After hanging up, I’ve started brooding about a lot of things. Since I can’t do anything about them, I’m heading to the kitchen.
I’ve decided to make some pastries for Mizuhara as thanks for today.
I’ve been mulling over what Nonomiya-san said, and I’ve also been worried about Mizuhara, who seems more stressed about going home than I thought.
I’ve decided to go to his place tomorrow morning, but I haven’t decided on what to make.
He hasn’t been eating any world class Valentine pastries or Nonomiya-san’s high quality pastries, so I’m running out of ideas.
As I pile up a bunch of recipe books, I accidentally bump into the pile of culinary books that have evaded my sight.
While I’m picking up the books, one of the titles catches my attention.
「……Bringing Joy to Young Children with Bento Recipes…」
A flash of inspiration. How about a sweets bento?
Even with a bad appetite, it’ll probably look good. On top of that, Mizuhara likes these types of things.
I quickly check my ingredients, scrutinizing the place for snacks that could pass off as side dishes.
I’m writing all the ideas I can think of on my recipe notebook.
I’ve decided in an instant. The main course will be sushi rolls.
On the day of setsubun[1. TL Note: Setsubun, literally seasonal division, marks the last day of winter. Traditionally, the Japanese celebrate by scattering beans around the house to ward off demons and beckon good fortune.], I made a roll cake resembling Mom’s ehomaki[2. TL Note: Ehomaki is a special type of sushi roll eaten during setsubun.], so I still remember the recipe.
I can use black crepe, roll cake, and fruits in place of seaweed, rice, and fillings respectively, making a roll cake that looks just like a sushi roll.
「Cowhide with white bean paste, and maybe pistachios with dumplings.」
I think adding some soy sauce and brown sugar will help fry the dumplings.
After the meat is the salad.
I’m wondering if I can make some salad using white chocolate to coat some dried fruits with specks of whipped chocolate cream.
It resembles salad when I put it in an aluminium cup.
It’s all white, so I scatter some lightly baked matcha cookies to match the color.
Just as I’m getting stuck on what to make next, Mom takes a peek into the kitchen.
I tell her I’m making a sweets bento. She seems excited.
「Oh, there’s the fried candy-coated sweet potatoes you made last time! Make it again!」
I’m asking her for help.
The candy-coated sweet potatoes Mom made tasted sweet and salty even though it was cold. I’m sure Mizuhara will like it.
That’s the sushi rolls as the main course, with three side dishes.
We’re getting really excited while making the sweets. It’s a lot of fun.
It just happens that Mom is on holiday tomorrow, and I’m not taking any classes either. Knowing that, Dad gives us a wry smile, telling us to take it easy.
We’re all done making the food, and now we’re putting it all into a box.
Yup, it really looks like a bento. Satisfied with our work, I stretch out my hand to give my mom a high-five, but she stops.
「Wait a minute. There’s no desserts.」
We’ve decided to make some deserts even though it’s 3 a.m.
I wonder if it’s because we’ve made it this far, or if we’re too excited.
We made some strawberry mousse and put it in the box. Now it’s finally done.
I give her a high-five and go to bed feeling excited. I’m suddenly overcome with sleepiness. It’s already past 5 a.m. so it’s only natural.
I forgot to set the alarm, and fell asleep.
I slept in.
I check the clock drowsily, and jump out of bed.
Mizuhara’s flight is at 1 p.m.. My original plan was to give it to him at his house, but I won’t be able to make it.
I have to head straight to Haneda Airport.
I don’t know if I’m able to meet him, but I grab the bento and dash out of the house anyway.
I hurry onto the train and send him a message.
I thought he would be wondering if I’m going to the airport, but his reply is short and simple as always, indicating our meeting spot.
It’s been half an hour after I left the house. Haneda Airport, Terminal 2, Second Floor Departure Gates.
I’m here at our meeting place. I spot Mizuhara reading a book among the crowd.
He doesn’t seem to notice me, so I approach him while waving my hand and calling to him. He hears me and looks up.
「What’s up, coming all the way to Haneda?」
He’s usually calm, but now he’s looking at me with a surprised expression.
I signal for him to wait, then wipe off the sweat on my head and catch my breath.
Haneda is a lot bigger than I thought. I used up my energy walking briskly around the place.
「Sorry to keep you before you leave. Are you going to make it?」
I don’t really know how to check the flight details at the airport.
「Yeah. I left the house early in case anything happened. I was just about to go to the cafe.」
I don’t want to keep him from going to the cafe, so I’m going straight to the point.
「I wanted to give you this. It’s a bento. It’s thanks for yesterday, and…… well, also to cheer you up.」
He raises his eyebrows.
I know what he wants to say. I stick out my hand to tell him that he doesn’t have to say anything.
From his guarded expression, I can tell he’s wondering if the bento box I brought will explode.
How rude! I’m well aware that I have zero skill in making anything that’s not a pastry. I remain silent and unwrap the box.
「By the way, your eyes look like giant pan…da……」
He stops himself at a weird timing. He’s staring right at the bento box I’m holding.
He seems to have realized that it’s not an ordinary bento.
I know my eyebags are really bad, so I let his comments slide.
「I made this with Mom yesterday. It’s not a real bento, but you can probably tell right away that it’s all snacks. I heard you lost your appetite, so you can probably ea…… Hey!」
He cuts me off and grabs my hands as I’m holding the bento.
He’s probably staring at the bento, but he doesn’t have to drag me into it either.
He scrutinized the contents for a while. I’m glad he seems pleased with it, but he doesn’t seem to like the arrangement. He’s shifting the contents with a thoughtful look.
Since I’m free, I’m scanning the terminal’s listing magazine, which Mizuhara is holding.
I hurried my way here so I didn’t have time to look around, but the sweets at the airport look delicious.
「Mizuhara. This Apple Baumkuchen…」
「The store is nearby. The Baumkuchen is really smooth and tender, and inside it is a fully boiled down apple that tastes slightly sour. It’s only sold in this airport, so there’s no harm in buying one.」
「It’s crazy how you know so much about it, even though I just mentioned the name.」
He’s finally satisfied with the arrangement of the bento a few seconds later. We’re going on a walk for sweets in the airport.
The sweets stores at Haneda are targeted towards foreigners, so they have many unique designs.
Since it’s a rare opportunity, we end up buying a few sweets here and enjoying ourselves at a fancy cafe. It’s almost time for takeoff.
Mizuhara is taking baby steps toward the departure fate.
「Hey, why are you walking so slowly? You’re running out of time, hurry up!」
「It’s your fault for leaving so many openings. Just a little push and a bento comes my way.」
「You idiot! It’s going to be a huge problem if you miss your flight!」
I see him off, urging him to hurry on his way to Hokkaido.