Photo credit: douguo.com
I have fond memories of the dish that Toupai is going to describe in this chapter. Mmm… It is indeed delicious. When you eat it piping hot, it’s so fragrant and full of flavour. The eggplant has a natural sponge-like texture so it soaks in the flavours of the yuxiang, and when you bite into it, it’s like a little explosion of yummy goodness in your mouth. Gosh, I am so hungry… and it’s late at night here. I just did exactly what Toupai is going to do to his listeners, except I did it to myself…
Chapter 2 – Yuxiang-Flavored Thousand Layer Eggplant
It was New Year’s holidays.
For three full days, Gu Sheng was conscripted by her family. During the day, she needed to look after their family’s little grocery store, and at night after closing, she still needed to do inventory. But even so, Geng Xiaoxing still did not let her off the hook and required that she be present promptly every night at 10:30 until 1:00 in the morning when it ended.
The first two days, because both Jue Mei and Qiang Qing Ci had personal commitments, neither of them was present.
It was the last day of the holidays and also the first day of rehearsal.
To enhance the promotion of the event as well as feed all of Wanmei’s fans’ appetites, Jue Mei Sha Yi announced that the first rehearsal would be conducted on Wanmei’s official channel and the event would be made public.
Naturally, the whole setting was not much different from a tea party.
By the time Gu Sheng arrived home, the screen was already deluged with countless comments. There were endless numbers of people leaving all sorts of shrieking or starry-eyed emoticons and symbols. Jue Mei Sha Yi and Feng Ya Song had just released a drama, and now they were on YY engaging in amusing banter.
Her eyes swept across quickly. Qiang Qing Ci was not present. This leading artist’s whereabouts were truly impossible to determine.
Because all three of Wanmei’s top stars were making an appearance at the event, in the end, it was decided that they would all have a part in voicing the lines in the storyline song. And because of the fame of Wanmei and its leading artist, Qiang Qing Ci, the lyricist actually submitted a draft for the song in only two days.
She looked over the lines for each of those three as well as a few of the new artistes in Wanmei and was very pleased to discover that the lyricist, like herself, loved Qiang Qing Ci’s voice the most. The most beautiful, artistic, and alluring lines were devoted to him.
“These lines are so ‘shou.’” Feng Ya Song sighed softly. “Why is it, every time I cross paths with you, dear group leader, I have to be shou? And it has to be that warm and gentle but actually secretly resentful type of shou.”
Gu Sheng skimmed through Feng Ya Song’s lines and could not help letting out giggle.
“ ‘The horn’s call trembles, the night is deep. For fear someone should inquire, tears are swallowed and joy is put on…’ ” Feng Ya Song recited slowly. He suddenly changed his lines and gently added at the end, “Jue Mei, may I ask you a question?”
“Huh?” Jue Mei Sha Yi said. “Sure, ask.”
Feng Ya Song deliberately paused for several seconds.
And in those few seconds, there were already several hundred comments: “Yes, he did love you!” “Truly did love you!” “You don’t even need to ask. You guys are the official couple!” “Be together!” “Absolutely, be together! No explanation needed!”…… The screen continued its nonstop scrolling because of all the comments. Gu Sheng was nearly dying from laughter as she read all these. These two men, one had an unruly and unfettered image while the other often put on the appearance of being wronged and misunderstood. They were indeed made for each other as Wanmei’s number one “official couple.”
It was a common occurrence for these CVs to be paired back and forth with one another.
But unfortunately, as the leading artiste, Qiang Qing Ci did not have any official pairing or rumours. This was utterly due to the simple self-introduction he gave when he first joined Wanmei: “I’m Qiang Qing Ci. Um, I’m straight.”
A very prim and serious self-introduction.
And then, coupled with the fact that Toupai DaRen had a valiant fan base, no one dared to pair him up with any man.
Seeing that the screen was being spammed so violently, Feng Ya Song finally could not contain himself any longer and decided to put a stop to this.
“Eh? All of you, don’t get the wrong idea…” Feng Ya Song was unable to hold back his laughter. “I wanted to ask, where has our Toupai DaRen gone?”
