“Shaomao, may I have a little bit of your time?” Gaoshun called out to Maomao who had finished her work and was going to return to her room. Jinshi, his master, seemingly tired from today’s job, was preparing for his after-meal bath.
“What is it?” Maomao asked.
Gaoshun rubbed his chin, as if he was slightly perplexed. Then he said with a sigh. “There’s something I want you to see.”
The wrinkles on the attendant’s brows today were deeper than usual.
What Gaoshun showed her were documents written on wooden slips. Several linked pieces of wood were spread out on the table. “These are documents about an old incident,” he said.
It wrote about something from beyond ten years ago, a food poisoning that occurred in a certain store. It was from eating fugu.
Maomao gulped reflexively.
(Ahh, I want to eat it.)
Gaoshun looked at Maomao with an expression that said that he knew it. “I’ll be taking you to that kind of restaurant this time.”
But there will be no viscera, he gave her a look emphasising that.
Even though there are specialities where you can enjoy that tingling numbing sensation, while Maomao thought along those lines, she would be eager if she was treated to a restaurant with delicious food.
“What are you getting with this?” she asked.
“I had a job a long time ago that had something to do that this incident. I had a discussion with a former colleague on a similar incident that happened recently,” he replied.
Could the former colleague be someone from before Gaoshun became a eunuch? Had he really been a military officer or something?
“A really similar incident? In what way?” Maomao was honestly more interested in the current poisoning matter than Gaoshun’s past. She set her previous thought in the back-burner and proceeded with the talk.
“After eating a fugu namasu(Raw seafood and vegetables pickled in rice vinegar. A reoccurring dish….), a certain official fell into a coma,” Gaoshun said.
(A certain official?)
Maomao had a somewhat unpleasant premonition. She thought for this reticent man, just then for a moment, wasn’t he chattering non-stop?
Maomao sneaked a peek at Gaoshun’s face.
His face was like normal, the worldly-wise person with wrinkles on his brows, but it seems that he was also studying Maomao.
“My apologies, Gaoshun-sama. Is the rest something I’m allowed to hear? She tried to go straight to the point, but Gaoshun’s expression remained unchanged. Arms in his sleeves, he nodded slowly.
“Yes, there is no problem. Since Shaomao understands your own position.” He told her something surprising.
And then. “Moreover, is it fine to cut this conversation at this point?”
“…please continue,” Maomao said as she frowned at the Gaoshun who seemed to be putting on airs.
Gaoshun continued, pointing at the wooden slips. “This time, it appeared that the namasu was made with scalded fugu skin and meat. It said he fell into a coma after eating that.”
“Fugu meat? Not the guts?”
Fugu poison doesn’t get neutralised with heat. But, the part with lots of poison would be the guts such as the liver, the meat has comparatively less. So, if there was poison that can make someone fall into a coma, she guessed it would be the liver part.
(Did it really accumulate that much poison?)
And yet, cases of having poison according to the variety and raised environment certainly exists.
Given that it wasn’t said as a rule, it might be that sort of case.
What Maomao ate was the section with less poison. Though she occasionally got carried away and ate liver, she wasn’t in considerable danger. She remembered the madam had forced her to drink water until her stomach turned over.
“If that’s the case, are there any other strange points?” Maomao asked.
Gaoshun slowly shook his head.
“That is…” he answered while scratching the back of his head. “The chefs insisted that they didn’t prepare fugu. For this incident, and the previous one too.”
Despite Gaoshun’s frown as if to say what’s the deal with that, Maomao stuck out her tongue.
It was a very interesting story.
There were several similar points between this incident and the previous one.
It said the official who collapsed from this incident, and the merchant from the previous one, were both gourmets who enjoyed delicacies. Though this time the namasu even used fish meat that was scalded, it said it was normally eaten raw. Be as it may that it was fresh, there were cases where the raw fish had parasites, normal people don’t really eat it by choice, and it had been banned in some areas.
For this reason, it said these kinds of gourmets often prefer and eat dishes made from fugu. Everyone denied it, but among gourmets, there are also those who purposely eat the meat that has small amounts of poison on it and enjoy the tingling sensation.
(To not understand that goodness is…)
She thought that people must be tolerant of other people’s tastes.
It said the chefs of both incidents claimed their innocence by having not used fugu in their cooking. However, the proprietors who ate it both got poisoning symptoms.
Evidence that fugu viscera and skin were discovered among the rubbish in the kitchen had been presented.
(They were surprisingly thorough in their investigation huh)
Maomao was strangely admired that. In these times, there are a lot of worthless officials who make up criminals from fabricated evidence.
Both chefs said that was used yesterday but not for today. In any case if it was midsummer, to leave kitchen waste out for days on end in this season where the days aren’t cool yet, even leaving it out would be ridiculous.
The ingredients for the namasu was a different fish. The leftovers of that fish were discovered in the rubbish basket.
(It can’t be said surely that the officials fabricated that. Nevertheless, there’s no positive proof that the chefs were speaking the truth.)
Unfortunately, there were no people who could be witnesses.
When they eat delicacies, it is said that it is common for officials to eat alone in the room because they would be scolded by their wives. The namasu was brought over by the chef, and the ones who see the contents were the employees from a distance, who couldn’t know what kind of fish, with it being cut up.
It said that the victim collapsed after he ate everything. In terms of time, it was a quarter-dual-hourhalf an hour after eating.
It said he was discovered convulsing, lips blue like he was suffocating, by an employee who was bringing in tea.
(Even the symptoms are like fugu poisoning.)
From this and that, the information alone that Gaoshun brought was insufficient for Maomao. She stopped expressing her thoughts temporarily and decided to ask Gaoshun once more for any information.
(Just what could it be?)
As she was muttering, a handsome face suddenly appeared at her side.
Maomao inadvertently froze the nerves on her face.
“Sorry, but that face actually does hurt me too.” Jinshi with wet hair said.
Suiren said “oh my,” as she wiped up his dripping hair.
Maomao return her face back to normal. It probably looked like a face when you uproot a foreign country’s screaming root.
“It looked like you were listening to Gaoshun awfully enthusiastically,” Jinshi said somewhat unamusedly.
“If it’s interesting, people will listen to it intently,” she replied.
“…hold it there. You, listen to what I’m say—” His face in a state in of shock, Jinshi was mumbling a little. She couldn’t quite catch what he said at the end.
“It’s getting late, so I’ll be returning now.” Maomao lowered her head at Suiren, who was busy even though she was drying Jinshi’s hair, and plod out of the room.
Whilst, hoping that Gaoshun will bring even more interesting talk tomorrow.
And then, whether it had a relation to the casualties, she thought that without suppressing her own curiosity like this, while wondering if her dad will get angry at her.
T/N: Scalding is a cooking technique where you pour boiling water onto raw fish so it curls up a little, with an added bonus of killing bacteria.