Chapter 10: Chapter 10: New York 92nd Street (5)
“Jelly?” Jessie asked. In actuality, she didn’t really ask because she didn’t know what jelly was. It was instead because she didn’t expect to hear that. Jessie very well knew that Lucas liked jelly. He even set up his own factory because he liked jelly so much.
However, she never thought to make jelly and gift it to Lucas. She thought that it was akin to gifting pizza to a pizza shop owner. However, after thinking it through, this situation was different. He no longer had his jelly factory, which meant that Lucas didn’t have jelly at his disposal.
‘If I make jelly for Lucas…’ Jessie thought about this and looked at Cho Min Joon. Within her blue eyes reflected Cho Min Joon. She saw Cho Min Joon as a weird person. He was the kind of person who advised her to make jelly for her father when he just met them.
Nonetheless, she liked him. That kind of silliness made him seem trustworthy. Jessie opened her mouth.
“…I don’t know how to make it though.”
“That’s okay. I do.”
The truth was, he didn’t really know enough to sound that confident. But, Cho Min Joon thought that making jelly was more important than that. Just the fact that Jessie was cooking meant the world.
As he thought that way, Cho Min Joon realized something. The same dish could be completely different depending on who made it with what sentiment.
‘What kind of sentiment should I be cooking with?’
That question suddenly came to mind, but this was no time for that. Cho Min Joon then spoke. This kitchen belonged to Jane, but he decided she would understand. Even if she didn’t and cursed at him the next morning, he didn’t really care. In any case, the conflict between a father and daughter had to be resolved. Well, that’s what he thought.
“Can you bring me some fruits? If you don’t, bring juice instead.”
“We have some apples…but they’re not ripe yet…”
“That’s even better. The less ripe fruits are better when you make jelly.”
Jessie nodded and brought the apples. She also brought sugar. They didn’t have any gelatin, but that didn’t matter. Cho Min Joon knew how to replace it.
“Have you ever made it before as a kid?”
“I have. But I ate it more than I made it.”
“That’s okay. If you make something you like, it usually turns out delicious.”
Cho Min Joon flashed her a smile. Jessie then glanced over at Cho Min Joon and asked, “Mister, are you a cook?”
“No, an aspiring cook.”
“You’re good, right?”
“Why? Are you afraid it won’t taste good?”
Jessie didn’t answer. Cho Min Joon simply handed Jessie the apples and a knife. She seemed taken aback, so he said, “Cut the apple into quarters and take out the wick. Then, cut them into halves, but don’t peel them.”
“There’s pectin in the peel. That’s what will replace the gelatin.”
Underneath the peel was the most important ingredient for jelly called ‘pectin’. He had once read in a cooking blog that that ingredient was responsible for the jelly-like texture. Since they didn’t have gelatin, this pectin was the most important part.
“Can you do it?”
Jessie confidently picked up the knife, but her skills were shabby. Her efforts to hold the apple with one hand and slice with the other resulted in the knife getting stuck in the apple. But Jessie didn’t really think to push the knife down with the other hand. Cho Min Joon opened his mouth.
“Push down the knife with your hands. Yeah, like that.”
Even after Jessie finished slicing the apples, Cho Min Joon didn’t budge. If Cho Min Joon made this, there would be no meaning to it. She was making it for her father.
“Now put it on the stove and pour water so that only the top of the apples poke out. Then, put the heat on low.”
“Are you really making me do everything?”
“Well, do you want me to do it?”
“…Okay. I”ll do it.”
Jessie poured water onto the apples. This part was where many beginners made mistakes. The same went for Cho Min Joon. He thought that he could pour a lot of water and then boil it down later. But then he realized, if too much water was added, the fruits would be destroyed.
Hence, the success depended on how well the water was controlled. Cho Min Joon watched the pot that was starting to boil.
“Wait for a bit, and then, once the fruit is soft enough, mash it up. Right now, you need to prepare for the next step. Can you bring me a filter?”
Jessie gave up and cooperated with him. She put the filter down on the table as she and Cho Min Joon quietly looked at the boiling pot. Cho Min Joon spoke first.
“Are you in high school?”
“Nope, next year. What about you, Mister?”
“My name is Min Joon. I’m in college. Come to think of it, we’ve never even introduced each other.”
