I glanced at the table before me. Just awhile ago, there were all sorts of food on top, but now, they were all mostly finished. I put away the empty plates and lined up new ones.
“Hmm. The wrappers seem to be made from kneading wheat and then frying them. I see there are multiple variants too. Some have been added into soup, while others were deep fried or steamed. Regardless, they’re all basically the same thing.” [Head Chef]
“Indeed, but depending on the method used, the resulting product could be called boiled gyoza, pan-fried gyoza, deep-fried gyoza, or steamed gyoza. I have a pair of father and daughter from Zilmar working at one of my stores, and apparently, they have food like this there too.” [Ryomua]
“Oh? So this is Zilmar Cuisine. Let me have a bite.” [Porco]
“I’ve prepared 8 types of sauce, so please use whichever you like.” [Ryouma]
The feudal lord and his entourage simultaneously ate the different gyozas.
“Ofu, fuu, fuu… umu! It’s hot… And delicious!” [Porco]
“Indeed. When I bite into this pan-fried gyoza, the fat of the meat steadily seeps out.” [Head Chef]
“This boiled gyoza pairs well with soup and has a mellow taste.” [Kichomaru]
“I like the texture of the deep-fried gyoza, de gowasu.” [Tairyuzan]
Everyone compared the various types of gyoza and gave their impression of them. But the feudal lord wore a disappointed look on his face.
…But that was only a given. After all, the gyozas that I made wer really simple.
“These certainly taste good, but…” [Porco]
“These can’t become a local specialty like this.” [Piguu]
“Indeed. This gyoza is made by wrapping meat and vegetables with a wrapper made from wheat. The steamed gyoza’s wrapper appears to be made from rice, but most of the ingredients aren’t local to this region. They must have been purchased from the stores in town, who likely sourced it from other places. Goods from other places are already being traded around these parts to some extent, but regardless, food that was made using ingredients sourced from elsewhere can’t become a local specialty. But I’m sure you understand that, Ryouma. If so, then… Are you saying that we should make these gyoza using ingredients local to our region?” [Porco]
I was just about to say that, but Porco-sama was a step ahead.
“As eagle-eyed as ever, Porco-sama. Just as you’ve said, tonight I merely intend to ‘propose’, and these gyozas are but ‘examples’ to that end. Examples of a simple but diverse dish.” [Ryouma]
“As you’ve mentioned, these are made by kneading wheat flour and then filling them with bean paste. This time around I used pork and vegetables, but the ratio I followed isn’t set in stone. What’s more is that even the ingredients themselves can be changed.
So long as the wrapper is made from grain flour, there won’t be a problem. In fact, the wrappers of the steamed gyoza and the boiled gyoza were made using rice. Although I chose these wrappers purely out of personal preference, this does show that there are at least two options for the wrappers.
Moreover, the wrapper can be made in four different ways. You can boil them, fry them, steam them, or even deep fry them. And even the sauce can be prepared in so many ways that tonight I was able to produce 8 variants.
There’s no end to the combinations one could come up with regarding the filling, so we’ll skip that part, but even then, with just the wrappers, the cooking method, and the sauce, you can already come up with as much as 64 different combinations.
Of course, you can also choose not to eat the gyoza with sauce. And then the combination of the filling can still be changed. When you consider all of that, the possibility is simply endless.” [Ryomua]
“That certainly rouses the interest. A dish whose taste can be changed infinitely.” [Porco]
“I think so too. That’s why I had everyone in the village make their own gyoza.” [Ryouma]
I turned to the village headman, and from the looks of things they’re finished preparing, as he walked up to me.
“My lord, the villagers have prepared their own gyoza after hearing from him. We don’t know if it’ll be to your liking, but won’t you have some?” [Villlage Headman]
“By all means, please allow me to taste the gyozas the villagers have come up with.” [Porco]
And so, the original gyozas and the villagers who made them appeared before the feudal lord one after another.
The first to present her dish was a grandmother. She appeared before the feudal lord while supported by her grandchild.
“Hmm. So this is gyoza boiled in horas soup. It’s warm and soft.” [Porco]
“Thank you, my lord. My husband and I are already at this age. Hard food isn’t something we can easily afford to eat anymore because of our teeth, and because we’ve already gotten used to the taste of soup, I decided to make it like this.” [Grandma]
The second to appear was a male fisherman. He had a good constitution, but he looked really nervous.
“M-My lord, I-I normally don’t cook well, s-so I don’t know if y-you’ll like it, but…” [Fisherman]
“Ha ha ha. This pan-fried gyoza is indeed misshapen, but it doesn’t taste bad.” [Porco]
“T-Thank you very much. M-My wife is pregnant, so I wanted to make a dish that was as nourishing as possible!” [Fisherman]
The third one was a woman with a great body. She was overflowing with confidence and was the most unreserved of the bunch.
“Ohh! This is great! The elastic freshwater shrimp. The finely chopped locus root. The firm texture. It’s perfect.” [Porco]
After that the 4 or 5 more people came and offered their gyoza to the feudal lord. By the end of it, the feudal lord didn’t know which dish to pick.
“Hmm… They all taste good. I also understand now why you call this dish diverse, but now I’m at a loss.” [Porco]
“My lord, I don’t think there’s any need to narrow the dishes down to just one.” [Ryouma]
“And why is that?” [Porco]
“Wouldn’t it be fine if the various villages of Fatma Territory just made their own version of gyoza according to the ingredients local to them? After all, even if this whole territory is known as ‘Fatma Territory’, it’s not as if all the villages are blessed in the same way.
In this village, for example, although there’s a lot of freshwater fish here, there’s not much meat to go around. But in the outer parts of Fatma Territory or those near the neighboring territories, aren’t there places where it’s easier to source meat, vegetables, and wheat flour?” [Ryouma]
“Yes. There are certainly areas like those. And as you’ve said, there are certainly differences in food.
Now that I think about it, there are probably places within the territory that could produce the meat gyoza you made earlier… I see. If each place comes up with its own version, then a taste local to each place will naturally appear.
And if that could rouse the interest of the merchants and nobles passing by, it might just be enough to reinvigorate the region.” [Porco]
The famed Utsunomiya and Hanamatsu cities are a thing in Japan, after all, and I’ve never heard of anyone hating gyoza either. If the feudal lord could get the people within his territory competing with each other, he might just be able to bring life to the whole Fatma Territory. I think there’s plenty of potential here.