Chapter 7: Chapter 7: New York 92nd Street (2)
He used all his might to chase the pickpocketer down, but there was no way he could catch someone who knew the roads better than he did. In the end, the pickpocketer was nowhere to be seen.
Cho Min Joon looked around his surroundings with a blank face. He experienced something that he had never experienced in Korea in his first hour in New York. When he was warned of pickpocketers, he didn’t think it could ever happen to him.
‘I underestimated New York.’
He was speechless. He didn’t have much cash, but all of his cards were in there. He was now unable to hail a taxi if he wanted.
Cho Min Joon returned to where he got robbed. A man who sat on the ground looked up and asked, “Do you need this?”
Inside his fingers was the 5 dollar bill that Cho Min Joon handed him earlier. Cho Min Joon sighed and responded. It had been a while since he spoke to a foreigner, but the English that came out of his mouth was fluent.
“That’s okay. I don’t want to take back what I gave. Eat a nice meal with that.”
“Do I look like a beggar?”
It didn’t sound like he was asking because he felt insulted, but rather, the man truly looked curious. Cho Min Joon looked at the blonde man who appeared to be in his 40s. A worn out coat and a raspy voice. His clothes were too shabby to call vintage. He was sitting on the ground, and he even had a hat opened up in front of him.
“I have a home, you know.”
“…So you’re not homeless. Can you give me my 5 dollar back?”
“Didn’t you just say you didn’t want to take it back? Since I was treated like a beggar, I can say I deserve this.”
In response to the man’s remark, Cho Min Joon didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t like he could do anything with just 5 dollars anyway.
Cho Min Joon sighed and sat next to the man. The man then asked, “I’m Lucas Dean. What’s your name?”
“Cho Min Joon. My surname is Cho and my name is Min Joon.”
Lucas glanced at Cho Min Joon’s bag and continued, “You must be a tourist. Too bad it’s all ruined.”
“…What can you do? I’ll just have to be a beggar in New York.”
He couldn’t just call home and tell them he got robbed. Lee Hye Sun was worried about just this when he left…
“Am I roaming?”
Cho Min Joon took out his phone. He had applied for it ahead of time, so he had internet access. After reporting his cards as stolen, he contemplated calling the police and Lucas spoke.
“The police don’t care about pickpocketers. It’s too common. Especially if you’re not from here.”
“…What a scary place.”
“Do you have a place to go?”
Cho Min Joon shook his head. In response, Lucas asked with a smile, “Would you like to stay at this beggar’s place?”
Lucas’ house was less than 20 meters away from where they were. As soon as Cho Min Joon walked into the brick house, Cho Min Joon said, “This is a nice house for a beggar’s.”
“Stop calling me a beggar. You’re making me sad.”
“Oh, please. No need to thank me. You’re making me feel bad.”
He thought Lucas was homeless, but his house was better than Cho Min Joon’s. The ceiling was high, and the floors were made of marble. It was around 60 pyeong wide. Including the room on the 2nd floor, it was a very large house.
As soon as Lucas got into the house, a blonde woman looked at Lucas in shock.
“Lucas… is that you?”
Jane’s face was pale from the shock. When she wobbled over, Cho Min Joon was convinced she was going to fall over, and she did. If Lucas hadn’t caught her in time, she would have fallen onto the marble floor.
“Oh, it really is you.”
“…Sorry I’m late.”
Cho Min Joon simply watched as they spoke to each other. Soon after, Jane showed interest to Cho Min Joon. She looked like she had a lot to say, but she couldn’t just say whatever she wanted in front of a strange man.
“Oh, he helped me out. Say hello. This is Min Joon.”
“Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Jane Dean.”
“I’m Cho Min Joon.”
Cho Min Joon shook hands with Jane and then looked over at Lucas. ‘I helped him? What does that mean?’ All he did was give him 5 dollars. However, after seeing his house, he didn’t even need that money.
He was curious, but it wasn’t the right time to ask. Jane’s eyes were wet with tears, and so were those of Lucas. There must have been something going on that he didn’t know about. Did Lucas run away from home? That didn’t make sense considering his age, but his worn-out clothes suggested otherwise.
Lucas spoke, “He lost his wallet because of me. I want to let him stay here for a while. Is that okay, Jane?”
“Of course. I’m just happy you’re home. Jessie will be happy as well.”
Lucas’ face darkened at the sound of Jessie’s name.
“Will Jessie forgive me?”
