You rub your eyes and see…a full moon?
You feel a slight chill.
Are you outside?
“Ah, you’re awake!”
You notice a tiny girl with green hair in a green dress floating in front of you.
A fairy?! Talking to you?!?
“You can see me? Sorry for scaring you,” she says.
Maybe you’re still too tired? You could have sworn that you went to bed right after supper…
“Is this a dream?”
“No, it isn’t! Our goddess invited you to this world.”
Invited? This feels more like a kidnapping!
“C-could you take me back home?” you ask.
“My deepest apologies. World-crossing is a one-way trip. You can never go back to your world…ever.”
Your head feels like it’s spinning.
You get up…from a fluffy, lavish-looking bed.
Sitting next to you are a middle-aged man and woman in clothes that remind you of European nobles. The fairy is floating next to them.
The woman suddenly hugs you!
“Thank goodness! I was afraid you wouldn’t wake up!”
Seriously, what is this?!
“Take it easy, Tasia,” says the man.
“Oh, right. Sorry about that.”
She lets go of you.
The man smiles at you and says, “I’m Gilford Hyde Claude and this is my wife, Anastasia.”
You might as well introduce yourself.
“My name is Risa Kurokawa. Please excuse me.”
“You should thank the spirit,” says Gil. “She was taking care of you all this time. The knights reported a lightning strike where you were and I was sent to investigate. That’s how I found you.”
“If you don’t have a home, you’re free to stay here. You should have something to eat too if you feel better.”
“Your clothes are being washed right now,” says Tasia. “I’ll get some clean clothes for you and you can come to the dining room after you’ve changed.”
You’ve walked around the house a bit. It all looks so splendid, like the mansion of an English noble!
At the dining room, Gil and Tasia greet you.
“That dress looks lovely on you!” says Tasia.
Is that rice porridge with milk? Not what you’d expect for a house like this…
You sit at the dining table.
“Please help yourself,” says Gil.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
It’s…terrible! Is this what nobles eat?
I Opened a Café in Another World. (異世界でカフェを開店しました。, Isekai de Café o Kaiten Shimashita.) is a light novel series and manga written by Ringo Amasawa (甘沢 林檎, Amasawa Ringo).
Although the world under her protection is peaceful and flourishing, a certain goddess still longs for Earth’s modern-day cuisines, having visited our planet briefly in the past. She already tried to inspire the food culture development on her own world with little success. To solve this problem, she summons a resident of Earth, Risa Kurokawa, to her world. Although not a professional chef, Risa has unmatched passion and perseverance for cooking that would serve her well. The goddess then sends a nature spirit to watch over Risa.
Soon afterwards, Risa awakens and meets the nature spirit, who tells her that she is no longer on Earth and that she can never go back. After fainting from shock, she awakens to find herself at the mansion of the Claude noble family. There, Risa learns that she is now in the Kingdom of Feriformia, a land of plenty with technology powered by magic. While enjoying the Claude family’s hospitality, she notices that their food is surprisingly crude, such as tough bread, over-grilled fish drenched in oil and no sugar or yeast. A cooking hobbyist, Risa cooks a dinner for the Claudes and they enjoy it as though they’ve never eaten food before.
While wandering the city, Risa comes across a recently-vacated bar and gets the idea to start a café. With no children of their own, the Claudes formally adopt her as their daughter in order for her to be recognized as a legal resident of Feriformia. With the help of the Claude family’s connections, Risa is able to quickly purchase the bar and renovate it. Café Omusubi, named after the Japanese rice ball snack, is soon open for business.
