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Cold Metal Goal
Sweat poured down my face as I tossed the noodles over and over and over again. The wok gripped tightly in my hand with my right arm digging deep into the brownish delicacy sizzling before me. At this point I can only see my perfect creation. I can only hear the sounds of particles burning against the hot metal. The cheers and screams of the crowd fall on deaf ears, since my own world has been sucked deep into my work. My perfect, perfect, perfect mix of Western and Eastern flavors into a supremely amazing dish of fried noodles.
But it was more of me trying to block out the painful noise with some intense attempted concentration, rather than any natural talent at blocking such things out.
“TEN MINUTES LEFT! Can you smell it cooking!? Soon we’ll see who the true master of the kitchen is!”
The voice echoed throughout the stadium as the crowd erupted in more cheering. I couldn’t just let it bother me. I had to keep my mind on my work! Grabbing my trusty set of chopsticks, I stripped a lone noodle from my bubbling cauldron of a wok, tossing it quite elegantly into my mouth. The taste. It wasn’t what I was expecting.
It wasn’t perfect.
And I can only stand for perfect in a time like this.
Taking knife in one hand, I grabbed and spread green onions across the chopping board. The taste had felt a bit raw, a bit too thick in the general noodle-ish flavor. What it really needed was some more spicing, definitely a calming and delicious taste like green onions. I probably had put too many peppers already into the concoction, so these onions would definitely take the cake! Or at least I would like to hope so.
I began slicing at the best speed I could, cutting onions thinner and thinner until my mind started mistaking the things for freshly grown grass. Scooping it all up with my knife and hand, I dumped it into the wok, where the sound of sizzling burst and thrashed. It suddenly came to mind that some sesame seeds might just do the trick, as well as maybe some of some special sauce to top this masterpiece. So I took to work, adding a tinge of this and that, a tap of salt too, and a good glop of oyster sauce.
My eyes stared deeply into the strange coalition of various ingredients. When I cooked, I just followed my heart. My tongue I mean. I just put whatever the heck I thought would make the meal taste better to me. And to her. No recipes or secret super mega techniques or anything.
Her. Again I’m getting sidetracked, but I can’t seem to take my mind off her when the subject comes up. Elner used to always be by my side. She’d eat whatever I handed to her with that goofy grin on her face. And we were happy. But I suppose she wasn’t really happy, seeing how miserably she dumped me.
My fingers tightened around the wok handle and I clenched my teeth. I still don’t know why Elner left me. I gave her everything I had! I cooked my best for her, I listened to her requests. I even helped her with homework sometimes. But most of all, I handed her a dinner fit for Gods every time she paid me a visit. Who could ever turn down a good meal, especially in this day and age? She’s probably the only one in this world!
The thought makes me grin.
“TIMES UP! Laaadies and GENTLEMEN!! Now is JUDGING time! And we’ll finally determine who here is the REAL GOD OF COOKING!”
I clenched my teeth again. I totally spaced out again there. If I keep this up, I’m going to end up breaking my teeth from over clenching at a young age, and how the heck can I properly taste food if I do that?!
But now’s not the time for that. I quickly breathe in the scent of roast noodles wafting from my glorious cuisine and swing my spatula arm in an arc-like motion, stacking the whole of it onto the serving plate. Again I feel sweat dripping from my face, hands, arms, everywhere now that I think of it. The intense calls of the crowd invade my ears again as I snap out of my thinking too much state again, and I get that horrible teeth clenching urge again.
Elner probably wasn’t the right girl for me anyways, seeing as how she didn’t seem to give a second thought about leaving me behind. If I win this match, I’m never going to need another girl again! As long as I work further and harder and higher and whatever, I can reach my dreams! A girl would only drag them down! “Haha. Hahaha!”
I find myself laughing and some positive feelings flush throughout my nervous bones. If only I could stop this awful trembling my limbs do when I’m nervous.
The other competing foods seemed to involve all sorts of meals I’d never seen before, even if the theme was “A dinner that tastes of home”. I guess that’s what I get for only remembering the noodles Mom used to make. But when has some stupid bread rolls wrapped around beans ever beat noodles? Nothing can beat noodles! Ever!
Before I know it, I’ve returned to that stupid trembling I can’t seem to stop, and I’m swallowing more than I do when I have a soar throat. The judges devour the dishes one by one as I attempt to pass the time by spacing out. But it’s definitely harder to space out when you’re actually trying to do it. My eyes stay glued on the judging table.
And finally, the Head Judge stood up from the table. His tall scarred body, and squared face decorated with an eye patch across the right eye definitely struck awe into anyone seeing him. A demeanor fitting of a Cooking Lord. His voice bellowed out loud and clear throughout the arena.
“The winner as been decided! Congratulations, Fin Ewon. Your fried noodles were definitely cooked with home in mind! Please step up and accept your invitation to the Platinum Ranking!”
My mind was ablaze and I couldn’t stop grinning. I probably looked pretty manic by this point but it didn’t even matter anymore. Perhaps I was even crying tears of joy, but my mind was already too far gone from my body to even notice.
I started it all out just to win some prize money to help support my Dad and me, maybe getting some left over to treat Elner to something every here and then.
But now I know that I can reach higher than that. I can reach the top, as long as I don’t let the world drag me down.