The bamboo basket swayed as they paraded through the village. When the village children saw them, they all followed from afar, while the adults in the village smiled warmly at them.
Occasionally, one or two elderly people would walk by and speak in a dialect that was difficult to understand. They would hold either eggs or vegetables and try to give them to the two monks. A staff member following behind would laugh and say, “You two chanted the sutras so well earlier that they now see you and your shidi as their lucky charms.”
Actually, it was mainly because the two brothers happened to strike a chord with the locals. People always have different attitudes toward things or people related to faith. No wonder those elderly people always wanted to give them food, even though they knew they were monks who had returned to secular life.
Lian Qing felt embarrassed and rejected the peanuts given to him by an elderly person, fearing that he would be offered more food. He could only lower his head and quicken his pace.
The bamboo basket continued to sway until it reached the doorstep of their home, where it finally stopped. The tiny monk, Xiao Sang, who was not much taller than the basket, stood up and stretched out his small hands, asking his shixiong to carry him out.
After Lian Qing carried him out, he bent down to take the food from the other basket. He took one thing, and the little one stretched out his hand to take it as well. This went on until his small chubby hands could no longer hold any more, and they steadily sent the items into the kitchen. Lian Qing held onto the remaining food and followed behind, smiling as he watched the little one panting and helping out.
When everything was sorted out, Lian Qing looked at all the food and tools in a daze.
The earthen stove, firewood, pressure cooker, old-fashioned coal stove, and big iron pot.
Lian Qing looked at the food and tools with distress, then at the little one who was also dazed by the sight. He gritted his teeth and picked up the pressure cooker to wash the rice. In any case, cooking the rice was the most important thing to do.
He had never used a pressure cooker or a coal stove before. When he asked the staff member for guidance, the person only showed him how to put the lid on and then stopped talking. Lian Qing had no choice but to figure things out on his own, using some coal to try and light the stove. Skipping over the process, he eventually managed to light the coal and put the pressure cooker on top.
Next, he lit the firewood and started the earthen stove, then used water to rinse the pot and put it back on the stove.
Turning his head, he saw that his junior had already squatted down and was ready to help add firewood. Lian Qing quickly stopped him and said, “Xiao San’er, why don’t you go wash the vegetables instead? I’ll add the firewood myself.”
The tiny monk, looked up uncertainly and asked, “Shixiong, can you do it?”
“Don’t worry, your shixiong is very capable!”
The little guy was half-believing and half-doubting. His shixiong was quite skilled in other areas, but cooking… could he handle it?
Lian Qing directly stuffed a pile of meat and vegetables into the little guy’s arms, leaving only pig trotters and chicken meat. He waved his hand with the grandeur of a general and said, “Go, the sooner you leave, the sooner you’ll be back.”
“Then…then I’ll go.” The little guy carried the food out very anxiously, looking back three times with each step.
After the little guy had completely walked out, Lian Qing kicked out the cameraman and other staff, saying that he wanted them to film his shidi. His shidi was so cute and sensible, and it would be great to take more shots of him.
The staff wanted to say that there was also a cameraman following the little guy, but before the words could be spoken, they were already sent out by Lian Qing. The kitchen door was ruthlessly closed in front of them and locked from the inside.
The staff looked at each other helplessly and shrugged, then went to rest nearby. Anyway, except for the toilet, there were cameras installed everywhere in the guests’ houses, so it didn’t matter if they didn’t film this part.
In the kitchen, Lian Qing saw that the pot was already hot, so he poured in some oil and took the pig’s feet and chicken meat that had been washed with water. He silently prayed “Amitabha” in his heart and cruelly threw the meat of the small animals into the pot. When he heard a sizzling sound, he quickly covered the pot.
After waiting for a while, there was not much sound in the pot. Only then did he uncover the lid and pour some soy sauce into it, cover the pot again, and squat down to add some firewood. After doing all this, Lian Qing sat directly on the pile of firewood, thinking that there should be no accidents now. He always had a vague premonition that something unexpected would happen while he was cooking. Just in case, he had deliberately sent everyone out. If there was really an accident, he could run faster than anyone else. But it wouldn’t be easy to take others with him.
He really didn’t know how to cook. In the past, basically, his master did all the cooking. Occasionally, when the master was not around or not feeling well, Lian Qing himself would only boil vegetables in saltwater, and it was enough as long as they were cooked. Rice was steamed directly, and it was not as troublesome as it is now. Now, he could only hope that the rice in the pressure cooker would cook, and the meat in the cast iron pot would be edible.
If he couldn’t eat it… it didn’t matter. There were still many dishes like shrimp and such. He could make them later.
So, Lian Qing was sitting there daydreaming while adding firewood to the stove. Until the pressure cooker on the coal stove started to make strange noises. Lian Qing took a glance at it, turned around and opened the door a crack, and asked the staff, “Is this sound from the pressure cooker normal?”
One of the female staff members nodded and said, “It’s normal. The sound will gradually get louder, and then the fire can be turned down a bit or turned off directly.”
Lian Qing nodded in understanding, said “thank you,” and closed the door. Then he sat back on the firewood, added another piece of wood, and continued to stare into space.
