“You’ve come back, huh, Rei.”
Due to what happened in our meeting with the Pope, Empress Dorothea welcomed me back in good spirits.
We were in the audience chamber in the Imperial Palace.
Dorothea, who was seated in her throne, was wearing her armor with her two swords sheathed by her waist just like usual.
Her normally sharp eyes were now narrowed and gazing joyfully at me.
“So, what brings you here today? Have you come to join my forces?”
“That’s not it. I came here to propose some ways to improve the Empire’s cuisine, Your Majesty.”
I refused her persistent offer once again, and cut straight to the chase.
Upon hearing my words, there was a visible scowl on the Empress’ face.
“What, that’s so boring. That’s what you’re here for, huh. That kind of thing is unnecessary. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my progress, even if it’s related to food, then everything is fine the way it is.”
“Is that so? Then let me just give it to you.”
I took something out of my bag.
At first glance, it looked like a biscuit.
“? What’s that?”
“It’s a type of nutritional provision, which is a necessity in battles. Please feel free to give it a taste.”
These so-called provisions were essentially military rations―― food that soldiers ate.
“Hmm…… provisions, huh.”
“Your Majesty, you can’t. Please let me taste test it for any poison first.”
“Quiet, old man. This girl isn’t the type to do something like that.”
“That’s not the problem here! What would we do if something were to happen to you?!”
An elderly man that looked like her aide desperately warned her against it.
The old man had a point here.
As the nation’s leader, she really shouldn’t be acting so gung-ho about eating something when she hadn’t confirmed its safety yet.
“In that case, I’ll eat half of it first.”
“Hm, would you do that for me? Apologies for troubling you.”
I split the biscuit-like object in half.
A sweet taste spread in my mouth.
It wasn’t just the taste of regular sugar though. There was the sweetness of dried fruits mixed in as well.
In addition, the butter gave it a rich texture.
This was a special biscuit that the cafeteria lady from the dining hall made.
The basic recipe was essentially the same as what the Empire used, but the amount of sugar and butter was increased, and dried fruits were added in as well.
In addition to the taste, the suggestion was also meant to improve its caloric and nutritional values.
“Hm, it’s delicious.”
“Here’s the recipe for it, and I’ve calculated the cost of labor and ingredients.”
“…… That’s quite expensive, isn’t it? No matter how delicious it is, our current situation is much better.”
Dorothea appeared to be unconvinced.
As I thought, she wouldn’t understand.
“Is that right? Compared to the current situation, these provisions bear four times as much nutritional value. Besides, just as Your Majesty has said, it tastes quite delicious as well.”
“Hoh……? In other words, we can lower transportation costs and boost morale with this, huh. Mm, that doesn’t sound too bad.”
“And this is just one such type as well. We’ll be adding all kinds of other food as well.”
“Well then, Rei Taylor. I’ll leave you in charge of that. Feel free to use as many people as you see fit.”
No, that would be a problem.
If I did that, I’d end up being further roped in by the Empire while colluding with them.
“Please stop trying to get people from other countries to join your military.”
“As long as you are capable, it doesn’t matter where you’re from for the Empire.”
“What would you do if I happened to make something highly poisonous or something that would wreck the body when consumed in excess?”
“Anybody that’s thinking of doing something like that wouldn’t tell me about it.”
“Perhaps I’m just cautioning you as a ploy to get you to let your guard down.”
It felt like Dorothea was the type who wasn’t wary enough about the people that she took a liking to.
She probably had a ton of confidence in herself.
She likely believed that she had a discerning eye, or even if she was mistaken, she could just beat them up in return.
It was remarkable how reckless she was.
Well, considering that it’s somehow been working out for her, perhaps I couldn’t call her completely reckless.
“Hmm…… How would you go about it then?”
“Don’t try to put it into practice immediately. Take about a year to ensure the food’s safety before you officially decide to mass-produce it.”
“If we work on it that slowly, your time here as an exchange student will be over by then.”
“Yes, so please have Philine-sama work on it too. She can take over for me afterward.”
“Philine, huh. Do you think she can handle it?”
