With a lot of people at the party, to make a feast that could feed all them Li Du would have to make a big vegetable pot. He had helped part-time in the school cafeteria during university, and was experienced in this field.
He was able to grasp the taste-buds of Americans; Chinese dishes had to be sour, sweet, spicy, and have a unique flavor. He first added a generous serving of sugar and vinegar mixture.
The important points for this dish were that the meat had to be well-marinated, and the sauce had to be seasoned properly. There was not enough time to marinate the meat, so all his efforts had to be poured into the sauce.
He cut up the meat into strips and battered them with flour, and then dipped them into the oil to fry. After it had turned crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, he started to prepare the sauce.
Chinese restaurants in America usually cut corners with this dish, using ketchup to prepare their sauce. Instead, Li Du properly used large, red tomatoes for the sauce, and added in honey, caramel and sugar-vinegar mixture. The final product was a clear, sweet and sour, delectable sauce.
He then began making Mapo Tofu. He made some adjustments to the dish, making it into a soupier version, so that everyone would be able to scoop the tofu up with their spoons. This fit better with the habits of Americans, as it would be difficult to use their forks with the tofu.
He sautéed the garlic and ginger together with the meat, added bean paste and chilli meat sauce for more seasoning, then added the cut tofu, and finally topped it off with the broth. With a last vigorous effort, he completed the large pot of Mapo Tofu.
Ah Meow sat in a chair and meowed; it even clapped its little paws together every now and then like a bright child.
Li Du would not treat his own child shabbily. He took out a slice of fish and fried it. Ah Meow's eyes brightened, its pupils bright like a pair of pure emeralds.
Dreadlocks guy was leaning at the doorway and watching him cook; he gave a sigh of relief. "Ten minutes and only two dishes—I'm going to win."
Hearing his words, Li Du laughed. His actions accelerated, cutting the vegetables at the speed of a sewing machine stitching. Tick tick tack tack sounded across the kitchen—the clear, crisp sounds of his cutting, and another plate of fish was sliced and done in a few seconds.
While he was cooking, he used the bug's ability to decelerate time. This would kill two birds with one stone; as a form of training and also to speed up his cooking.
The group of people watching at the door only saw the knife flashing and dancing, and the empty plate Li Du was working on would instantly become packed full of food. Stephen said in awe, "He really knows magic!"
"Look at that fat cat, when did it get a piece of fish?"
Ah Meow was happily feasting on the large piece of fish, its eyes shut in content.
Someone patted Dreadlock Guy's shoulder and said, "Clyne, you're screwed!"
Half an hour went by, and Hans setup the tables and benches in the backyard while Li Du started serving the dishes onto the tables.
Clyne and the others initially thought that he would just make a few simple dishes. They never expected Li Du to make so many extravagant plates.
A teenager beside Stephen exclaimed, "Hey man, that is your rival? That guy's too scary, is he a chef?"
"Flagstaff's treasure hunter, the China Li—you don't know him? He's been gaining a lot of traction recently. He's not a chef; he's an amazing treasure hunter."
Clyne said unhappily, "Sh*t. Why didn't you warn us about him?"
"I told you he always wins his bets," Stephen said helplessly.
When Hans saw that Li Du had brought out that many dishes, he became extremely proud of him. He put his arm around Li Du's shoulder and said, "Come, come, come—everyone, try my brother's food—don't be reserved. My brother has a pair of hands blessed by God, and not just in treasure hunting but in cooking too!"
"You're not the one that made these, so what are you so excited about?" Hans's uncle, Reeves, asked.
Hans chuckled, "Li and I are blood brothers. I'm excited and proud of him."
A lady said, "Don't just think about food—let's take out the presents and wish Hannah a happy birthday!"
When it was time to showcase their presents, Hans pulled his sister to the side and then passed her a gift box. "Hannah, happy birthday. See what your brother has bought you. I know you will be ecstatic."
Hannah took the gift box and put it away. "I'll leave the best for last and open it tonight."
Americans would open their presents immediately in front of the person who gave it to them as a sign of respect. But for friends and family that they were close to they may decide to open them later. Hannah could do this with Hans, but for other people, she would have to open the gifts on the spot.
The rest of the gift-giving was the same as in China. Americans didn't leave price tags on their gifts—Li Du asked the car dealer to prepare the Z4 as a present, and Carl specifically covered the car's price with a piece of paper.
Reeves then took his present out. It was a pretty pair of sunglasses. Hannah took them out and gave her uncle a hug. "Thank you, my dear uncle. I have always wanted a new pair of shades. Now that spring has come, the sun is really too bright."
In Hollywood movies, many Americans on screen loved to wear sunglasses—even indoors. This was not because they were trying to be cool, but because of the lighter color tone of their irises. They were sensitive to sunlight.
Everyone started sending their presents to Hannah. Nothing was extremely expensive. The things that Hannah's friends got for her were mostly gift cards—things like Starbucks, books, and concert tickets.
Li Du made a call, and then a tow truck rolled down the road and slowly pulled up on the street near the apartment. It dropped off a car that was covered with a canvas.
The people in the garden were focused on the present-opening session and didn't notice the car.
Stephen gave his gift. When the box was opened, there was a crystal necklace inside.
The crystals were transparent. These must have been artificial crystals, for natural crystals of such purity would cost millions.
Hannah gave a delighted scream after receiving the necklace. "This is so cool, Stephen—really beautiful. A pity there's no sun now. It would definitely be prettier under the sunlight."
She looked at Stephen emotionally and said to him sweetly, "Thank you, Stephen, I will treasure this."
Stephen was not good with praise, and just smiled wordlessly.
Hans curled his lips and said softly, "I really don't know what Hannah sees in him. Look at how bad he is at talking—all he can do is eat. He can't even make Hannah laugh. The thought of this guy marry my sister is really worrying."
Li Du said, "If his mouth was as sharp as ours, then wouldn't you be even more worried? Because then you would suspect that he used some fancy words to fool Hannah."
Hans thought again and said, "True, but I really don't understand what's so good about this foolish Stephen. Why would Hannah like such a thick-headed man?"
"I know some big-shots who aren't thick-headed. How about I introduce them to Hannah?" Li Du asked.
Hans hastily stopped him, "Introduce them to Satan instead. I'd rather Hannah go with Stephen. Although this guy is thick-headed, at least he's honest and kind—Hannah would be happier if she married him."
Li Du just stared at him.