Therefore, Fangzheng told Yang Hua sincerely, "Patron, Laba Congee is more meaningful when prepared personally by a monk. It should not be completed through the help of others."
Yang Hua said, "Is that so?"
Fangzheng nodded which made Yang Hua give up. Yang Hua said, "Alright, since you are holding a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha, I'll promote it for you when I get back. We should get more people here. Well... At the very least, my entire family will definitely be here!"
Fangzheng thanked Yang Hua before sending him off.
"Man, from that tone, it sounds like not many people will come." Fangzheng shook his head slightly before going to the back kitchen. Cooking Laba Congee was not a simple task. It was quite troublesome with him needing to manage the fire and handle the pots.
As Fangzheng busied himself...
The foot of the mountain erupted into chaos when Yang Hua returned.
"What? Fangzheng is going to run a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha? Hehe, this kid is impressive! I have to support him no matter what!"
"Old Li, weren't you planning on going to Hongyan Monastery?"
"Why the hell would I go there!? How can I not support one of our own and support others?! Furthermore, didn't Hongyan Monastery's Master Hongyan say that efficacy depends on sincerity! It's the same no matter where."
The moment these people did some promoting, everyone in the village quickly learned of the event. However, many villagers were discussing the matter, unsure where to go now.
At that moment, there was a loud trumpet that sounded through the village!
"Alert! Alert! On Laba Day, One Finger Temple will hold a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. The village has decided to support One Finger Temple so as to further develop our own temple. Therefore, I hope that everyone will go to One Finger Temple to participate in the Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. Of course, the choice is yours! Those who want to go, the village will organize to go together. Come to my house to register. Also, bring your own bowls. There's no need to mention how poor that kid Fangzheng is, right?" Wang Yougui's voice was heard.
When everyone heard that, they were immediately amused.
At that moment, a voice hollered, "Everyone watched this child, Fangzheng, grow up. This is the first time One Finger Temple is having a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. Everyone should go and make it lively."
It was the old village treasurer, Tan Juguo, who said this.
When the discussing villagers heard the village chief and the secretary's intentions, they decided that they would go together since Fangzheng was quite a nice child.
Wang Yougui had only tried hollering without bearing much hope, but never had he expected that the villagers would support it that much. Over the day, he did a headcount and immediately smacked his thigh in regret. He shouted, "Oh no! Oh no!"
"What? What's the problem?" Yang Ping asked puzzled.
Wang Yougui said with a wry smile, "All I had in mind was to help Fangzheng rope in people. Great, now we have 336 people!"
Yang Ping was also a little dumbfounded hearing that. He said, "Isn't that like almost everyone in the village?"
"It's almost the new year, and every family's children are back. The men's wives and children are all here, so it's not strange for there to be this number. The people from the village want to come to support Fangzheng, but the others are only there to join in on the buzz. Sigh. With so many people, do you think Fangzheng can prepare that much Laba Congee?" Wang Yougui asked worriedly.
Yang Ping's eyes lit up as he said with a laugh, "If he can't prepare enough, he can give more water! Heh heh, his water is nice anyway."
Wang Yougui was taken aback before he laughed as well, "Indeed. I'll give him a call later so that he will make the necessary preparations ahead of time. I don't want things to turn out in such a way that there won't be enough water to drink when everyone goes up. That would truly be a letdown."
Having said that, Wang Yougui gave Fangzheng a call and told him the headcount. He also asked if Fangzheng had sufficient ingredients for the Laba Congee. If there wasn't enough, he would try to help.
Fangzheng had originally thought that a dozen or two dozen people would be pretty good, but when he heard that there were more than three hundred people, Fangzheng immediately rolled his eyes back in shock. He had the urge to faint! So many servings of Laba Congee?
Fangzheng regretted letting Yang Hua leave. Was it possible for him to make that much alone?
However, on further thought, it was truly because of their relationships that the villagers gave up on the large monasteries to go to his small temple. They were full of faith and affection, so how could he be heartless and show ingratitude? Not only did he need to prepare the Laba Congee himself, but he also needed to use the best ingredients and do it to his utmost best!
Having made up his mind, Fangzheng said to Wang Yougui, "Patron Wang, This Penniless Monk has no other requests other than wanting two additional pots. Also, prepare your own bowls!"
Wang Yougui was immediately amused. He assured him and told him to leave everything to him.
On the second day, Wang Yougui led a few people to bring up five large metallic pots. At the same time, they helped Fangzheng set up five simple cooking stoves. Yang Hua also brought people to deliver timber. With Fangzheng and Lone Wolf also picking up some, it was already enough.
After sending off everyone, Fangzheng looked at the row of large pots and up into the sky. He lamented, "Am I courting death by doing this?"
At that moment, a wok's lid moved.
Fangzheng frowned and thought, "Did something run into the pot?"
When he opened to take a look, Fangzheng was immediately amused. He saw that Squirrel was hiding inside with his stash of pine nuts!
"Little fellow, must you hide that bit of pine nuts of yours in such a manner? Why are you so selfish? Alright, the pine nuts are confiscated as payment for your food," Fangzheng said with a loud laugh as his thick-skinned act left the little fellow infuriated. Squirrel flashed his claws by puffing his cheeks to threaten Fangzheng but had his private stash stolen nonetheless.
In terms of taste, the pine nuts were naturally not as tasty as Crystal Rice. However, having eaten Crystal Rice daily, snacks on the mountain ended up becoming precious. Furthermore, Squirrel was quite shrewd. He would not be interested in ordinary pine nuts. The ones he collected would definitely be full in volume and extremely oily, tasty ones! This also became one of Fangzheng's most favorite snacks. This caused Squirrel to be on guard daily. The pine nuts he gathered were hence hidden everywhere.
And this also gave Fangzheng another reason to clean the templeto search for snacks!
With Fangzheng stealing his stash, Squirrel chased up in fury. He kept pulling at Fangzheng's ears, but Fangzheng did not feel any pain.
"System, the pots are prepared. What about the ingredients? Where is the recipe?" Fangzheng stood in front of the back kitchen. He rubbed his somewhat hungry belly and wondered. He had a slightly selfish motive. The products of the System would definitely exquisite items. There was no reason why he could not taste such exquisite congee first!
"They will temporarily not be provided. However, you can be given a small bowl of Laba Congee as a sample. You can have a taste first."
After that, a tiny bowl appeared in front of Fangzheng. It was truly a small bowl. It was the size of a tiny palm, which was a tiny portion indeed!
When Fangzheng saw this, he grumbled, "System, you are really stingy!"
The moment his voice faded away, the golden glow effusing from the Laba Congee vanished. Fangzheng's eyes instantly stared straight at it!
Inside the tiny bowl, there was white and yellow rice, there were crystalline lotus seeds, humongous red chinese dates etc. Despite all the ingredients being mixed together, they appeared quite distinct from each other. The red was fiery red in color. The white was crystalline white. The yellow was resplendent and so on. When all the ingredients were mixed together, it was no bowl of congee. It was clearly a piece of art! The ingredients also did not seem like mere condiments. They seemed no different from pearls, jade, or gold. It was so beautiful that Fangzheng could not bear to eat it!