“…Worry about that later. I have a lot of questions for you. But let me start with this.”
Lucas looked at Jane. Jane smiled and asked, “Have you eaten?”
While Jane prepared food in the kitchen, Lucas showed Cho Min Joon to his room. It was the guest room on the 2nd floor. Cho Min Joon asked, “May I ask what happened?”
“…I ran away. I roamed for a while now and I just got back. Thanks to you.”
“I don’t understand. How did I help you?”
Lucas smiled and showed him the 5 dollar bill. Cho Min Joon laughed.
“But you didn’t even use that.”
“To be honest, getting a donation from someone was like a revelation to me. It made me look back on my past and made me want to start over.”
Cho Min Joon didn’t question further. That 5 dollar bill must have given him more to think about than he could imagine. He was curious about a lot of things, but he didn’t want to ask Lucas about them now. Cho Min Joon decided to lighten things up a little.
“So this is a 5-dollar hotel.”
“You can check out whenever you want.”
It was already past 5 o’clock. Cho Min Joon unpacked his things and went down to the kitchen. It hadn’t been that long, but the meal was almost complete. Mac and cheese, hamburger steak, and salad. Cho Min Joon offered to help and said, “It smells nice. You must be a good cook.”
“My husband enjoys food. I had to practice so that he wouldn’t nag at me.”
Jane laughed while Lucas looked sad beside her.
“I thought good food made both the person eating it and making it happy. I still believe that. But…”
Lucas stopped himself mid-sentence. Cho Min Joon glanced over at Jane.
The savory smell of the mac and cheese stimulated his nostrils. It smelled so good that he looked forward to seeing the score.
“You must be happy. Good food makes people happy three times a day.”
“Twice. I only eat twice a day.”
“Then you should try to make that three.”
But considering the calories in American food, perhaps eating two meals a day was healthier.
The mac and cheese was complete and was placed on the table. Jane put the hamburger steaks on plates and set the table.
“Would you like an egg on your steak?”
“No, thank you.”
“Good. We don’t like it either.”
Jane laughed and sat down. Cho Min Joon looked down on the food with sparkling eyes.
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (average)
Cooking Score: 6/10
[Mac and cheese]
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: Middle High (average)
Cooking Score: 6/10
Just as he expected, both dishes got 6 points. That meant that the food was similar to those being sold at restaurants. From what Cho Min Joon experienced, that was the case. If not, perhaps, the cooking of a popular restaurant in a small neighborhood. It was a score that was rarely seen in average people.
Cho Min Joon put his hands together and prayed. When Lucas saw this, he asked, “Are you Catholic?”
“No, I’m Christian.”
“Too bad. We’re Catholic.”
“Honey, eat up.”
Lucas picked up his fork. Cho Min Joon picked up his fork as well. The first dish Cho Min Joon tried was the hamburger steak. To be honest, he wasn’t too crazy about hamburger steak. Actually, he didn’t like minced meat in general. However, the scent of the hamburger steak was strong.
As soon as Cho Min Joon took a bite of the hamburger steak, the scent of the meat was stronger than any hamburger steak he had. Along with it was the scent of pepper as well as sauce. ‘What kind of sauce is this?’ He focused to find out, but he had no idea. It wasn’t a flavor he knew. Cho Min Joon turned to his recipe window. He wanted to know what the sauce was made of.
[Hamburger Steak Ingredients]
Beef, onions, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, herbs, pepper, brown sauce (A1 Sauce)
‘Oh, this is brown sauce.’
The brown sauce was invented in England. It was a sauce made out of jujube, vinegar, and sugar. When it was sweet, it was called HP sauce, and when it was more sour, it was called A1 sauce. This sauce wasn’t very well-known in Korea.
To be more exact, hamburger steaks weren’t common in Korea either. It had a strong meat scent that wasn’t successful in Korea. However, the score was 6 points. That meant it was well-made. It was possible that he was unfamiliar with it because it was American.
Cho Min Joon tried to approach the dish from an American viewpoint. Grand Chef was also American. If he didn’t understand American cooking, he was going to lose. So Cho Min Joon did his best to understand the hamburger’s taste. He pushed down the resistance against the meaty scent and tried to taste it in its entirety.
At first, it was hard. But after a few bites, he began to understand. At that moment, a notification popped up.
[You’ve tasted the Hamburger Steak.]
[Region bonus! Your ‘Understanding American Cooking’ experience points have gone up!]
[Your understanding of cooking has broadened, elevating your level!]