Chapter 226: Culinary Edification
So it was that Lan Jue had his assistant teacher squared away. It was a good deal, for teaching mecha combat wasn’t an easy task. He’d thought over the situation last night, and came to the determination that it would be quite troublesome to teach the class entirely by himself. It was true that the mecha combat department had other teachers, but their knowledge base was woefully insufficient for what he needed. Wang Hongyuan was best suited for the position.
It wasn’t a farce, telling Wang Hongyuan that he would be learning as well. However, speaking was an art form – had he approached Hongyuan directly about being his teaching assistant, the chances of him refusing the offer was high. He’d fear for his own secrets, which he’d fought hard to keep concealed.
His method had solved the problem before it’d even become one. In fact, Wang Hongyuan was thankful for the opportunity. As for Lan Jue, he felt much more positive about the whole ordeal. If he was going down, he was taking someone with him – it made it a less bitter pill to swallow.
It was time again for another etiquette class. This time, however, there were clearly much fewer students than the last time. Around half of last class’ students were present.
It was a shameful display! Certainly the students felt similarly.
This Professor Lan was too irresponsible, they lamented. It had been ages since anyone had even seen him. There was certainly an attraction to the class, but likewise his extended absence made attendance difficult to maintain. Of course, there was also another reason why there were so few students today.
The NEU allowed all of their students to enroll in mecha combat as an elective. However, those who chose to do so were required to pay an extra fee. After all, resources were needed to teach the class. Suits, mechas, weaponry and more needed to be made available to the students.
The NEU’s bizarre and brazen defeat of their rivals, Lir University, had made mecha combat the flavor of the day. Suddenly, everyone wanted to become a god-ranked pilot. It was almost impossible to get in to the Savage Goddess’ class anymore. It was no surprise, then, that there were so few still willing to pay out for an etiquette class.
Zhou Qianlin was among them, and she’d arrived early to participate. Tang Mi was at her side, as usual. She’s accidentally told her long-legged companion that Professor Lan was holding another class. Once Tang Mi knew that, their afternoon was booked without question.
Originally, Zhou Qianlin had no intention of attending. She had quite a lot of class work to finish. But, she recalled Lan Jue’s conspiratorial tone this morning, when he claimed there would be fine foods on offer today. Eat a light lunch, he’d urged.
Zhou Qianlin knew that, when Lan Jue said there would be good food, he wasn’t lying. She knew his taste. And what girl didn’t like a fine meal? She decided to see what he was talking about.
Even though the numbers were still woefully small by comparison, Qianlin and Tang Mi’s presence brought a fair few more than there would have been otherwise.
The seat beside Tang Mi was occupied by her brother. Tang Xiao was still enjoying his status as the hero of the NEU. Suddenly his weight didn’t matter, as was evident by the more than one hundred love letters he’d already received 1. The veritable cloud of smugness that followed him made it clear how he felt about the matter. It fueled his evening masochistic beatings.
Suffering now leads to success in the future! Tang Xiao repeated the words to himself every day, a mantra to keep him on track.
The moment Lan Jue walked in to the room, everyone’s attention instantly focused on him. The reason was his unconventional dress.
Today, it was a snow-white chef’s uniform; the white double-breasted jacket, the white pants, the apron, and the toque to top it all off.
“What’s all this about?” Tang Xiao followed his instructor with his eyes, confused at what he was seeing. It was like a cartoon…
Once their make-shift chef arrived at the podium, he turned and waved his hand toward the door. From outside, a group of people shuffled in to the classroom. They set up a large, circular table at the front of the class.
Lan Jue spoke. “Alright everyone, gather round. Give space. Make room in the middle. I hope you all didn’t get too full at lunch, otherwise I’m afraid you might regret it.”
Tang Mi poked Zhou Qianlin, seated quietly at her side. “What’s going on?”
“How am I supposed to know,” Zhou Qianlin muttered.
It ended up being a blessing to have so few students today. Twenty-something, and that was all. It was a small enough class that they could all comfortably gather near the front.
At Lan Jue’s instruction, the students pulled their chairs close and found a place around the expansive table.
“So you treating us to a meal, Professor?” Tang Mi couldn’t help but ask.
Lan Jue smiled at her. “I suppose, something like that. An understanding of fine cuisine is an integral part of etiquette. Today, I’m going to teach you about Ma La Tang…”
Zhou Qianlin began to pay more attention after his introduction. Lan Jue had taken her suggestions, and instead of sticking to subjects beyond the ken of these middle-class students, he’d chosen something more accessible. This way a far more practical subject to learn about.
One’s sense of taste was certainly the strongest! It was as good a place as any to start. It was a dish he’d requested from the Gourmet, since he couldn’t create such a masterpiece himself.
Zhou Qianlin couldn’t remember a time she’d been this full. She felt absolutely inundated with the fresh, spicy flavor of the meal. She could still feel it on her tongue. Her face was red from the heal of it, and she took sips of cold water between panting breaths. She noted, with some amusement, that her lips were numb.
Despite her discomfort, though, she was better off than the others.
Tang Mi was leaning against the back of her chair, groaning intermittently. She thought she had a formidable appetite, but it had only been two hours since her big lunch, and this was twice as much. It was too delicious for her to pass up. Too delicious for her to stop eating!
But Tang Xiao was the most entertaining to watch. The unfortunate chair beneath his groaned and creaked with effort. And then broke to pieces, to the delight and surprise of a laughing classroom.
“Alright. Now, I hope you all have a good idea of what real Ma La Tang tastes like. That’s all for today’s class, next time we’ll have something new to discuss.” Lan Jue could see the satisfaction on his students’ faces. Today’s class was a successful one.
Once class was finished, he stepped out. Jin Yan was waiting for him.
“Ah, Professor Lan. I’m late! Class is over, isn’t it. I was covering a class this afternoon. What did you talk about today? What’s that wonderful smell?” Her nose scrunched adorably as she sniffed the air, filling her nostrils with the heady scent.
Lan Jue thrust his thumb over his shoulder towards the class. “There should still be some left. You should go in and try some, Professor Jin. Tang Mi, tell Professor Jin about Ma La Tang.” With Jin Yan passed off, Lan Jue turned and left. He’d hired the workers to clean up once everyone was finished, so he didn’t have to.
Ten minutes later, there was one more poor soul groaning from their poor self-control.
Lan Jue was still clad in the aromatic chef’s uniform when he returned to the electives office. He found a spot to change his clothes.
“Professor Lan. Five o-clock this afternoon you’re teaching, right? What’s the subject matter?” Wang Hongyuan was suddenly at his side, quietly pushing him for answers.