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“It’s yummy, but…”
Hercule was eating curry, again. He was addicted to curry lately.
Hercule usually ate curry with naan. Not because he liked naan, there was simply no rice available.
He would eat curry with rice if he could. He wanted to try eating rice. So he ordered merchants to find one more thing for him, other than Kunala and sugarcane.
What Hercule was currently eating were—saffron rice and curry made by Kunala.
While moving his spoon and savoring the taste, he exclaimed in dissatisfaction.
“Yummy. Yummy, but this isn’t it… The rice I wanted to try… isn’t like this at all…”
Then what the h.e.l.l is it? Kunala and the head chef exchanged glances, but Hercule acting weird was nothing unusual.
The prudent see danger and take refuge.
This sense of discomfort Hercule was having… This rice, it was a different kind.
The type of rice typically eaten in j.a.pan is called j.a.ponica rice. j.a.ponica grains are roundish and very sticky. On the other hand, the rice Hercule was eating is called Indica rice, the grains are long and thin, not very sticky and has a dry feel to it.
Indica rice accounts for 80% of global production, it was much more popular than j.a.ponica rice internationally.
In 1993 an extraordinarily cold summer in j.a.pan brought about low rice yields, leading j.a.pan to import a large amount of rice as an emergency measure. But Indica rice wasn’t suitable for j.a.panese cooking, so much of that rice wasn’t comsumed at all.
Indica rice is suited for dishes like curry, pilaf, paella… So it might actually be a better fit for the Lemurian Empire’s food culture than j.a.ponica rice—Hercule didn’t find anything wrong with that in itself.
Hercule and the man from the past life were two separate people, but still, Hercule inherited his memories. They influenced him to a certain extent. Some of the man’s preferences were imprinted in Hercule.
“…Oh well, Indica is better for promoting in our Empire. Getting j.a.ponica rice is probably impossible…”
Hercule had a rough understanding of the palate of Lemurians. If made into rice gruel, even j.a.ponica rice would be in high demand.
“You two, find out how best to cook these grains for the time being.”
If they didn’t know how to prepare rice in a way that suited the Lemurian palate, n.o.body would buy rice even if Hercule had it cultivated. There would be no point then.
“Um… Excuse me, Your Majesty.”
“Hm? What is it, Carolina?”
“These grains… They are indeed tasty, but why does Your Majesty want to grow them?” asked Carolina, who was invited to try curry rice with Hercule. Her question was reasonable.
“Well, the reasons are kind of complicated.”
For the record, Hercule wasn’t some kind of idiot who would set up a national project for the sake of nostalgia.
That was for certain.
“It feels as if somebody is badmouthing me… Whatever. Carolina, do you know what crop yield is?”
“I have never heard of it… But I guess it means how much a crop can produce?”
“Yes, basically that. You see, rice has better yield than wheat.”
Wheat was the staple food of the Lemurian Empire. Growing wheat didn’t require a lot of water so it could be planted even on barren soil. On the other hand, wheat had rather low yield that was also influenced by other factors, namely soil fertility, labour and climate.
According to doc.u.ments found in the Lemurian archives, Wheat yield could be as high as 1:30 and as low as 1:3, with an average of about 1:8. Meaning that if planted on fertile soil, in favourable climate and farmed intensively, wheat could yield 30 times the planted seeds. But if planted on bad soil, in unfavourable climate and lacked human attention, the yield was a mere three times.
Data also showed that there were places where wheat yield fell below 1:1. Generally wheat wasn’t cultivated in regions where its output couldn’t reach at least 1:3, though.
On the other hand, in Heian-era j.a.pan, rice had a yield of 1:15 even on degraded lands; and on fertile soil, it was as high as 1:20. Compared to that, the peak yield of 1:30 of Lemurian wheat was actually quite impressive.
“Rice plants are much less p.r.o.ne to damage from repeated cultivation, too. With wheat, you have to let the soil rest after each harvest.”
“Hehh…” (not really getting it)
Carolina had a blank look on her face. Upon seeing that, Hercule smiled wryly.
It’s actually wrong to say rice plants aren’t damaged from repeated cultivation. To be accurate, such damage is unlikely to occur in a water-filled paddy field.
