Shall We Dance?
“A ball…… huh…….”
The next morning, our teacher made an announcement about an upcoming ball that would be hosted by the Imperial Academy.
It was also meant to be Philine’s public debut, so it seemed that it was going to be a grand event.
I had no issues with that fact itself.
It was a cause worth celebrating, so that was fine.
The problem was that it seemed I had no choice but to attend the ball.
“You seem dissatisfied, Rei.”
Claire-sama said while we were having lunch in the classroom during our break.
Philine, Lana and Frieda were with us as well.
“Of course I’m dissatisfied. You know this too, don’t you, Claire-sama? I’m terrible at dancing.”
“Oh, that’s surprising. You seem like the type of person who could do anything, Rei.”
“Dancing is easy! All you need to do is move your body around with burning hot passion.”
“No, ballroom dancing is the complete opposite of that.”
I retorted in response to Frieda, who was just saying whatever she wanted.
Well, there is some self-expression involved when it came to ballroom dancing, but that was something that only concerned high-level dancers.
“If you’re not good at it, wouldn’t it make for a good opportunity then? I’ll give you some special training just like back when we practiced for the Offering Dance.”
“Eh. Am I going to be wearing that gear again?”
“Do you have some kind of a problem with that?”
I was happy that Claire-sama would be giving me her attention, but wearing that gear was seriously tiring.
Just thinking about back when we prepared for the Offering Dance made me feel worn out.
Today’s meal was a boxed lunch that we brought from home.
I learned my lesson after our trip to the dining hall yesterday.
Today’s menu consisted of――
Flavored fried chicken.
A green onion omelet.
And namul made with bell peppers.
That was the simple meal I prepared.
The menu was by no means elaborate, but I felt confident in my work.
Even Philine-sama had been eyeing Claire-sama’s lunch box for a while now.
“Claire-sama, what do you think about today’s lunch?”
I casually asked her for her impressions.
“It’s incredibly delicious. As always, thank you very much, Rei.”
And said that in response.
That smile was something that I could not get enough of.
I should eat as well.
I started off with the fried chicken.
Since we’ve been receiving some financial aid from Bauer as a result of attending the exchange program, we didn’t have to worry too much about our food expenses.
For that reason, the meat that I used to make the fried chicken was made of thigh meat rather than breast meat.
I prepared it with cooking wine and salt and then marinated it with a special seasoning paste that I made myself before leaving it to dry for about ten minutes.
After that, I coated it with potato starch and fried it with a little bit of oil.
When I bit into it, the aroma of various different spices from the seasoning paste drifted in the air.
The juices from the meat that filled into my mouth were a bit cold, but it was still delicious nonetheless.
Next was the green onion omelet.
This one probably didn’t need that much of an explanation.
All you had to do was mix some finely chopped green onions with the liquid egg and then fry it normally.
The laborious part of making it was trying to add the secret flavor of mayonnaise and a bit of sugar in it.
I personally wasn’t that big of a fan on sweet omelets, so I’d add more of the mayonnaise than the sugar.
This was Claire-sama’s favorite dish, so I made sure to add it to our lunch boxes every day.
Finally, I had the namul.
This would’ve been the easiest thing to make had we been in twenty-first-century Japan, but in this world, this was the most troublesome dish out of all of them.
If we were in Japan, all you had to do was douse some finely chopped bell peppers with salt and sesame oil, then mix it in with chicken stock powder before popping it into a microwave, and finally, shake some sesame seeds onto it.
However, in this world, we were missing something essential.
It…… wasn’t the microwave or anything.
It was the chicken bone broth powder.
Things like consommé, chicken bone broth powder, fish broths, and other kinds of MSG…… these types of amino acid-based seasonings were really at the forefront when it came to cooking.
I only became painfully aware of just how important they were when I came into this world.
It would take an incredibly long time to make substitutes for them.
Each of them required some kind of animal meat, fish, bones, or vegetables, and you’d have to spend a ton of time boiling them down.
Of course, you’d have to skim the scum off a countless amount of times while doing it.
In this world, consommé soup and tuna broth are just some hidden mysteries among shops.
On that note, I’ve also thought about how I could make some kind of imitation consommé.
This was what I came up with.
You’d need to get some cut-up carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms and thinly sliced shiitake.
Place them in a sieve and then leave them out to dry in the sun.
And then roast the onions in a frying pan.
Grind all of the ingredients up in a bowl.
And then add some salt for the finishing touch.
I don’t usually use meat for this recipe, so there’s not a lot of substance to it, but it’s much better than having to make it from scratch every single time.
I’ve thought of having Blume mass-produce it and sell it in the future, but I felt that if I ended up doing it, a lot of restaurants would have issues with it.
Let’s return to the main topic.
Well, because of that, I had to use that imitation consommé when making the namul.
It was still delicious when eaten, though.
