Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Those who had nothing better to do stopped in their tracks, wishing to watch the subsequent developments. They also took photos and posted on their WeChat Moments: “Encountered a silly monk today. He wants to use that net to scoop up mermaids. I want to see if he manages to do it or gets sent to the mental institute.”
Fangzheng ignored them, and he looked up at Shao Gang. “Patron Shao, is that your home?”
“No. It’s all offices here. This is my office.” Shao Gang shook his head.
Shao Chong said, “My brother has a tiny studio. That there is his studio.”
Fangzheng said, “Patron, can This Penniless Monk visit it?”
“Oh? Master, aren’t you going to scoop up mermaids?” Before Shao Gang could say a word, a store owner couldn’t help but quip.
Everyone imagined Fangzheng would fume, but Fangzheng ended up looking at him seriously, smiling. “Later. There’s no rush.”
Upon hearing this, many people burst out laughing. This monk was really interesting! This was the first time they were seeing someone speaking nonsense in such a serious manner. It was as though whatever he said was real. Everyone’s interest towards Fangzheng was piqued.
Although they felt that Fangzheng was raving madness, Shao Gang’s heart palpitated the moment he thought of Fangzheng’s kick. He kept feeling that the crazy monk wasn’t someone ordinary. Therefore he said, “Master, in that case, do come up. I have a good pot of tea here.”
Fangzheng nodded and followed Shao Chong up. However, Shao Chong ran quickly while Fangzheng slowly followed behind him.
Red Boy secretly asked, “Master, isn’t that counted as lying? Why do I feel like you have lied several times today? We don’t have those rules you mentioned, right?”
Fangzheng smiled. “When did This Penniless Monk lie? Of course, we don’t have those rules because there’s no one else cultivating on our mountain. If anyone were to come, those rules would take effect. This Penniless Monk was only talking about a future rule, so how can it be considered lying?”
“Uh…” Red Boy was taken aback. “Master, do you really not plan on taking in other disciples?”
Fangzheng sighed. “If it were possible, This Penniless Monk would also wish to take in thousands of disciples, but seeing how the lot of you are, This Penniless Monk has wiped that thought off his mind. Having just a few of you has vexed me so much. Having thousands would frustrate me to death.”
“Master, aren’t you afraid of being struck by lightning?” Red Boy grunted. How could a master show such disdain for his disciples?
Fangzheng said, “What I’m saying is really the truth. Think about it. How’s our Crystal Rice production? If a bunch of disciples were to come, they would probably eat me to poverty by tomorrow. Of course, there are also other reasons. Some things are not suitable to be known by too many people.
Red Boy smacked his lips. What Fangzheng said did seem to make sense. With more people, meals would be a problem. With the tiny bit of Crystal Rice they had, he didn’t wish to share it with more people. How much would be eaten in total didn’t matter to him, the key point was that his rice would be split! No way! Absolutely no way! Therefore, Red Boy decided that he would fully support Fangzheng’s decision.
“Master, then what about the mermaid? Don’t tell me that there are really mermaids in this world. I don’t believe it. There are absolutely no demons in this world!” Red Boy said with great certainty. “You definitely lied.”
Fangzheng chuckled without explaining. “You’ll know in a while.”
At this moment, Shao Chong was already waiting by the door so as to welcome Fangzheng and Red Boy in.
The moment they entered, Fangzheng saw a huge signboard hanging on the wall across him. On it were the words: “Dawu Native Specialty Supply.” Looking around the area, there were indeed many items which were packaged nicely, giving off a premium feeling. Fangzheng recognized some of them, but not all.
At this moment, Shao Gang came over and smiled. “We brothers are in the business of local specialties. These are the various specialties of Dawu. Master, haven’t you seen them before?”
Fangzheng shook his head. “This Penniless Monk has seen the rice before; same for lotus rhizome and corn, but there are a few items This Penniless Monk really hasn’t seen before.”
Fangzheng pointed to a purple vegetable that looked like a mix of chives and garlic.
Upon hearing that, Shao Gang chuckled. “These are some of our specialties. The thing you call a mix of chives and garlic is something we call Allium. Of course, Allium is produced in many other placed, but our Allium is different. This is Shu’an Allium, a local specialty of our Jiangxia district in Hubei province’s Dawu City. A few years ago, it was examined by the National Quality Technical Inspection Bureau and placed under the Provisions on the Protection of Geographical Indication Products. According to the Fundamentals of Agriculture and Sericulture, early in the Southern Song dynasty, residents of this area already cultivated large plots of Shu’an Allium and this has never stopped since. Although Dawu’s many county cities have Allium, Shu’an has the best. Shu’an has the Liangzi Lake, and due to its special geography and soil quality, the Allium produced in it has a unique taste. It has many layers, is white in color, and its flesh is crispy and evenly proportioned. It was considered a tribute item in the Qing dynasty and was also included in the Manchu Han Imperial Feast.”
As he spoke, Shao Gang took out a clove of Allium and sliced it open. Indeed, there were layers inside it, and the colors were white. Just a slight peel caused it to create a crisp snapping sound, as though fresh juices would ooze out. Furthermore, the Allium was about the same size. As for taste, it had the smell of garlic, but it was different. It had a unique sweetness to it.
As Shao Gang introduced his wares, he led Fangzheng to his office. Fangzheng realized that many specimens of the local specialties were hung in Shao Gang’s office, as well as descriptions about them.
Red Boy kept looking upwards when he suddenly interrupted. “Patron Shao, you also sell rice here? Isn’t it said that rice from the northeast is the best?”
Shao Gang smiled. “The northeast has black soil which is rich in nutrients. There is a vast difference in temperatures during the night and day, and since rice paddy’s have a long growth time, the nutrients and sugar content of northeastern rice are rich and high. It’s indeed excellent rice. However, our rice here has something unique about it. It’s called Fasi rice, a product of Fasi Town’s Mount Guizi of the Jiangxia district in Hubei province’s Dawu City and the Golden Water River. The soil in that region is rich in nutrients, and there’s plenty of rain. The geographical environment is unique, and the rice grains produced are proportionate and brightly colored with a shimmering oil layer. It’s clear like glass with a whitish tint and is definitely number one among similar strains of rice. It’s also known as Great Fasi Rice because of how excellent it is. Fasi rice is highly nutritious and easily digestible. It doesn’t cause gastric ulcers or any other similar symptoms. It was also included on the list of Provisions on the Protection of Geographical Indication Products with Allium.
“Great Fasi Rice has a long history, from even before the Tang dynasty. Legend has it that in the middle of the Tang dynasty, Mount Guizi produced a crown prince. Golden Water River was made a moat that protected the city. Using the water from the river to irrigate the paddies, the rice produced was sticky, fragrant, delicious, and refreshing, simply tantalizing to the taste buds. Consuming it for prolonged periods of time could supposedly make one ‘immortal.’ Locals also gave it a nice name—Immortal Water Cinnamon. Later it was served at the Crown Prince’s imperial court dinner.”
Red Boy shook his head when he heard that. “Tsk, I nearly believed your bragging.”
Shao Gang laughed out loud and thought nothing of it. Instead, it was Shao Chong who wasn’t happy. “What my brother said is the truth. These are all historical facts that can be verified. You can check them yourself if you don’t believe us!”