“…Quite the fancy feast.”
Amane looked at the dining table, and blurted out his true thoughts.
It was a birthday feast, with many dishes on the table, all of of which were foods Amane liked.
Mahiru usually would emphasize on nutritional balance, but this day was different. There were egg dishes laid next to each other, probably due to Amane’s open proclamation of his fondness of eggs. He loved them, and they were nutritious, but it would be bad too indulge excessively. Thus, he would usually be restricted to a day’s worth of serving, but this limit was removed just for this day.
The most eye-catching on the dinner table was a beef stew with hard baked omelette rice, which she hardly made, as it was to be prepared since the previous day.
Also, there was chawanmushi, potato salad with lots of steamed eggs, boiled pork with eggs. There was sufficient food for an ordinary high school boy, and also various things Amane liked. There were hardly any vegetables, not because he hated them, but that he loved to eat them.
“I made the dishes you like, Amane-kun, and did not think of the type or nutritional balance. It is fine to indulge once in a while.”
I shall add more vegetables the next day. So Mahiru said with an elegant giggle. She might have sensed how delighted Amane was, for her face was a little red.
“Also, we have the dashimaki for tomorrow’s breakfast. I made too much this time, and I feel that it will be more fragrant if I leave it to tomorrow. I shall also prepare the salmon saikyo yaki . Will miso soup with tofu and daikon work?”
“That’s quite a feast early in the morning…well, it’s already a feast in front of me.”
“Fufu. Please hurry and eat before it gets go. The meat in the meat stew is still very tender.”
“Great. The omelette rice of the beef stew is justice.”
This favorite dish of Amane was hardly served as it would take too much effort. He wanted to squeal in joy, and contained these emotions in his heart as he clapped his hands together.
Itadakimasu, he did not forget to say his thanks, and immediately stuffed the omelette rice of the beef stew into his mouth. He naturally showed a smile.
The beef was sufficiently tender to be cut with a spoon, and it did not feel dry when he ate it. It felt very delicious, and on first bite, he knew the meat was of top quality.
It had completely absorbed the flavor, and was of perfect harmony with the omelette rice. Amane nodded away conscientiously as he quickly savored the other dishes, not forgetting his etiquette. Mahiru too ate elegantly as she giggled at Amane.
“…What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. I feel a sense of accomplishment when you are enjoying the food so much, Amane-kun.”
“It’s really delicious after all. Of course it’s appropriate for me to say it’s the best thing.”
“I am content if you think it is the best. Of course, I shall not rest on my laurels.”
This stoic Mahiru had Amane smiling wryly, and he continued to dig in, the plates were cleared in an instant.
There was quite the variety, but each serving was well controlled, and he was prone to hunger especially after work, so he managed to finish them easily.
Amane cleaned off the plates nicely, and Mahiru showed a satisfied smile, slowly got up, and put the utensils in the basin.
Amane wanted to get up and assist her, but “the star of the show should relax”, but Mahiru intimidated him with much gentleness, and so he sat back at his chair dejectedly.
Once all the utensils were cleared from the table, Mahiru showed another smile at Amane.
“There is dessert after dinner. I hope you will enjoy this.”
“…Is that what you had been practicing?”
“Yes. I am a little displeased with my efforts, and am still hesitant on presenting so…so I modified the recipe heavily so that you should be able to like it, Amane-kun.”
So that would explain why she was worried about getting fat.
It seemed Mahiru had been making and tasting. It would depend on the type of sweets, but they typically were high calories, and it would be no wonder that she was worried about high calorie intake.
“Actually, you can do everything well, Mahiru…though it’s rude for me to say this. I’m glad that you’re giving so much effort for me, but don’t force yourself, you know?”
“I am not…I just need to exercise a little more after this.”
“That hard work is the reason why your body hasn’t changed. Really, that self-discipline is amazing.”
“It is all within the margin of error, and my waistline has not changed significantly. I shall bring it out then..”