So why isn’t rice grown all around the world if it’s such a vastly superior grain crop? The rice grain is dry, so it has very low cold tolerance. Rice is difficult to grow rice in places where rainfall, water sources and temperature aren’t stable.
Hercule was still in the process of finding suitable regions to grow rice… He had to do a trial run first to know whether rice could be planted in the Empire or not.
“That said, the main reason is to reduce risks.”
“If some wheat disease breaks out, rice won’t be affected so we will be safe from famine.”
That was Hercule’s foremost reason for introducing rice. Crop diversification reduces risks, so to speak. Of course, rice and wheat weren’t enough to be completely fail-safe. If Hercule managed to find soybean, maize and potato plants, he would introduce them to the Empire right away.
But for the time being, he had to make do with rice and wheat.
“You look like you aren’t very interested.”
“Don’t be. It must be boring hearing about this stuff.”
Hercule searched for a more interesting topic, and hit upon something. How should he start with this…
Looking at Hercule who was deep in thought, Carolina giggled.
“What are you laughing about?”
“I’m just glad that Your Majesty is taking government affairs so seriously.”
“Well, food matters directly concern me, after all.”
At the end of the day, Hercule wouldn’t go out of his way to do something troublesome if it brought him no personal benefit. He imported a variety of crops for his own enjoyment first and foremost.
It was all to improve his menu.
“…Um, Your Majesty, may I ask a question?”
“What is it?”
“What do you intend to do about His Highness Hadria.n.u.s?”
Carolina asked Hercule in a low voice. His Highness Hadria.n.u.s… meaning the Hadria.n.u.s that was Hercule’s brother.
“I intend to do nothing. He isn’t making any mischef, so I won’t do anything to him either.”
“…But he hasn’t come to greet Your Majesty even once since Your Majesty’s coronation… That’s pretty insolent isn’t it? Besides, I heard that the n.o.bles have gotten discontent over the tax increase. At this rate, won’t he…”
Hercule raised his voice to stop Carolina. She shut her mouth in panic.
“…Forgive me, I overstepped my bounds.”
Looking at Carolina who was crestfallen, Hercule gently said.
“Don’t worry, I have properly considered that matter. I’m not such a thoughtless fool, am I?”
“Right? Have faith in me. Everything is in the palm of my hand.”
Hercule cracked a laugh, then he squinted his eyes and spoke in a whisper.
“I will have to screen the candidates soon.”
That instant, a chill ran along Carolina’s back—the expression on Hercule’s face was so brutal that it made her tremble in fear.
But at the same time, her heart throbbed with an inexplicable feeling of safety.
(Aah… so this is why I like this person.)
It wasn’t just Carolina—Garphis, Christos, Lucanos and Darios were the same. They could not defy Hercule. Not a chance in h.e.l.l. But they also felt rea.s.sured.
Everyone who knew of this cruel Emperor, who was br.i.m.m.i.n.g with excellence and more cunning than anyone, was uttterly terrified of him. But because he was like that, they all adored him and felt safe under him.
They were relieved that he was their ally, their lord.
“Your Imperial Majesty, I have brought your dessert.”
“Ooh!! This is… melon, eh?”
The melon was cut into big pieces. It was one of Hercule’s favourite foods.
“Fufu, I’m diggin’ in!!”
Hercule brought a piece of melon into his mouth…
He spitted it out. He rinsed his mouth with his drink and shoved a finger into his throat, making sure everything in his stomach was vomitted out.
“Y-Your Majesty? What on earth…”
Carolina asked, she was totally lost at Hercule’s strange behaviour.
“Have you eaten the melon?”
“Ah-um… not yet…”
“That’s a relief then. But I gotta make sure. Sorry about this, you can scold me as much as you want later.”
Hercule thrusted a finger into Carolina’s throat, only stopping after she had thrown up everything in her stomach.
“J-Just what—uee… is Your Majesty doing?”
The discomfort from the emesis, the shame from throwing up in front of her sweetheart, and the anger from suddenly being made to vomit everything out. Various things were becoming mussy inside Carolina.
Hercule’s reply to Carolina’s protest was brief.