“…I’m Jessie Dean. What country are you from? Japan?”
“Where do you think?”
“Hm, maybe China or Korea. But Japanese people don’t have calm hair like you do.”
Cho Min Joon understood and nodded. Cho Min Joon answered, “I’m Korean. I came here on vacation.”
“Why do people like New York so much? There isn’t much to see here.”
“When you’re close to it, you don’t see the value.”
He wasn’t just talking about New York. Jessie understood what Cho Min Joon meant. She spoke with a calmer voice, “This doesn’t mean I forgive my dad.”
“You don’t have to. But, you can understand him, right? His lifelong dream came crashing down all at once. Not all fathers can be superheroes in that situation.”
In response, Jessie hung her head and closed her mouth. She stayed quiet for a little while before speaking once more.
“But all daughters want their father to be a superhero.”
She was right. Cho Min Joon picked up a spoon next to him and put it in front of Jessie’s eyes. He then smiled and said, “But there are times when superheroes want some air. You should understand if you watched Spiderman.”
Jessie smirked and looked down at the ground. Cho Min Joon continued.
“Let’s stop arguing about superheroes and stir the pot already. The apple’s probably soft now. Mash up the fruits.”
She sounded more friendly than before. Jessie opened the lid and stirred the contents. Along with the sounds of gurgling, a sweet smell gradually wafted, the scent of the apples smelled refreshing.
Once all of the fruits were mashed, Cho Min Joon covered a bowl with the filter. He then said, “Pour the contents of the pot slowly into this bowl.”
Jessie tipped the pot, letting the fruit juice slowly pour over. The filter began filtering the juice. At that moment, Jessie tried to squeeze the filter when Cho Min Joon urgently exclaimed.
“P-pardon? Why not?”
“If you do that, the hard materials will get into it, making it murky. Just let it flow through.”
“…hm. That’ll take too long.”
“Jelly takes patience.”
Jessie sighed and let the juice pour through the filter. After that was easy. She mixed in some sugar and let it boil in water. All she had to do was boil it until the jelly got slippery.
After that, she just had to let it cool. Once she was finished, it was past 1 in the morning. Jessie stretched while yawning. Cho Min Joon smirked and said, “How does it feel cooking for someone else?”
“I’m not sure. I feel like I accomplished something… and it relieved my stress.”
“Congratulations on your first time.”
First time for what? Understanding her father? Or cooking?
She was curious, but she couldn’t ask. If she asked, she felt like she was going to be treated like a little kid. And she didn’t want that.
The next morning, the sun shined in through the window. Lucas opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was his wife’s neck. And then, her golden hair. His heart felt warm at the familiar yet unfamiliar sight. But once he remembered Jessie’s angry face, Lucas’ smile faded.
He sighed. He didn’t know how to make his daughter feel better. Lucas got out of bed with no energy.
He went to get some water, but he saw something weird in the fridge. Beside the water jar was a big bowl. And within it was jelly. Homemade jelly.
Lucas reached for it. He then put the jelly on the table. ‘Who made this?’ He didn’t even have to think about it. His wife was with him all night long. A that moment, he heard a grumpy voice.
“It’s apple jelly.”
Jessie looked at Lucas with swollen eyes. Did his daughter really make him jelly? Lucas felt confused, and Jessie continued.
“Try it. I made it last night.”
Lucas took a scoop of the jelly. It was very fine. However, it was good jelly for being homemade. And it wasn’t just good quality. Once he put it in his mouth, the taste was good too.
When Jessie turned around, Lucas hugged her from behind. Jessie didn’t resist. Lucas teared up and opened his mouth, but no words would come out. He just felt touched. Jessie also teared up but pretended to be okay.
Cho Min Joon saw this and turned away. He wanted them to have their alone time. However, he then ran into Jane’s teary eyes. Cho Min Joon awkwardly said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to use your kitchen without asking.”
“…that’s okay. You helped my child make the most delicious cooking in my kitchen.”
In response, Cho Min Joon smiled and looked back at the kitchen. Within his eyes was a cooking score. However, Cho Min Joon didn’t look at it. He didn’t have to. That jelly wasn’t something that could be scored.
Cho Min Joon just calmly answered, “That’s the best cooking I’ve ever witnessed in my life.”