“Qiang Qing Ci?” Jue Mei Sha Yi chuckled. “If he knew that you called him Toupai, you’d be tossed into the pool and used as a specimen of some sort.”
Feng Ya Song burst out in laughter.
The two’s opening dialogue to warm up the crowd could now be considered over.
After business was complete, the channel became Wanmei’s site for its own activities, but all the workers of the website still did not exit the channel, including Geng Xiaoxing who very enthusiastically decided to listen to them PIA script.
Gu Sheng had originally planned to exit but was curious where Qiang Qing Ci could be as he still had not shown up yet.
She stayed but did not make any sound, listening in as these CVs joked around and made fun of one another.
“He’s now right beside me.” Jue Mei Sha Yi suddenly changed the topic after he came onto his microphone. He stressed that the “he” he was referring to was Qiang Qing Ci. “Your Qiang Qing Ci Sama’s computer suddenly broke down, so right now, the two of us are sharing the same mike.”
Gu Sheng could not help listening carefully.
Soon, Qiang Qing Ci’s voice spoke up. “I’m here. You guys continue.”
Now that Toupai had actually emerged, how could the fans let him off so easily? Unending comments continued to spam the screen, asking Qiang Qing Ci to say something to console them for the pain of having waited several hours.
Jue Mei laughed, “It looks like, if you don’t say anything today, I’m going to have a hard time explaining this.”
Qiang Qing Ci’s tone sounded a little resigned. “I’m very tired today.”
Instantly, all the zealous fans transformed into gentle, loving little lambs and comments started pouring in nonstop. “DaRen, hurry and get some rest now!” “Listen, listen! Even our DaRen’s voice has changed. My heart is breaking. T T” “Jue Mei DaRen, please stop enslaving our Toupai. He is so deserving of pity. He already rushed back, and now he is being oppressed by you…”
Jue Mei burst out in amused laughter. “Such injustice! I haven’t even made you do anything yet, and I’ve already been scolded for ‘enslaving.’”
“Let me think.” Qiang Qing Ci also seemed to sense that it would not do if he continued in this way. After pondering for a moment, he said, “I tried a dish today and thought it was pretty good.”
Jue Mei could not hold back his curse, “Cr*p!” and at the same time, Gu Sheng also instinctively lowered her head and glanced at the time.
Ugh. Twelve midnight. Toupai DaRen, you really do have an ability to attract vengeance upon yourself during the late-night hours.
Since the two of them were sharing a microphone, their voices sounded somewhat distant.
It was very easy to imagine those two men sitting facing each other as they spoke. Qiang Qing Ci said, “Let me go get a glass of water,” and then temporarily left the other male and female CVs to joke and poke fun at each other.
With a “hee hee,” Jue Mei said, “I’ll reveal this to you guys in private: he only likes to cook when he’s not a good mood.”
“Not in a good mood?” Over on Feng Ya Song’s side, there was the sound of a bag of crackers being torn open. “That’s why he’s taking revenge on society as a whole?”
Wanmei Voice Acting Group’s assistant leader, Dou Dou Dou Bing [Bean Bean Bean Cake] also piped in resentfully, “I have to go find the auntie in the dorm to buy cup noodles from her. Wait for me. But remember, this part has to be recorded, and tomorrow, I will post it on the website. That guy doesn’t say anything for a hundred years, and the instant he does, he’s talking about food in the middle of the night. So annoying.”
Amidst everyone’s rants and joking, only Gu Sheng seemed to feel that she was somewhat used to this already. After all, this was already the third time he did this. Could it be… he had never done it in the past?
“This late at night, let’s talk about vegetarian dishes.” Qiang Qing Ci seemed to have finished drinking his water and was now back at the microphone speaking. “Yuxiang-flavored thousand layer eggplant.”
Resting her chin in her palm, Gu Sheng could even imagine the taste of the yuxiang.
He truly sounded rather tired. His voice seemed to have somewhat deviated from his usual rich, gorgeous voice and was lighter and husky.
“It’s very simple. Mainly it consists of two parts: frying the eggplant and the ingredients for yuxiang seasoning.” While he spoke, he was entertained by the fans, who were ceaselessly spamming the screen with comments of how hungry they were. He gave a rare chuckle. “I only have time right now. Don’t want to listen? If you don’t want to listen, I’ll stop.”
