Chapter 71 – Making Salt (last part)
The gathered sand was blanketed inside an unusually large water tank.
Then, Rau doused it with saltwater.
His whole body was thoroughly forged, and there was not even a bit of fat appearing on it.
The heavy sand and saltwater continued to move one after another.
It seemed that there was a thin pipe below the water tank, which the poured saltwater would flow through.
– It’s the procedure for extracting the salt component from the accumulated sand. We have covered the bottom of the tank with various things in order to not let the running water mix with the sand.
– And you have to repeat this process many times?
– That’s because there’s no way for the salt to flow through completely in one go, you see.
While hearing Rau’s explanation, Eiji shifted his sight ahead.
In front of him, there was another large tank, which, he understood, should be the streaming saltwater’s destination.
Was Rau trying to convey his explanation to Eiji? They were in the middle of the process; nevertheless, he would move between places.
There was no way for Eiji and Fernando to stick to the work and watch it all the time.
Being grateful for Rau showing them, they followed his back.
– When the saltwater is stored inside the tank, there will be small particles gathering at the bottom. That’s why, the seawater is actually used for salt making only after its top layer becomes clear.
What surprised Eiji were the valve and the pipe furnishing the tank, with a bronze pot placed in front of them.
The seawater would naturally gush forth once the valve was opened, such was the mechanism.
If one was to say, it was a water system which utilized the difference in height and depth of the water.
Below the pot, there was firewood already arranged and ready to be kindled at any time.
The whole procedure would advance semi-automatically.
I guess, we can’t lose to that – Eiji thought.
Perhaps, there was a need to further increase the production efficiency in Siena by utilizing the dynamic force coming from a watermill.
For that reason, it was probably necessary to raise the number of carpenters and people who would engage in production activity.
Not being aware of the resolution inside Eiji’s heart, Rau continued his explanation while pointing out the pot.
– The accumulated seawater will be next placed on top of the fire. As soon the water begins disappearing, closely packed amounts of salt will begin forming at the pot’s bottom. The last thing to do would be to scrape it up together.
– It’s an awfully big pot. How do you raise and lower it?
– It causes us much trouble. The last time we lowered the pot, it took us 3 adults to do so.
– I guess there were times you would consider making it a bit lighter, right?
– Obviously. However, is that possible?
At Rau who had a doubt on his face, Eiji nodded firmly.
– As long as the procedure requires the same durability of metal, it’s possible to lower the weight by making the pot thinner with iron, rather than bronze.
– Providing that’s true, it will become of great help
– If it’s fine with you, I’ll bring it during my next trip. As one would expect, I couldn’t bring a tool of such size this time.
– I guess you’re right.
– Shall we take the size measurement later? Nevertheless, because the pot is a little big, it will become fairly expensive, still….
– If it makes our job easier, we will probably be able to cover the expenses by producing lots of salt, so I don’t think we have to worry about that.
– Oi, Rau. Don’t decide by yourse—-
– I’m looking forward to working with you. It’s truly demanding here.
Intercepting his senior’s words, Rau nodded gladly.
Since Rau was moving around the workplace? more frequently than Edo, he was probably pleased to hear about the work becoming comfortable.
Edo couldn’t blame him for that.
It can’t be helped. – The Senior breathed out? a sigh as if saying so, nonetheless, he wouldn’t cancel what Rau had said.
Excellent excellent, with this, the shovel and the pot will turn quite profitable. – Eiji thought.
At Eiji, who was chuckling, Rau moved and brought a small dish.
On top of it, there was a small mountain of salt present.
Was it due to the salt being natural? The grains’ size felt irregular with some being a little big.
– And, this is the salt which has been made. Won’t you try a little?
– Then, I won’t be holding back. Hm…. it’s salty… but, somehow it feels like there’s a bit of sweetness inside? Even though this should be the same salt, it’s more delicious than the one I usually use for eating?
– Right? Our salts have 2 ranks: high grade salt and normal salt. If you cook using this one, then everything will turn tasty. Eiji-san’s village is the furthest from here, isn’t it?
– That would be so.
– Perhaps, this salt doesn’t go far away in trade, I think. To begin with, people here rarely bring it outside of the village as they don’t want to let it go due to its deliciousness.
– Then, I’m glad I came here to buy the salt directly.
– True. But, since this one was specially made, the cost will become comparatively high….
So, it this is the price of the salt?
Eiji made a wry smile.
However, the flavor of the cooking will greatly vary depending on the salt quality.
Under present circumstances, there was no established method of selective breeding, which would determine the good taste of a raw material itself. Therefore, this period was quite inferior in terms of taste compared to modern times.
If it was possible to make high grade salt, Eiji wanted to seize it.
It was a pain for Eiji, but a considerable amount of normal salt was required as well.
Should I put this trade at stake for a luxury item?
– It seems to be quite good.
– Will I have you buy it?
– Fernando-san, what do you think?
– I guess if it’s a small amount…
– You’re right, just a little should do. Let it be. Please give me that much.
– Thank you for your continued patronage.
A firm handshake was exchanged.
It was decided that both salts would be stored and delivered inside a small and a big jar to their boat.
This time, it’s the shovel, next time, the pot. – he thought.
In addition to salt and dried fishes, this side had olive oil as well. Just considering the fact that Eiji was able to observe and study in the place for salt manufacture gave him a satisfactory result.
