Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!
Master Banzen had been wrestling with a design problem late into the night. Upon his whiteboard were three possible approaches, each with their own promises and pitfalls: Banzen had been trying desperately to decide which would be best. Finally, eyes red and ink-stained hands trembling, he left his office and began to pace through the Temple hallways to clear his mind.
Eventually he came to the kitchens, which rang with shouting and the clanging of pots; for the cooks were awake, having risen early to prepare the morning meal as was their custom.
Banzen wandered among them, observing the bustle of activity. Onions were being peeled, carrots chopped, chickens plucked. Rice was steaming, soup was boiling, pork was sizzling, eggs were frying.
One cook he noticed had a fairly simple task. She would mix up a pot of thin dark liquid, carry it to a quiet corner, and leave it there unattended. After a while she would return to empty out the contents, which had somehow turned solid. She did this several times.
“What is that?” Banzen asked her.
“Duck’s blood,” came the answer. “I am congealing it for the blood tofu.”
Banzen bowed and went out.
Later that morning, a novice found Banzen again in his office. The master was sitting motionless, gazing at his whiteboard, eyes distant, hands empty.
“What are you doing?” asked the novice.
“Congealing,” said Banzen.
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