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143 part 3
“Yeah, count me in!”
Karen’s eyes sparkled brightly.
She seemed to have high expectations for the taste of mountain wasabi.
Haruki was slightly overawed by her momentum.
“O-Okay, then, come by after you’ve rested.”
“Yes, see you in the evening!”
It was fairly unhealthy to sleep after the sun had already risen, but there was no helping it since they had stayed up all night hunting.
Haruki parted ways with Karen and headed home.
After leaving both Esta, who was dozing off, and Rhea, who was reacting to the sun’s rays, at home, Haruki headed for the dungeon once again.
After pulling such an all-nighter, the Haruki that used to be a working adult would have just dived into bed and fell asleep.
However, the Haruki that was now an adventurer didn’t feel like sleeping.
Haruki was very frustrated.
Even though they had spent the same time training, Karen had shown to have grown much more than him…
At this rate, there would begin to be a gap between them.
Not as a team member, or as a senior.
But as an adventurer.
Karen’s rapid growth had ignited the fuse of Haruki’s motivation dramatically.
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The moment the rice Haruki had set into the rice cooker became soft and ready, Karen arrived at Haruki’s house.
“Hellooo~ What a nice smell~”
The scent of freshly cooked rice made Karen smile.
As she sat at the table, Haruki started to bring in the plates and serve the food.
The first dish was a meat dish.
It was a teriyaki-style of kokko meat.
The soy sauce, which is indispensable for teriyaki, was procured from the brewery in Hakodate.
Being essential for Japanese food, soy sauce was a seasoning that Haruki had sought for a long time.
However, he would run out of it in less than a month if he were to use it carelessly.
He knew he had to use it sparingly, but today was a special occasion.
The second dish was grated mountain wasabi served on a small plate.
The closer you bring it to your face, the more stimulating the scent that drifts from it.
Several times as he grated the mountain wasabi, Haruki thought he would die.
The mountain wasabi was so fresh and rich in spicy ingredients.
With the windows fully open and with his head as far away as possible from the grater, Haruki literally cried as he grated the mountain wasabi.
“Huh? Are you still tired, Karaboshi? You don’t seem so well…”
“I’m fine. Must be your imagination.”
Haruki shifted his eyes from one side to the other in order to avoid Karen’s gaze.
Then, he quickly put his hands together so as to avoid further pursuits.
Let’s show our gratitude for the food on our table.
Haruki and Karen put their hands together.
“Thank you for this meal!”
Karen took her chopsticks and was about to take some of the Kokko meat.
But before that…
“Karen, you should try adding some mountain wasabi on top of the meat.”
Mountain wasabi was just like regular wasabi.
When eaten together with something, its flavor would change significantly.
In particular, it was a seasoning that went well with soy sauce.
Karen went with Haruki’s advice and added some mountain wasabi on top of the meat.
Karen’s muffled voice echoed in the living room.
Seeing her reaction, Haruki nodded to himself, as if saying “That’s right, that’s right.”
The tears on her eyes certainly weren’t just out of her being deeply moved by the flavor.
“–Puhaaah!” I-It’s very spicy!”
“I know, right? But it’s just as tasty.”
The mountain wasabi was fresh, and because it was served grated, it was quite pungent when put into the mouth.
However, its flavor enhanced the soy sauce and meat even more.
Like pepper in soy sauce ramen and shichimi in soba.
Seeing how impressed Karen was, Haruki also took some meat into his mouth.
“Mhmm, so tasty!”
He had already had a taste of it recently when he enjoyed that lumpfish soup, but this confirmed that the taste of soy sauce was the best.
Mixing itself with the aroma of soy sauce, the spicy smell of mountain wasabi became even clearer.
Haruki was chewing through his food thoroughly.
Karen gulped down her rice with tears in her eyes.
This mountain wasabi had no peculiarities, unlike regular wasabi.
It was more similar to daikon in that regard.
When daikon reaches the pinnacle of its spiciness, it has a similar taste to mountain wasabi.
That’s why it went so well with meat and soy sauce.
“This mountain wasabi is so good you can put it on top of rice, too.”
“Huh? Like this?”
Karen frowned suspiciously, as if she couldn’t believe Haruki’s words.
Of course, that kind of reaction was rather unavoidable when one thought of regular wasabi.
But this was mountain wasabi.
And very freshly picked, at that.
“Dip it in soy sauce, put it over the rice, and try it.”
Haruki did a demonstration as well.
The moment he put it in his mouth, the sharp smell of wasabi came out, and the inner corners of his eyes became hot.
The aroma of the soy sauce drifted soon after, and the deliciousness, spiciness, and the sweetness of the rice spreaded all over Haruki’s mouth.
Mountain wasabi is the best!
Tears welled up in Haruki’s eyes as that taste continued on for the first time in a long time.
It seemed that Karen was determined to see Haruki’s expression.
Then she welcomed the flavor of the soy sauce, the rice, and the mountain wasabi as well.
Surprised by its spiciness, Karen’s eyes were opened wide.
However, contrary to the surprise in her eyes, her mouth was moving with enthusiasm.
“T-This is amazing!!”
“I know, right?”
That’s right, that’s right!
Haruki nodded complacently to himself as he folded his arms.
After that, they became silent.
They continued to eat their meal without saying another word.
The five servings of rice were quickly gone, and the two servings of kokko with mountain wasabi had already disappeared into their stomachs.
Haruki let out a blissful sigh, and Karen wiped out her moist eyes.
Neither of them had said a word so far, but they shared the same feeling.
Both of them put down their chopsticks, and then put their hands together to show their gratitude for the lives they had received on their plates.
“Thanks for the meal!”