The senior gave the impression of feeling relieved.
At the time Eiji went back to the sandy beach, he noticed Fran, who was no longer swimming, waiting for their return.
She was making a splendid carving from the sand hill.
Fran’s fingers seemed to be extremely skillful.
Next to her, there was a bucket filled with seawater and numerous shells.
Eiji checked its contents.
He had seen Manila clams and Turban shells before, nevertheless, Eiji wasn’t very knowledgeable about shellfish.
– What’s up Fran? This is…?
– I picked it up! It’s a mussel. There are tons of them at the seafloor. Once you lift and turn up the soil like this, you will be able to find them immediately.
– It’s a lovely beach, isn’t it? And this one next to it is?
– This is a razor shell clam! It’s delicious and munchy.
– This would be… an oyster, right? What’s more, there are Manila clams as well.
– I traded? for it with the auntie. Eiji, do you like shellfish?
– Yes, I like them a lot.
– Is that so…? I’m happy. Let’s eat them later!
Once Fran handed the bucket directly, to Eiji, the undulating water overflowed from it.
Eiji felt as though the tiredness caused by the negotiation was washed away from his body thanks to her innocent smile.
I’ll accept these shells gratefully.
A smile appeared naturally on Eiji’s face.
Night. In the middle of the table, a meal consisting of steamed wine, butter sauté, and shellfish was lined up on the table.
Besides that, there were steamed Pacific herrings.
It seemed that neither sashimi nor grilled fishes were basically eaten on this island.
Was it because of the food here being processed from dried goods? The majority of them were made through steaming.
Is it possible that the pickled fishes, made from raw Pacific herrings, were the only exception?
Nevertheless, this village’s specialty wasn’t just cuisine with fresh seafood.
The Senior, Edo, was a bit puffed up with pride.
– How does our olive oil taste?
– It’s the best. This one is a freshly made one, isn’t it? Fernando-san, how about you?
– It feels like drinkable oil.
– Your expression would be a perfect match for inflammatory words.
– The timing of your arrival was perfect. The olives were just harvested after they became mature.
The salad, which was dressed using pickles made from olives, olive oil, salt, a citrus fruit similar to a lemon, and raisins, had a simplistic flavor. Nonetheless, quite delicious food was lined up on the table.
What Eiji knew was that a truly fresh oil won’t cause a sour stomach even if it’s consumed in large quantities.
Because there had been many unusual dishes, Eiji considered this trip as quite attractive.
Somehow, Both Eiji and Fernando had become a bit plump as a result.
– Is olive oil also this village’s specialty?
– That’s right. Our village uses salt, olive oil, and dried fishes for trading purposes.
– Despite not having cultivated lands, your business somehow managed thanks to that, right?
– Yes. A person won’t survive without food. However, it’s bad for that person to live without salt.
– Besides leather, we shall bring foodstuff next time as well. Broad beans, Kale, carrots, and onions, each of them are best.
– All of them will go well with olive oil.
Olive oil and wine are the leading products of all trades.
A long time ago, Greeks would use these two items for their trades, which resulted in them settling great number of cities in Mediterranean Sea.
Because there were other items which they couldn’t produce, it was possible for them to acquire lots of food products, more than any other place.
As a result, artisans and bureaucrats would flourish in number even more than farmers.
Still, Eiji’s eyes were not just focused on those leading products, but also on the gruel, which was placed near the edge of the table.
The white gruel was different in color than the usually eaten barley-made one.
As soon as Eiji tried to savor it, he couldn’t tell its basic components due to the interfering taste mixed with the smell of milk.
Nonetheless, it was certainly not wheat.
What is this?
Could this be…? – Is what he thought.
– Speaking of which, I’m extremely curious, but… what is this gruel?
– Is this the first time for you to see it?
– No, I’ve got lots of memories regarding gruel, but I was wondering whether or not I was mistaken.
– It’s type of vegetable which can only be obtained at the southern part of this island. You eat the vegetable by soaking and slightly cooking it inside the milk. Well, it may not be that tasty, still…
– Can I have you show me the ingredients before cooking?
– I don’t mind that, but… you’re saying some strange things.
What Edo brought was certainly rice.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Japanese-type rice but an Indica one. Still, Eiji couldn’t care less about that.
That’s because the rice, which he desired, despite not being able to obtain it, was now in front of his eyes.
– Can you get ahold of this rice? And no, I don’t want for trading purpose but for personal use.
– Personal use? You’re more and more strange. How much do you need?
– About, that’s right….. about 100 kilos.
– 100 kilos?! I don’t care anymore; I can’t even tell what you’re thinking.
– Now, now. I just want it for personal use.
– Just what lies inside this kind of food?
– A tasty method of food preparation.
– Don’t be stupid. There’s no way for such a thing to be delicious.
Edo probably couldn’t fully understand the true feeling behind Eiji’s words.
Rice was definitely not a popular food among people here. Rather than that, it was disliked to the extent of being made into gruel or treated like salad.
Despite that, it was at least different for Eiji.
Even Indica rice may be good for preparing a delicious Chinese-styled rice or a Pilaf.
I wonder, how about a risotto? As expected, it probably? won’t match with a onigiri.
With rice-related dishes popping up inside his head one after another, Eiji looked forward to his return home.
This must be the best result I’ve obtained during this trip. – He thought deep within heart.
Editor Joke and Reference –
Jelly filled Doughnuts