So she said, and took out a plate from the fridge, probably containing the chocolate cake she personally made.
And with a clank, the plates were served on the table.
The cake was already cut into bite slices, and she silently placed them on the other plates.
He looked at the object before him, and it probably was gateau chocolate, or more akin to raw chocolate. Appearance-wise, it had a firm and solid impression.
After that, Mahiru added some cream and mint, but it appeared to be a really simple one.
“I chose to make gateau chocolate. You are not particularly fond of sweets, Amane-kun, so I feel it will be more palatable if you have it with a beverage. I chose milk for this, given the richness of the flavor. It is better if both are eaten together.”
“If the maker says this is the best way to eat it, I’ll eat it gratefully.”
Mahiru put in so much effort in making this, and surely she would not be wrong. Amane showed no worry as he stabbed the fork into the gateau chocolate while Mahiru watched on.
As per its appearance, the cake was taut when he tried to poke at it it.
Nevertheless, it was easy to cut. He took a bite, gently put it into his mouth…and the first thing he tasted was the rich flavor of chocolate.
The gateau chocolate was a little more similar to raw chocolate. Put it, it was sticky and gooey.
Yet at the same time, it was different from raw chocolate. He could feel a silky skin in his mouth, and the hardness of the coating was exquisite.
The sweetness was controlled, and one could certainly feel the depth and sweetness of the chocolate. One could sense that the chocolate was adjusted to its maximum possible level.
He blurted out what he really thought, and Mahiru heaved a sigh of relief, smiling,
“It is great that it suits your tastes. I wanted a taste and feeling that is just right.”
“It’s really great. It’s amazing how you managed to do it this well.”
“Fufu, I really feel accomplished to have such a reaction. It seemed my efforts were not for naught.”
She made a bell-like giggle, and beamed giddily as she saw Amane click his tongue while eating the gateau chocolate.
“Also, did you notice any other flavor in this?”
Once asked, Amane closed his eyes, and focused on his taste buds.
There was certainly a rich sweetness, and also a fragrance and bitterness distinct from chocolate.
It was a fragrance Amane often scented upon at work recently.
“Hm…coffee…hmmm? Wait…our shop?”
The delicate flavor and rich fragrance heavily resembled the coffee provided at his workplace.
It was half a guess, “You are completely correct.” and Mahiru said so with a grin, her hands clapped together.
“Ah, I have not been there to have a look though? I had Kido-san buy some coffee beans from your workplace, Amane-kun. The owner even helped to blend and ensure the chocolate taste is richer. I really had to thank them lots.”
“Even Itomaki-san’s an accomplice…well, she’s been grinning a lot recently, now that I think about it…”
He did not expect the owner Itomaki-san to get involved. He sensed cold sweat trickling down his heart, and probably would have a hard time during his next shift.
It was true however that the coffee was good. Amane heard that freshly grounded coffee was delicious, and he too wanted to buy a coffee machine, but he did not expect to taste it in this manner.
“Fufu, I merely asked of Kido-san, but news spread before I knew it…and they heartily helped out. Good thing it did not reach your ears, Amane-kun.”
Amane felt bashful because of how Mahiru toiled relentlessly for his sake.
He thought of cutting the gateau chocolate to hide his embarrassment from Mahiru, but she gently stopped him, and snatched the fork from his hand.
He lifted his face, and their eyes met as Mahiru gave an alluring smile.
“We finally have a chance. Shall I feed you? I feel I should be feeding you on your birthday.”
“Eh, n-no, that’s.”
“Do not worry about it.”
Mahiru seemed to imply that whatever Amane was tentative about, she would shoo it aside, and she took the gateau chocolate to his mouth. Amane stammered, and obediently ate the cake.
Mahiru knew that he definitely was not unwilling, which was why she did so. The embarrassment stung at him lightly, but he sank in the bliss rising within his body.