“Philine-sama is a very capable person. Of course she’ll be able to handle it.”
“Hmm…… Let’s give it a try then.”
Alright, I’ve succeeded in not making any extra work for myself.
But this was just the beginning of our discussions.
“Your Majesty, on the topic of food, quantity and nutrition isn’t all there is to it.”
“Are you aware of what people have been saying about the Empire’s official cuisine?”
“Don’t know, don’t care.”
“They say it feels like they’re being poisoned.”
“Those words came straight from a diplomat’s mouth. That’s how terrible the current situation is surrounding the Empire’s cuisine.”
Upon hearing my words, Dorothea grimaced.
“The Empire is the only nation that serves such awful – blasphemous, even – cuisine to other people. Just with your food alone, I’m sure it has caused you to miss out on so many diplomatic opportunities.”
“Is it really that terrible?”
“It’s awful. Disgusting, even.”
Dorothea groaned when I reaffirmed it.
“What should we do then?”
“You’ll need a dietary reformation. Fortunately, the Empire has an abundance of ingredients that have been imported from several other countries. You should make use of that.”
Dorothea pondered to herself.
Perhaps she needed one last push.
“You love rationality above all, don’t you, Your Majesty?”
“In that case, you should correct the severe irrationality that currently exists in your nation.”
“And what would that be?”
“You’re forcing your chefs to cook horrible dishes on purpose. It’s such a waste, it’s like you’re just letting their arms rot.”
“……. Is it really that important?”
“Of course it is. We have to eat food every day, you know? If you let your chefs bring out their true potentials, you’ll be allowing a never-before-seen rich culture of food to flourish.”
“Culture, huh……. I’m not too familiar with that area……”
As somebody who loved rationality a little too much, she seemed puzzled.
The idea of culture was considered to be redundant and useless.
There was something that was written about this in a book from a while ago.
If you got rid of everything that was considered useless, there would be nothing left of culture.
“Well, even if you don’t want to do it for the sake of enriching your food culture, at the very least, there’s no doubt that it’ll help improve the number of diplomatic opportunities for the Empire.”
“Hmm. That sounds rational.”
“That’s why, Your Majesty, please give me your authorization.”
Dorothea made a face that looked like she didn’t understand.
“I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but do you really need my permission?”
“Eh? I mean, Your Majesty forbids luxurious meals, right?”
“I personally don’t like having fancy meals, but I’ve got nothing to say about other people’s diets.”
“Ahh, was that the case?”
So that was the situation.
The people around Dorothea were so careful of her that they thought they were just being considerate of her, but it seemed that their intentions got mixed up along the way.
Even though the person herself didn’t have such intentions whatsoever, this case was a bad example of what happened when people made too many assumptions.
“Your Majesty, you are far more influential than you think, so please be more careful about what you say or do.”
“Hm, so it would appear that way. Thanks for the advice.”
“Please follow it. On that note, Your Majesty, please announce to your people that they are free to improve their diets however they see fit.”
“Is that necessary?”
“It is necessary. Otherwise, you won’t be able to break your curse, Your Majesty.”
She said, like it was somebody else’s problem.
“So, just like I was asked, I’ll spearhead the dietary reformation. Do you have any objections?”
“None. You can do whatever you want.”
“You owe me one after this.”
“Sure, that’s fine.”
Alright, I got her word for it.
“I’ve got nothing else to say. I’ll leave immediately.”
“Okay. I like people that finish their work fast…… However, this won’t do. I’ve come to desire you more and more.”
“Like I said, I belong to Claire-sama.”
“Why don’t you and Claire become citizens of the Empire instead? You can get married here, you know?”
To be honest, the idea seemed kind of appealing.
…… Who am I kidding. What would happen if I actually got enticed by that?
“It doesn’t matter how it’s shown, Claire-sama and I are deeply in love with each other, after all.”
“Hmph, how unfortunate. Then that’ll be all. You’re dismissed.”
“Please excuse me.”
After concluding my audience with her, I returned to the Bauer dormitory.
Now then, let’s start a cooking boom in the Empire!