to call the two.)
Takumi checked the hourglass to see how long it would take for the food to finish cooking. He then called out Serio, Emma, and Nyan-chi to come downstairs. From the stairs, he could hear them coming down along with the usual pattering of Nyan-chi’s footsteps. Sensing their arrival, Takumi began to put the finishing touches on today’s dinner.
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“Thank you for your patience. The plates are very hot. Please be careful not to touch them.”
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