Word of the café’s innovative, delicious food gradually spreads throughout the country. Risa’s reputation soon grows to the point where she is given the job to oversee the preparation of a banquet for the International Royal Conference, a summit meeting of monarchs and heads of state from many countries. After the banquet’s success, Risa receives an invitation several days later from the renowned Feriformia National General Magic Academy to help start up a new Cooking Department as an advisor and a teacher. She is even being considered as a potential future wife for the Crown Prince of Feriformia…
Risa Kurokawa-Claude, a.k.a. Risa Kurokawa (黒川 理沙, Kurokawa Risa), the 22 year-old manager of the Café Omusubi, adopted daughter of the Claude noble family and a former office worker. Dedicated, kind and strong-willed, she has a lifelong interest in cuisine culture. The youngest of four siblings, Risa learned everything about food preparation, such as making her own soy sauce, choosing seeds and raising chickens. Since opening her café, she has gradually revolutionized the food culture of Feriformia, setting a new professional standard for food preparation and gaining the interest of chefs from neighboring countries. Encouraged by her astounding success, Risa now has a dream to bring delicious, quality food to her new world.
Basil, a female nature spirit. Originally nameless, the friendly little spirit was named by Risa for her green hair and clothes. Spirits are usually visible only to powerful magicians such as Gilford, so her existence is known to very few people in the story. Being a nature spirit, Basil is familiar with all types of plants including edibles such as vegetables and wheat. She can also control plants and the wind to some extent.
Sieg Brown, an 18-year old staff member at the Café Omusubi and a former knight. Composed, meticulous and stoic, he was highly respected by his workmates and considered a possible future commander of the Feriformia knights. Until he accidentally met Risa and ate her homemade cookies, Sieg considered food to merely be a necessary source of nutrition. Discovering a newfound passion for food, he quit his job as a knight and applied for a job at the Café Omusubi. The same meticulousness that made Sieg an excellent soldier serves him well when he serves and prepares food. His handsome appearance also attracts many female customers. Although he respects Risa for her cooking skills, one couldn’t help but notice the concern on his face when he sees her with other men!
Helena Chester, 16-year old staff member at the Café Omusubi. Cheerful and somewhat naïve, she is the proud daughter of the Chesters, a family of bakers that have served the Feriformia royal family for generations. After the Chester bakery started to lose customers to Café Omusubi, Helena tried to vandalize the café but was caught. Instead of being punished, she was given a job at the café. Risa also reached an agreement with the Chesters to train them in her baking techniques to improve their bread and help provide it for her café.
Marquis Gilford Hyde Claude and Marchioness Anastasia Ashley-Claude, a pair of married nobles and Risa’s adopted parents. Dutiful and kind, these two love to dote on their new daughter and show her off to their friends, including the Feriformia royal family. Gilford is the head of Feriformia’s Ministry of Magic and his wife is the owner of the popular fashion brand, Cyril Mary. Anastasia is also the younger sister of the head of the Ashley Company, the largest trading company in Feriformia.
The story is rather tame compared to many other isekai stories, being more focused on a kitchen and restaurant environment. Here, the main character brought new horizons to the food culture of a fantasy world with her modern-day cooking techniques. Not only do average citizens learn to appreciate good taste, but heads of state have a successful summit after enjoying Lisa’s cooking! People who thought there was nothing worthwhile to know about food, such as Sieg, take an interest in Risa’s unique food and techniques. This new, unknown horizon awakens their curiosity and allows them to relate better to others through a common interest. The stubborn chefs of Feriformia’s palace kitchen also learn that there’s room for improvement in their cooking!
Pleasant feelings through taste affects our lifestyle more than we think. When we enjoy food, we tend to cheer up and feel a little better about life. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why there are fat people in the world (note: be sure to eat and drink in moderation!). Food also brings people together because it’s something that everyone needs. Because of this, banquets and family meals are excellent opportunities for friends and family to be together.
More importantly, one must understand that there’s always something new to learn and appreciate. It’s easy to think that you know everything there is to know about a particular field of knowledge and dismiss new ideas for fear of appearing incompetent. Learning in itself is a quality that allows us to appreciate life in general and become better people in both skill and personality. The experience isn’t always pleasant, but it’s still experience that allows us to know better! In this story, by introducing new horizons for food culture, Risa opens new possibilities for her new world that others are encouraged to explore. It’s amazing how delicious food can make your life feel worthwhile!
There are always new horizons and possibilities out there. Try them out!