An Unexpected Competition (Flash Fiction #74)

Image by Manuel Alejandro Leon from Pixabay

Jintu is the chef of “The Royal Garden” in New Jersey. If you talk about any other dish or any other chef in his presence, you are going to run into a big argument with him. He considers himself the king of food and cooking, and he is willing to guard his domain with sarcasm, contempt, quarrel, or any other form of brutality within his reach.

It’s a busy night. A group came in and ordered the house special soup for eight people. It’s made by frying the balls of different meats first, then dropping them in a big pre-heated ceramic tureen with half cooked glass noodle and vegetable. The presentation is the most important part of this dish. The oversized tureen would be placed on patrons’ table, and boiling soup stock would be poured in, creating a sizzling sound with a big plume of steam rising up–it’s a big food spectacle for the restaurant, which would undoubtedly create lasting memories in the customers’ mind. Jintu is about to finish the preparation and he tells his assistant Adan to roll out the cart and preheat the ceramic container. Jinmu, the restaurant owner, comes in to tell chef Jintu that the little band he invited is playing outside.

“Can the soup wait? I mean the music would obscure the soup effect. I want a beautiful soup presentation with sounds and steams and everything.” The owner says.

“The soup cannot wait. Timing is everything for this dish. Tell the band to stop.” Jintu insists.

The owner disappears for thirty seconds, but comes back again shaking his head, “they can’t stop. They are very enthusiastic and refuse to listen to me.”

Jintu wipes his hands and tells his assistant Adan to finish the dish and roll the cart out to serve. “No waiting. The best effect comes when serving immediately.”

Here Jintu rushes to the dining area to confront the band. He yells at them to stop, but the four young musicians behave as if they don’t hear him. Jintu is so angry that he starts to push one of the band members. At first the young man fights him off with one arm while his other arm on his instrument. But Jintu is increasing his force and the young man is forced to stop playing. Jintu then moves on to the second young man. Within a minute, Jintu and a waiter, who comes to his aid, start to push and throw tantalizing punches, fighting against two band members. The customers’ interest is roused at such a performance–two people playing while four people fighting. What a show. Some of the customers even stand up and leave their table so that they can come closer to have a better view of what they consider part of the dinner entertainment.

When Adan rolls out the cart with the tureen and a pot of boiling stock, the music and the fight are still going on. Adan doesn’t know which table is supposed to have the soup, so he pushes the cart to the middle of the dining room. He suddenly remembers Jintu’s warning: “no waiting”, and without putting the big tureen on a table, he pours the boiling stock into it. The ensuing sound and visual effect of steam win a round of applause from the diners sitting down or standing up. Then Adan starts to go around to make inquires to figure out which table the soup is for. In the meantime, several diners think the soup is part of the general performance and is for everybody. So they take their rice bowl and walk to the soup cart to fill up for themselves. Soon the adjacent diners all come over and the tureen is empty before the music finally stops.

There’s a piercing scream lingering when the band suddenly goes quiet, “Oh, my back. I can’t move.” Jintu is lying on the floor, crying out in pain.

14 thoughts on “An Unexpected Competition (Flash Fiction #74)

  1. Haha! This is such a fun and hilarious story. What one wants, one seldom gets. I can imagine the fighting and the music still playing. And the dish being the star in all the chaos. You really are very good at writing humor, Haoyan. You manage the right timing and the comical scenes are so genuine. Lovely! Lovely! Lovely! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. Thank you. I tried. Thank you for the encouragement. You are always here to inspire and motivate me even during the time that I don’t have the wish to write anything. Hahaha. Love and hugs for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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