People that don’t dislike bell peppers could probably eat it as much as they’d want, and I’m sure even those who disliked them would be okay with it as well.
Originally, this recipe was a variant of a really popular green pepper salad from my previous world.
The recipe basically consisted of a lot of green peppers that you could eat almost endlessly, but I digress.
Anyway, I used this recipe for Claire-sama and Alea, who both disliked peppers.
When I looked over to Claire-sama’s lunch box, I could see that the namul was steadily decreasing.
It looked like I accomplished my objective today.
“Claire-sama, please say ‘ahh’.”
“We’ve only done just that, haven’t we?”
“In that case, it should be fine then. Come on, say ‘ahh’.”
“I-I’m so jealo…… no, I mean, h-how shameless……”
“Me too! Me too, please!”
“Hey, Lana! Stop staying so silent, let’s have Rei feed us too!”
“…… Eh? Me too?”
“Ahh, geez. Doing something troublesome again!”
Even though she said that, Claire-sama opened her mouth to let me feed her the fried chicken.
“Wait a minute, Claire! Before you let Rei feed you, why don’t you practice it with me first? I think it’s a good idea. Let’s do it!”
“Hold on, what are you saying, trying to take advantage of the situation?”
“If you don’t want to do it, then should I just rehearse it with Rei-san first!? Are you okay with that!?”
“What kind of a threat is that!?”
The rest of our meal went on with that level of liveliness.
“Haah…… Well, speaking of which, do you like dancing, Philine-sama?”
While cutting her green onion omelet, Claire-sama posed the question to Philine.
“To be honest, not really…… Well, I’m used to dancing since it’s something I’ve been learning ever since I was a kid, but I don’t really like having to dance with gentlemen.”
Philine wore a downhearted look on her face.
She had a slight phobia of men, it seemed.
It couldn’t be helped since she was raised as a sheltered princess.
“What about you, Claire?”
“I quite like it. I think dance is a good form of communication. Even if you’re not so good at expressing yourself through your words, you can always show each other your feelings through dancing. Dance seems to be a great place to start to get close to people.”
She’s just a regular citizen nowadays, but Claire-sama was originally a flower of high society.
She has probably danced with a lot of men.
Ever since she was little, no less.
On that note, I made an important realization.
I have never danced with Claire-sama before.
We practiced together for the Offering Dance, but in the end, we didn’t actually dance with each other.
Well, to be more exact, we spent the entire time practicing with each other, but even when we technically “danced together” during the Offering Dance, it wasn’t the same as ballroom dancing.
We’ve never held hands or danced by bringing our bodies together before.
“Claire-sama, could you teach me how to ballroom dance?”
“Oh, what’s with you all of a sudden? Although, it’s good that you’re feeling motivated.”
“Well, we’re being given a good opportunity, so I want to take advantage of it and dance with you on the occasion.”
“Rei, isn’t ballroom dancing normally done between a man and a woman?”
Well, she was right about that.
“Oh? Do people of the same sex not dance together in Bauer? It’s totally normal in the Empire!”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Empire permits same-sex marriages too, after all.”
Philine responded to the question that Claire-sama posed to Frieda.
“See, there’s no problem with it. On that note, please dance with me at the ball, Claire-sama.”
“Fufu, alright then. In exchange, can you wear a dress during the event, Rei?”
“Don’t ‘ehh’ me. I haven’t seen you wear a proper dress yet, you know? Even when you had an audience with the late majesty Rousseau, you wore dress pants instead.”
I mean, I wasn’t really a fan of skirts.
I had to put up with it when wearing my school uniform, but if I had to say, I didn’t like them all that much.
Besides, if I had to wear a dress for a ball, wouldn’t I need to wear that?
You know, an evening dress?
“Don’t make that kind of face. Even I want to see you wearing something cute every now and then. I want to see you in an evening dress, Rei.”
“Ah……. Well, if you insist, then I’ll think about it.”
“Fufu, I’m looking forward to it.”
While we were in the middle of our conversation,
“Rei Taylor. Can I have a moment?”
A voice suddenly called out to me.
As I wondered who it was, I looked over to where it was coming from. There, I saw a familiar figure standing by the classroom entrance.
“Oh, if it isn’t Hilda. What’s the matter?”
The person Philine was addressing was Hildegard Eichrodt.
She was an excellent bureaucrat in the Empire, whom we cooperated with during the Pope’s Imperial visit.
She was also one of the love interests in RevoLily.
Her monocle was still as shiny as ever today.
“I’ll go and see what’s up.”
I got up, leaving behind the almost finished lunch box and parted from Claire-sama.
“Is there anything you need from me?”
“I apologize for calling out to you so suddenly. I would earnestly like to ask for a favor from you.”
Mm, I had a bad feeling about this.
“Could I ask you for your help in preparing the food for the upcoming ball?”