It didn’t seem like much time had passed when the pressure cooker started making more and more noise, and Lian Qing smelled a burnt odor coming from the pot. He realized something was wrong and quickly picked up the pressure cooker and put it on the ground. At the same time, he took a shovel in one hand and gripped the lid of the pot in the other. He was about to lift the lid when he heard an unusual and piercing sound at his feet.
Lian Qing’s heart skipped a beat, and he instinctively jumped up. The next second, there was a loud bang from the kitchen.
The staff members in the yard were all startled by the sound, looked at each other in alarm, and hurried to the kitchen door. One of them directly slammed the door open. The old wooden door fell to the ground, but they ignored it and only looked at the situation in the kitchen.
The kitchen was a mess, the coal stove had overturned, and the charcoal inside had caught fire and was smoking. The firewood in the earthen stove had probably splashed some water and was only half lit, with thick smoke billowing out. On the ground, a pressure cooker lay in a miserable state, with the lid separated from the pot, and even the white rice that should have been inside was almost gone.
There were already-formed or unformed rice grains and a little water all over the floor, the stove, and even the green brick wall.
The onlookers were breathless, this… was a small explosion accident! Where was Lian Qing?
Before they could even search for him, a soft and urgent voice with a crying tone sounded, “Shixiong!”
Lian Sang, the tiny monk, reacted two seconds after hearing the loud noise. However, his short legs couldn’t run as fast as the others, so he naturally fell behind. But because he was small, he easily squeezed past the few people blocking the door. He looked around the kitchen, only saw the tragic scene, and couldn’t find his shixiong.
The little guy pouted and sadly called out, “Shixiong, where are you…”
“I’m here!” A voice came from above.
The onlookers looked up, and they saw Lian Qing, the little monk, tightly hugging a thick wooden beam in mid-air, with a dirty face, shouting at them, “Make way, I want to come down.”
The onlookers were dazed and subconsciously stepped back a few steps. They saw Lian Qing, like Spiderman, climbing down the beam all the way, then suddenly letting go and jumping down to the corner on the pile of firewood. He then jumped to the ground and precisely reached out to hold Lian Sang, who was trying to pounce into his arms.
He held the little guy’s bare little head with one hand and said gently, “Be good, shixiong is so dirty, don’t come over.”
“I’m not afraid of getting dirty!” The little guy flapped his hands non-stop, trying hard to get closer to his senior brother.
Lian Qing frowned and said, “Well, I am afraid. I’m the one washing the clothes, not you.”
Lian Sang looked at him and said thoughtfully, “Shixiong, you’ve changed.”
Others burst into laughter.
After laughing, everyone checked Lian Qing’s hands and feet to make sure he was not hurt. Lian Qing assured them that he was okay. In the second before the pressure cooker exploded, he cleverly jumped onto the stove and then onto the rafters. However, the rafters were also really dirty and hadn’t been cleaned in who knows how many years, leaving him covered in dust.
After this incident, everyone was afraid to let Lian Qing stay in the kitchen, so they pushed him to sit outside in the courtyard. Some notified the program director, while others dealt with the scene.
When Li Chengsi and his group arrived, they saw Lian Qing covered in dirt and black marks, and his clothes were so dirty that their original color couldn’t be recognized. He was squatting on the ground, looking pitiful and helpless as if he were a little beggar that no one wanted.
Behind him stood a clean little monk. The little guy was reaching out with his chubby hand, gently patting his senior brother’s back as if trying to comfort him.
Li Chengsi’s mouth twitched. This…the roles had been reversed, right? A little guy who wasn’t even standing was comforting his senior brother who was already an adult?
Chen Yi and a few others ran to the kitchen to see what happened, while Li Chengsi asked Lian Qing directly, “What happened? How did you manage to look like a beggar when you were fine earlier?”
Li Lele also frowned and asked, “Are you really Xiao shixiong?” He was so dirty that he wasn’t handsome anymore.
Before Lian Qing could respond, Chen Yi and the others had already returned. Among them, Chen Yi shouted as he ran, “Little Monk, you really blew up the kitchen!”
Wu Xiangling also said, “I’ve never seen anyone really blow up the kitchen before. You’re amazing!”
Li Chengsi was surprised and ran to the kitchen to take a look. After observing the disaster scene, he walked back, both crying and laughing, and asked, “You’re really something else. The kitchen exploded just because you were in it. Are you okay? Were you hurt?”
Lian Qing shook his head and said pitifully, “Do I have to compensate them for the damages?”
Because of him, the door was broken, the pressure cooker exploded, the coal stove seemed to have been knocked unevenly, and there were other things that might have been affected… Wait, there seemed to be something very important that he overlooked…
Lian Qing lowered his head and pondered for a moment. Suddenly he stood up and shouted while running towards the kitchen, “My pig trotters!”
The author has something to say:
Quoting lalamao’s insightful comment on Yu Wenning: “The people in Jianghu call him ‘Big Brother’, a professional chef, and part-time CEO, he is warm-hearted and often saves little monks from hunger.”
Well, everyone will make their official appearance in the next chapter, so let’s roll out the red carpet!
I may not be Gordon Ramsey but at least I’ve never blown up a kitchen!