2.5 – 2
“My goodness! This is actually delicious!?”
“You really are a rude girl.”
The chef grumbled as Camilla let out a surprised shout the moment she tasted the soup that he had made.
“Suddenly deciding you want to eat Alois’ food out of the blue like that, if I told anyone, you’d be out on your rear.”
Camilla is still someone that the majority of servants either don’t see or purposefully avoid seeing. Even when she tried to talk with them, they’d make excuses and escape. In order to talk with one of the servants just for a bit, she didn’t correct his misunderstanding and pretended to be a maid. Actually acting like one was something else entirely though.
In fact, the chef was actually being unusually tolerant to Camilla who, in the guise of a maid, suddenly told him that she would like to try some of the food he was making for Alois.
But, right now, Camilla didn’t care about something like that.
Inside the pot in front of her was a clear soup. There was only a slight film of fat that covered its surface. Judging by the taste, only salt and pepper had been used for seasoning.
Yet, somehow, it had a delicate sweetness to it. Not to mention a peculiar fragrance. Even though it wasn’t a complicated taste, there was a deepness to it that couldn’t possibly be the result of salt alone.
“…This has been left to stew for some time. You used chicken stock, yes? But just what is this taste? Even though there’s this strange smell, I cannot identify it at all… Ahh, jeez, just what is this!?”
“Of course you won’t get it.”
“Hmph,” the man snorted derisively, but he couldn’t hide the smile on his face. Apparently, he was satisfied with Camilla’s response.
“How could a young lady like you possibly hope to understand my dish? If you could, I would be out of a job.”
Camilla sounded frustrated. She was doubly annoyed at just how insolent the man in front of her was being. It’s true that she couldn’t understand what she didn’t know, but the one thing she could say for sure was that this dish was delicious.
She had been prepared for something inedible because the food was something prepared for Alois, but for some reason, she felt a strange sense of defeat when she tasted it.
“Just what happened from this point on to ruin the taste so much…!?”
The soup was still being prepared. The finishing touches hadn’t yet been applied. Is that when the overwhelming amount of salt is added? But really, who would have expected such a profound taste from such a rough looking cook? After having made it perfectly up until now, just what did this man do to completely spoil it before serving?
As Camilla groaned while rubbing her temples, the man looked confused.
“You new around here by any chance?”
As the man said that, he gave Camilla another assessment. She frowned as the man once again impudently looked her up and down, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“I’m not the one who adds the final seasoning and garnishes. I make the best food I can. I’m indebted to Lord Alois so I could never make him something less than the best.”
“…What do you mean?”
When Camilla asked him that, the man’s face took on a bitter expression. He grimaced as he tried to hide it, but it was futile.
“The best fats, the best sugar, the best salt. The person who leads the family must use it in abundance in excess of anyone else… Dogmatically keeping up with the tradition of the Montchat family, the server must be very busy.”
The man’s name was Günter Brandt.
He was a chef employed by the Montchat family.
He was a cook that Alois himself took a liking to and hired, but it seems that he had his differences with the rest of the house’s servants.
Well, he had a rough appearance and a mouth to match. A man like him would be far better suited to running a restaurant in the town, not preparing dishes for a nobleman day after day.
In fact, he is actually a well known culinary name back in town, though that’s mostly his own claim. ‘I can make any restaurant next door quake with just my voice’, he would brag.
Of course, Camilla didn’t believe a word of it.
“Why does a little girl like you care so much about Alois’ food that you’d come all the way down to a place like this?”
Deciding Camilla was just a harmless nuisance, Günter went back to his lonesome cooking. According to him, he was working on Alois’ meal for morning tea time.
Right now, he was chopping onions finely with his dexterous knife skill. The sound of knife on board echoed through the kitchen that only two people stood in.
“I thought for sure you were one of those maids looking for that guy again. Well, he’s a devil for skipping, so you’re probably better off searching the gardens than looking around here.”
Günter seemed to enjoy talking as his mouth moved just as fast as the knife in his hand. Thanks to his motor mouth, Camilla who was standing behind him was beginning to take stock of the kitchen situation of the manor.
Apparently, all the cooks other than Günter are out around this time of day. There were various reasons for it; some of them were taking their break after cleaning down the kitchen once the breakfast service was over, some were out buying food stock in town, others were around back wringing the necks of chickens for dinner, and the rest were just skipping. Especially this ‘Skipping Devil’, who apparently had incredible skill but a bad attitude and a penchant for women. Apparently, young women often came to the kitchen looking for this Skipping Devil. In fact, Camilla distinctly remembered hearing the maids gossip now and again about a ‘handsome cook’.
“He’s the eldest son of some well-to-do family, and I can’t fault that face of his. He’s pretty bright too. He may be a bit of an arsehole sometimes, but he’s not really a bad guy. For a girl your age, I guess you can’t help but be smitten, huh?”
“I am not interested in the slightest.”
Camilla said that from the bottom of her heart. Camilla wasn’t interested at all, even if he was the most handsome man alive. All her life, Camilla had never cared for another.
So, she expected the same of any man who claimed to care for her.
“What I am more worried about right now is Lord Alois’ meals. I was under the impression that it had been made overly seasoned from beginning to end. So, just why would anyone go out of their way to spoil the meal like that?”
“You’re an honest one, ain’t ya? People will hate you for it, y’know.”
Günter told her that bluntly with a laugh. He really was a rude man. Because he had said it so naturally, Camilla almost forgot to get angry for a moment as she blinked in surprise.
“In particular, people around these parts really hate that. Everyone around here is tied down to their old ways and traditions. Naturally, they get mighty touchy when you question them. This really is a strange place. But, that’s just how it is.”
He turned his neck to glance at Camilla, who still stood behind him. As he looked at her with a slight sense of sympathy in his eyes, Camilla frowned.
“You weren’t born here, am I right? So just what did you do to end up here?”
“I am not guilty of anything at all!”
In her anger, Camilla shouted back. Camilla didn’t feel that she ever did anything wrong, so why should she feel remorseful? Her only regret was, perhaps due to her slightly blinding love for Prince Julian, she didn’t act just a little bit more wisely.
“In the first place, how do you know that I am not from here?”
As Camilla fired back at him, Günter turned back to his cooking, only jerking his thumb in her direction.
“Your hair. There aren’t any black haired aristocratic families around here. The nobles here are very particular about their breeding. They’re always worrying about a criminal’s blood mixing with theirs.”
Camilla repeated those poignant words over again in her mind. It felt like her anger that had begun to burn had been completely extinguished.
Camilla looked at the man as if to try and figure out what he had meant, but Günter’s back provided no clues until he spoke again.
“This land is originally a dumping ground for criminals… Though, that was already long ago.”
She felt a chill up her spine.
Camilla felt like she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. As she struggled to come to terms with it, the sound of the onions being cut up began to reverberate through the kitchen again.
Criminal. A dumping ground. Just how long ago was this?
– Did Prince Julian know?
No, even if he didn’t know, she knew someone who absolutely must have.