Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The parties have tentatively agreed on a deal, but the details of the deal would have to be negotiated and expert evaluation would be required.
The gold belonging to the tribe was refined by primitive methods, as was silver, the purity of which was not uniform and the price of which was uncertain.
The price of snake venom and serum was not easy to determine. Li Du did not know about these things, and it was not easy to assess the price of animal fur, deer antlers, horns, various herbs and so on.
The ginseng the chief brought out was American ginseng, which Li Du was familiar with from the time he was in China. The ginseng was uniform in the head, cylindrical and spindle-shaped in appearance. It was six or seven centimeters in length and more than one centimeter in diameter.
This was wild American ginseng. It didn’t grow as big as Chinese or Korean ginseng. The specimens the tribe had reached the upper limit of wild ginseng growth.
The chief was a frank person, and so was Li Du, so they decided to cooperate and left each other a deposit.
Li Du gave him $10,000 in cash, and the chief gave him nuggets of gold, silver, snake venom and fur to take back for evaluation.
Counting the greenish dollar bills, the chief smiled. “I was right. You’re rich. You brought so much cash on a mountain climb.”
“We Chinese like to use cash,” said Li Du.
He studied the American ginseng, cut a piece with a dagger and placed it in his mouth to chew. It tasted somewhat unusual, slightly bittersweet, and his mouth was filled with the freshness of the plant when he spat out the residual.
The ginseng was so good in texture that even a layman like Li Du could tell it.
In this way, the Native Americans were very similar to the Chinese. Their pharmacology was based on herbs as well. At first, American ginseng was of little value in North America, and the natives were the only ones who used it.
Because the holy Wolf has given them a great harvest, the tribe decided to hold a big dinner again.
As long as they got enough food, they would enjoy it. The natives had no attitude of saving for the future, not that they were short-sighted, but that was their attitude towards life.
These people kept in mind that life is impermanent, that one couldn’t tell when one was going to leave the world, so it was better to take the time to enjoy yourself and be happy.
The value of food was to sustain life, and as long as there was enough food, there would be dinner parties, not just for food, but for entertainment.
Later, other hunting parties came back. Most of them had a harvest, many brought wild boars or birds, and a few had obtained some fish.
The fish they caught were small. There was not much big fish in the rivers and lakes in the mountains. Li Du did not know the species of these fish, but he expected that since they lived in the pollution-free mountains the quality of their meat was not bad.
When the fish were brought back, someone began to wash them carefully over and over again in a clear stream.
Seeing this, Li Du praised, “You put a lot of care into food preparation!”
The chief, who accompanied him, laughed and said, “Haha, this is not for cleanliness… well, not exactly. You see, we fish with a kind of poisonous grass, so we have to wash the fish carefully to prevent any toxic residue.”
After hearing this, Li Du decided not to eat this kind of fish later. Anyway, he didn’t like fish very much.
The amazing tale of Ah Ow was spread in the tribe, and the natives worshiped Li Du almost as they worshiped Ah Ow.
Unlike during the dinner party held yesterday, when Li Du strolled around the tribe, many people greeted him, and some people respectfully served him a bowl of homemade brew. This was low alcohol beer made from cassava, which was called jikai. It was an important part of Tavisi’s eating culture and a lubricant for their social activities.
The place where Li Du drank the beer served as the tribe brewery. Someone was making jikai there.
It was very simple to brew jikai, which was made of cassava. The women peeled the cassava with a machete and then washed it in the river. After that, they would put it into a pot to cook, and finally grind it with a mortar and leave it to ferment.
When it was about evening, another party came back with some eggs and a packet of other things. The children who had gathered around opened it and cheered, “Oh! Munish! Munish!”
Li Du looked at it, and then his face changed. The contents of the bag were worms, like silkworms, the larvae of some insects, white in color and wriggling together disgustingly.
The chief patted him on the shoulder and said, “Great, you can taste our special local delicacy.”
Li Du smiled awkwardly. “Do you mean these worms?”
“This is Munish. It tastes so good. It’s not easy to find them. You’ll know to appreciate them when they’re ready,” the chief said in jubilant tones.
Night fell, bonfires burned, and some young people beat on drums and gongs as the party began.
As before, more than a thousand people appeared on the hillside. Because of the terrain, the meeting place resembled a long line surrounded by the hillside.
The row of bonfires, at a distance, looked like a dragon.
As the gongs and drums beat, the girls jumped up to around the campfire, and the men and women began to sing with happy smiles on their faces.
The Markelov brothers also participated in the party. They went into the women’s crowd and began to flirt, while Brother Wolf and Firecracker were on the alert.
Li Du said, “It’s okay. They won’t mess with us. Just relax and enjoy.”
Brother Wolf shook his head and said, “No, boss, I don’t trust them.”
A terracotta pot hung over a campfire, heating to a red color as the flames burned.
At this time someone added some grease to the pot, then quickly put some fat bugs on it.
Almost at the same time, after the big worms were put in, the coarse clay pot was taken down. After a few jolts, someone poured the contents onto a plate and sent it to Li Du and the chief.
Looking at the dish of cooked worms, Li Du felt his appetite was gone, and said politely, “You all have it first, I’ll drink some wine.”
The chief did not wait. He grabbed a worm with his hand and ate it. The people around him swallowed saliva as if he were eating something delicious.
Women served up staples, including fish, chicken, brown rice with rosemary, spring onions, and a layer of mashed potatoes, which Li Du thought was good.
He took some mashed potato and put it in his mouth. It tasted better today. He nodded to the chief and said, “It tastes good.”
The chief chuckled, and said, “It’s got Munish in it.”
Li Du prodded apart the mashed potatoes and sure enough, there were several fat worms baked inside!
Some of the worms were cut in half, which meant that the other half was in his stomach.
Li Du felt a little sick, but it did taste good, so he stopped looking and went on eating contentedly.