The clams that I had made before, with the simple seasonings that I had, could be considered tasteless and bland compared to the dish in front of me. The first flavor that hit my tongue was a surprising mild sweet taste. Immediately following that was a much more intense spice that made sweat bead on all of our foreheads. And as a finish, a slightly salty tang that lasted just long enough for us to acknowledge the fact that clams came from the deeply salty ocean. Like a frantic chase, the flavors kept running over each other, making the dish as if we were all riding on a rollercoaster of sweetness, spiciness and saltiness.
In the midst of enjoying the food, out of the corner of my eye I could see Jenny sneak some tiny bits of clam meat to Kelp underneath the table. Her mother seemed to be turning a blind eye to her actions, although a faint smile seemed to tug at the corners of her lips. Then, as Kelp swiftly gobbled the food without looking, its expression would change and it would start sticking out its tough and breathing heavily. Jenny would then giggle, as if her prank was successful, and continue to enjoy the rest of the clams herself.
The moment all of us finished our dishes, Jennys mother chased us out of the house, and told Jenny to bring us to the river. In excited, she pulled my hands and dragged me out of the house. On the way out, she took another basket, this one made of wood.
e going to the west river where everyone catches food and gathers mud from. Once we get there, we are going to shift through the wet soil for edible mud. Then we are going to dry the mud before we bring them back to make red mudcakes. While we are waiting for them to dry, the three of us can go searching around for more food! ”
It turned out that the west river was quite close to the village, since the moment she finished her words we could hear the rushing sound of water. Walking up to the river bank, Jenny put her basket down and looked over to me.
”Follow me! ”
She cupped her hands and gathered the surface wet soil into her hands.
”The soil at the surface already has all its mud washed away so we need to go a bit deeper than that. Just until you feel something very cold touch your hands. ”
Using strength, she dug her hands slightly deeper into the soil. Copying her, I could feel the slightly cool surface wet soil at first, and pushing in deeper, the temperature seemed to significantly drop. However, I did not think this was what she meant by very cold, since it was only cold to the extent of sticking my hands into the fridge. A little puzzled, I continued pushing down until I felt something like ice touch the side of my thumb.
”Then, when you feel the very cold mud, scoop it up and bring it to the surface. But be careful and remember to cover it securely in your hands so that it doesn get washed away by the water. ”
Maneuvering her hands, I saw her bring her enclosed hands up to the surface. And, once she brought them above the water, she opened her cupped hands to show me the turquoise colored mud that she was talking about. She then lay it inside the basket to dry.
Following her example, I brought the cold mud up to the surface and laid it next to hers.
”Alright! We need 2 muds each, so Ill just put this set aside for now and once we
e done, we can leave them here to dry and go and find more food to eat! ”
Pumped up, we both carefully gathered enough mud for 3 people, and then left the basket as is before we went off. Jenny left Kelp to guard our spoils.
”Those green berries are tasty without cooking, but we can eat too much of them or our fingertips will turn green and well get sick. These red branches are sweet and we can munch on them. ”
Jenny said as she nonchalantly broke off a red branch from a red tree, making sure to avoid branches with the green berries on them. Breaking the branch in half, she shared one half with me as she continued walking.
”We call them candy trees as they taste kind of like candy. Ah, candy is when we mix more water with rain powder bark. Rain powder bark is the bark of those orange trees over there. We grind the yellow insides to make this yellow sticky mixture called honey sap. Honey sap uses as much water as there is powder, but to make candy we first must put as much water as powder, then mix them and slowly add water and mix until all the air bubbles inside the honey sap rises to the surface. Then we mix them a final time and leave them to harden. ”
Staring at Jenny a little suspiciously, I stopped in my tracks and tried to lighten my voice.
”Jenny, why are you suddenly telling me about these recipes from your village? Normally, you shouldn tell strangers everything if not they will take advantage of you. ”
When Jenny heard my words, she paused. Then, she turned around and said in a light voice that seemed to blow away all my suspicions.
”Because Alex is a chef like mom right? Your fingers smell like clams. Besides, you
e not a stranger at all! Someone who likes moms clams and helps me pick red berries is a fellow foodie! ”
Jenny smiled, showing all her tiny teeth, and followed up with a sentence that seemed to remind me of a certain someone.
”Now that we
e not strangers, and instead fellow foodies, this also means that when I visit you in the future, you need to cook some delicious dishes for me! ”
I guess all foodies have a similar personality.
Laughing away all my worries, I reach out a hand to pat Jenny on the head.
”Sure, Ill cook for you when you visit. But be warned, it might not be as good as your moms food. ”
Hearing this, Jenny gave another cheeky smile.
”Of course, since my mom cooks the best food in the world!
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