Chapter 630: A Flower on the Cliff (8)
Min-joon dipped a chicken stick in the sauce placed in the center of the plate and ate it, then gave a slightly puzzled expression. He tasted something he hadn’t even thought of. Obviously, what Peter explained to him about the sauce was that he made it with a mixture of cinnamon, cilantro, and soy sauce. But Min-joon tasted something different in this sauce that Peter didn’t mention. Each taste of oregano, basil, garam masala, turmeric, c.u.min and paprika was revived in his mouth. More precisely, it was not revived suddenly right now.
So Min-joon turned to Kaya and asked, “Did you already notice it?”
“I noticed it in a couple of dishes before this one,” she replied with a mischievous smile.
He clasped his forehead with both hands. He felt utterly humiliated.
It was not that he didn’t notice the combination of Peter’s course. Actually, Peter made the dishes one by one for this moment. He filled each dish with the spices that made up masala, so that the moment they relished in its aftertaste, they could figure out why he combined the ingredients to the effect that they mesh with masala perfectly.
The lingering taste in Min-joon’s mouth, which he was constantly uncomfortable with, became something like a fuse that exploded all the gunpowder at this moment. When he chewed chicken, he could once again taste the flavor of the spices lingering in the mouth. He felt as if he was eating the perfect chicken tikka masala right now.
When Min-joon found out the secret, other chefs showed the same reaction. In fact, according to Peter’s plan, it was normal for them to find out his secret at this point. Kaya could be called a monster because she already noticed it even before others did it belatedly.
At that moment, Min-joon recalled what he felt keenly in the past, which was that he could peek into the unfettered freedom of ideas in those amateur cooks who were not as competent as professional chefs like him. And he could confirm it once again in Peter’s cooking.
“Do you know how Jewish lawyers became the powerhouses in mergers and acquisitions?” Min-joon asked in a low voice.
Joseph replied with a smile, “Jewish lawyers were discriminated against in existing law firms. So they had no choice but to unite themselves, and as a result, they began to take any cases. In the meantime, they even took charge of mergers and acquisitions that traditional lawyers looked down on.”
“So, when there was a merger and acquisition boom, Jewish lawyers dominated the M&R market. So much so that other lawyers could not intervene. In some respects, such disadvantages turned into advantages for them.”
Joseph knew what Min-joon wanted to say. He looked at Peter. He didn’t show any nervousness while there was some fuss over his erratic cooking among the judges and invited cooks as if he already expected this kind of thing would happen.
Perhaps it was because of the th.o.r.n.y road he had been walking that he could stay calm and composed right now. For he could not even take one step if he frowned and made a fuss every time he took a step. If he suffered, it was just his punishment, but his punishment could drive him out of the goal of victory in this compet.i.tion. But his disadvantage generated a favorable condition for him. Since he kept a low profile, he could stand out now.
Since he had been in the darkest place, he was s.h.i.+ning now, ironically.
He was like a flower that bloomed on a cliff without any single gra.s.s, so its petals were even more beautiful now.
The last dish Peter brought to them was masala ice cream. Since he already brought out the taste of all the major ingredients that made up masala so far, the masala ice cream that he brought out last kept the unique flavor of masala intact without hiding it in the slightest way. “Good job, Peter,” Min-joon said. He wanted to acknowledge Peter’s work by praising him because he understood and felt fully how much Peter pondered over this dish.
Peter said, “In fact, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, not just this week.”
Only then did Min-joon understood that this was too good a dish for Peter to come up with in a week. Min-joon was surprised that Peter had been thinking about setting up a full course all the time. Was he expecting to advance to the finals, or was he always dreaming of his own full course, aside from this compet.i.tion?
Actually, that was something Peter had been thinking about for a while. While he was dreaming of his own full course, he often wondered why he was occupied with such useless things. Maybe that was some sort of defense mechanism for him. When he was faced with countless accusations from the netizens on the internet, there was only one way he could deny them.
He had to believe that he was not a dumb chef.
So, he thought of a myriad of good dishes he could make to persuade himself that he was not a dumb chef. Occasionally, he wished he could create a dish that even rivaled Cho Reggiano, earning acclaim from many people. And he even wished he could boast of his skills by presenting his full course now before the judges and invited chefs.
But his imagination was childish like a child who was imagining flying in the sky. If his imagination was any better than a child’s delusion, he didn’t end up just nursing delusions.
He constantly thought of dishes that would satisfy his imagination. It wasn’t because he liked cooking. It was because he could build his broken self-esteem only by doing so.
Finally, he rebuilt his self-esteem. Of course, the judges and invited chefs didn’t look up to him as much as he expected, but at least they were freshly shocked by his cooking.
‘Well, I think I’ve shown them enough,’ Peter thought to himself.
Of course, there were lots of racist comments among the malicious comments about him posted on the internet. They even tried to swear at Peter, citing that he was Indian. That was why he tried to infuse something Indian into his dish wherever he could. Why? Because he wanted to persuade them with the very thing that made them look down on him.
And his persistent efforts to that effect made Peter enjoy the status of those Jewish lawyers during the 1950s.
“What do you think?”
Joseph asked Min-joon about Peter’s dish.
Min-joon was lost in thoughts for a moment. Peter’s dish was never bad. Rather, it was fresh and creative. But when somebody asked him if he liked it, he could not say yes confidently because Peter’s cooking was unfinished.
Maybe someone could ask him if Peter’s cooking was not unfinished, but just different from others. They might ask him if Peter’s dish was good enough if they could enjoy it while feeling the process of getting the flavors of masala one by one.
To be honest, Min-joon did not know how to answer Joseph’s question. He was not sure if he agreed with what others might have asked like that. Anyway, it was a difficult question for him to answer right now.
The reason was simple. It was because it was almost the first time he saw somebody try this kind of dish. Of course, chefs usually pay attention to the harmony of taste of the dishes before and after the full course. For example, they made sure the garnish should not overlap, or rather have it overlapped.
However, the way Peter took care of this dish was clearly different from what Min-joon used to be familiar with because Peter’s dish basically brought out the familiar taste of a dish by gradually intensifying the taste of its ingredients. That was why Min-joon could point out even if Peter’s dish was lacking in something, for it could be his limit, not his best. In short, Peter showed a full course that built on reviving the flavor of masala gradually. Min-joon wondered if there could be a more perfect full course like this.
If there was none, it meant that Peter’s dish was worthy enough and great as it was.
Kaya muttered, “Man, he served us a perfect chicken.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you remember when Peter missed the ball?”
Only then could he recall one episode. Peter once had a big quarrel with Kaya while making tandoori chicken breast, but this time, Peter showed that he improved further by cooking tandoori mackerel. And now, he confirmed his message by presenting a main dish featuring chicken breast.
“He’s a cool guy,” Min-joon said with a smile.
Kaya didn’t bother to deny it. To be honest, Kaya also thought Peter was cool. He really worked hard. If she had been driven to a situation where people around her hated her, she wondered if she could hold on her own firmly like Peter.
‘Gosh, I thought he wasn’t that type of guy.’
She even felt guilty for him. She took the last bite of masala ice cream in her mouth. It was delicious, and she was sorry for him as much as she felt it was delicious. She believed that she played a role in making him come as far as here, after all.
“Peter,” she called him.