The fans could not speak through their microphones, so, with love like tidewaters, they continued to inundate the screen with their comments. “No, don’t DaRen. (≥◇≤)” “(*>﹏<*) ~Qiang Qing Ci Sama, I waited three hours for you before you finally came. Don’t go, ah.” “o(“)o DaRen, even if you talked about the most sumptuous banquet, I could still take it……” “Hey, how come it’s all Toupai’s fans?! Feng Ya Song Sama, there are tens of thousands of ‘shou’ people in the world, but I only love you!!!!”
Gu Sheng was cackling with amusement.
“Alright, don’t try to keep everyone in suspense now. Hurry up and tell us, and after you’re done, you are going out with me to have a late-night snack,” Jue Mei pressed.
“Take two eggplants and slice them into thin layers. Put them into a pre-heated pan of oil and fry over low heat. When they are slightly softer than a French fry, you can pull them out.” Qiang Qing Ci carried on speaking at a steady pace, “Of course, if you like the crispiness of French fries, you could fry these a little longer.”
“I like it crispier,” Jue Mei threw in a comment.
“Then, panfry minced garlic and chopped chili peppers in the oil to get the aroma out first. Add the eggplant slices. After that, it’s quite simple. Remember these ingredients: light soy sauce, ground pepper, sugar, chicken bouillon, sticky broad bean paste [doubanjiang], vinegar, cooking wine. Stir fry all of these with the eggplant on high heat. Lastly, add peanuts and chopped green onions. Stir fry again rapidly and then immediately remove from the pan.”
“Mm-hmm… If the peanuts are fried too long, they’ll get soggy…” Jue Mei painfully tried to work with him.
Qiang Qing Ci answered seriously, “I suppose they would.”
Gu Sheng’s stomach was clearly a little unhappy right now… The feeling of longing for good food suddenly came coursing over her, swallowing all her ability to reason. She was debating whether to go to the kitchen or just head straight downstairs to see if there was any chow mein or stir-fried rice noodles or other similar street-side foods to buy. While she was still battling within herself on what to do, a private chat box from Qiang Qing Ci suddenly popped up: You there?
Gu Sheng hastily typed a reply: I’m here! O(∩_∩)O
Qiang Qi Ci: This is a vegetarian dish. It is very suitable for girls.
Gu Sheng: Okay! *cupped fist!* I’ll be sure to try another day!
Qiang Qing Ci: Okay. Going now. See you next time.
See you next time…… See you next time?!
Gu Sheng suddenly felt there was a need for her to stockpile all different sorts of dried pork, beef jerky, even canned luncheon meats, and other stuff along those lines before she dared again to meet with him — the one with the splendidly gorgeous and captivating voice and who was also an expert in all different types of recipes — Qiang Qing Ci DaRen…
 受 “shou.” In boy love fiction, the “shou,” which literally means “receiver,” would be the person taking on the more stereotypically “feminine” or “wife” role in a male-male relationship. However, it can be also be used to describe a male who, in terms of personality, speech, disposition, etc. is rather effeminate and passive.
 鱼香 ‘yuxiang.’ Literally means ‘fish fragrance.’ In Chinese cuisine, yuxiang is a specific form of seasoning that usually contains garlic, scallion, ginger, vinegar, sugar, salt, chili peppers, etc. However, there is no fish or seafood in it.
 Orig. 满汉全席. ‘Manchurian and Han Banquet.’ A legendary banquet that took place in the palace in the Qing dynasty. It had 108 different dishes and took place over three days.
Let’s talk YY for a bit and how it works, in case anyone is confused. Administrators of a channel have a lot of control. A room can be “locked,” which means it is password-protected. Most of the planning for the anniversary celebration was held in a private chatroom, and only those involved in the planning process had the password.
In this chapter, the rehearsal was made into a public event and hence, they used a chatroom that was not password-protected. Anyone could enter it and listen in. However, admins have control over who has “speaking rights” in the room. In this event, normal fans did not have speaking rights and their microphones would not register, but they were allowed to type comments.