I could smell something delicious in the air even before the door to Sector 1 opened– Jurou had been hard at work, apparently! I hadn’t even thought about being hungry until just now, but my stomach was definitely rumbling.
Inside the cafeteria sat some other students who had been drawn out by the scent. Nikola piped up almost immediately, prompting the rest of the table to turn and look at me.
Aah! Um! Hi?
Hehehe… Did you find what you were looking for earlier?
Oh! Yes I did! And Ishi’s doing better now, she’s just got to stay resting in her room. I’m here to get her some supper, ahaha.
That’s great, I-I’m glad she’s, um, that it’s not too bad…
Man, speaking of… when’s the food gonna get done already?
Honoka thwapped him on the shoulder with her ever-present cane.
Be patient!! It’s extremely nice of Jurou to cook for all of us tonight, so don’t rush him!
Geez, I was just asking…
Gugalanna waddled out of the kitchen, as if on cue. I guess she’d been helping Jurou cook after Aoi shooed her away.
Just a few more minutes, amigos! It’s gonna be good!!
Must you always be yelling, Fräulein?
Why aren’t you yelling?! I know you got some pipes, fresa! Loosen up a little!!!
Please don’t start s-screaming at each other again…
I-I’m just glad someone here knows how to cook! The most I can do is like… grilled cheese.
Hmm, actually… Who else here likes to cook?
Honoka raised her own hand, and looked around at the others expectantly.
A few others raised their hands– Kapono, Nikola, Gugalanna, Yusra… Siegfried, too, after a little hesitation.
Seven! That works out nicely! One for each day of the week! I can cook supper tomorrow, and I’ll go make a sign-up sheet for the rest.~
She clapped her hands together decisively, and left the room with a bounce in her step before anyone could object, her tap shoes click-clacking against the floor.
The unwitting volunteers glanced around at each other, looking a little baffled.
What? I did not sign up for anything…
She probably should’ve asked properly first, but… Jurou shouldn’t have to cook every night! And it’ll give us something to do besides moping around, yes?
The rest of us can help too! Just– if it’s me you’ll have to show me what to do, ahaha.
It didn’t take too long to decide on a cooking order– Jurou, Honoka, Nikola, Gugalanna, Kapono, Yusra, Siegfried. We’d all be on our own for breakfast and lunch, but each volunteer would make supper on their designated day.
Siegfried may have been a little wary of the idea, but the others were pretty excited!
Oh this’ll be fun!! I’ve never cooked for such a big crowd before I wonder what kinds of stuff there’ll be to work with in the pantry I’ll have to hop in there once Jurou’s done…
…I hope there’s, um… a grill!
Hell yeah there is! Gonna make me some tlayudas!!
Oh hell yeah I haven’t had those in forever!
I… don’t know what those are, b-but I’m sure they’re great!
We are all from pretty different parts of the world, huh? I’ve never had Swedish food… or German.
Then you are in for a treat! Nothing like a gen-u-ine Swedish cinnamon bun!
That doesn’t sound like a very well-balanced meal…
Well of course there’ll be an entrée, dessert’s just the most important part! I’ll have you know I have an extensive repertoire of potluck dishes–
As Nikola began rattling off a list of recipes, I noticed Siegfried turning to Yusra with an almost apologetic frown.
…I do not make German food.
Oh, I suppose I jumped to conclusions, hm?
Meine mutter, she is Indonesian. She taught me the cooking that I know, though I will never match her skill.
I’m sure it’s wonderful, Siegfried!
He looked away, and his tiny smile faded. Why in the world would he be embarrassed about something like that…? Ah well, I wouldn’t bug him about it.
Everyone else began to list off recipes they knew, too– some familiar, some I’d never heard of, and all sounding so delicious right now that I almost had to ask them to stop. It wasn’t too much longer, though, before Jurou poked his head out of the kitchen.
It’s ready, y’all! Sorry for the wait! Guga, can ya help me carry this pot?
Gugalanna darted inside and emerged with a massive steel pot, filled to the brim with… soup? It wasn’t quite what I had expected from Jurou, though I wasn’t sure what I expected in the first place… but it was definitely the source of that wonderful smell!
She sat the pot down on the buffet bar as if it weighed less than a feather.
Now I ain’t had time t’go through and proper lookit all the stuff in the pantry, so’s just a quick batch o’ ramen wid whatever veggies was on the counter, hahaw. Ain’t real traditional, but it should taste alright!
As we gathered around Jurou’s culinary invention, the rest of the students began to trickle in.
What’s everybody looking at? Human food?~
I don’t know but it smells amazing!
Mm. I suppose the hick has something going for him after all–
Thwap! Honoka’s cane barely reached her shoulder, but it landed solidly enough for Riko to whirl around in disbelief.
I heard that! He has a name, you know! Go thank him properly or make your own supper if you're gonna be like that about it!!
I don’t have to do a thing you tell me–
Hahahaw, izzalright Honoka, there ain’t nuthin’ wrong with bein a hick, yeah?
He looked up at Riko with a capricious grin.
But y’ain’t gonna wanna bite th’ hand that feeds ya or yer gonna wind up wid a few extra tablespoons o’ cayenne in that there bowl!
There’s cayenne in th–? That’s, like, some weapons-grade shit!
It’s not that spicy, you’re just white.
Tiffani accepted the food regardless, and sniffed the bowl warily– which made me realize I’d gotten so distracted people-watching that I hadn’t tried my own bowl. And wow, did it taste every bit as good as it smelled! The pepper did sting a little, but pleasantly so.
Wow, this is–
The reviews started pouring in, overlapping mine.
Jurou, this is wonderful!
It’s not just good, it’s absolutely delightful! Delicious! De-lect-able!
I don’t know what the hell you put in this stuff but I am in L-O-V-E~
And you just– made this up on the spot?? If I didn’t know I’d say you were the Ultimate Chef!
Well gawsh, I’m glad y’all liked it, hahaw! There’s plenty fer seconds, help yerselves!
Ishi’s going to love this! Is there some tupperware or something in the kitchen so I can–
Already made some! Uh… One mo’!
He ran back into the kitchen for a moment, and returned with two plastic tubs that he practically tossed at me– it was a miracle I didn’t drop them.
Now y’tell Ishi, u-um, that I says howdy, and I hope she gets t’feelin’ better soon… yeah? An’ here’s one fer Aoi, too.
Yeah, sure, I’ll tell her. Thank you so much!
Hmmmm, did my eyes deceive me, or did somebody have a little crush? Poor guy, he’s much too nice for Ishi’s horrendous taste in men.
Armed with two bowls of the best ramen I’ve ever had in my life, I waved goodbye to Jurou and the others, and decided to call it a night.