Petit Bourgeois Volume 5: The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 2)

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The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 1) | Contents | The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 3)

Reichi Middle School was a private school in Chikusa Ward, Nagoya. Looking at the map, there was a Reichi High School right next door, so it could be an integrated school.

On Sunday, we headed for our destination separately. If we’d met up at the station and taken the train together, I would have been able to thoroughly question her on the reason for dragging me out, but she was buying souvenirs and was apparently going there by a different route. I was wondering if I should wear my uniform, but Osanai-san had said nothing about that, so I chose a plain shirt and chino pants. I alighted at the Nagoya station, meandered around the underground section which had a three-dimensional structure I could not quite grasp, and finally got onto the subway.

A comforting autumn breeze was billowing when I went above ground from the station closest to my destination. Opposite the exit stood a bulletin board with a poster for the Reichi Middle School Cultural Festival mixed with notices for citizen forums, flea markets and the like. A large manga character was drawn in the middle of that poster, and every character in “Reichi Middle School” was written in a different color. Overall, it was quite a splendid poster, and even included a fitting slogan, “Take Flight And Go Beyond!”

I could only vaguely recall the directions from the subway station, but there seemed to be a good number of people heading towards the Cultural Festival, so I should reach my destination without getting lost if I just followed the crowd. Eventually, the path entered a residential area, and I started walking along a fence that was in a dull shade of brick red. Some green plants were growing on the inner side of the fence, leaving no gaps for anyone to peek in. That would have to be Reichi Middle School, or if not, a luxurious mansion.

Before long, the school gates came into view. Those severe metal gates were wide open, and a handmade welcome gate was installed within. This was apparently the 17th Cultural Festival, but that would mean this school had a surprisingly shallow history. Looking around, the chalk-white school buildings had an inorganic design that certainly made me associate them with the modern style.

After passing through the gates, the right side led to a sports ground that was one size smaller than the one at Funado High School, which Osanai-san and I attend. In the exact middle of that, some logs were arranged in a double cross pattern about a meter and a half per side, with a fire visibly burning within. It was quite like a campfire, albeit a little too big to be called that, though it wasn’t so intense that sparks were flying in the air. Even so, since the Cultural Festival is not a camp, it would be called Fire of Unity, Bonding Flames, or something along those lines.

On one of the white school buildings hung a banner with the words “Welcome to the Reichi Middle School Cultural Festival!”, as well as other signs that said “Handball Club – Tokai Competition Participant”, “Swimming Club – Nationwide Competition Participant” and “Judo Club – Autumn Tournament Participant”. I had never heard of any clubs that participated in a nationwide competition at my middle school. This particular school was evidently very enthusiastic about sports.

Now, I was to meet with Osanai-san near the school gates at two in the afternoon. That time would arrive in about two minutes, so it wouldn’t be strange for her to have reached already… Since it was a weekend, I could see numerous people who didn’t seem to be students here. There were also many kids who looked too small to be in middle school, and I could hear whoops of joy every now and then.

Osanai-san’s ability to hide her presence was quite something, but my powers of observation were not completely worthless. I’d spotted the tip of a pair of sneakers poking out from the shadow of the welcome gate. From what I could see, they were small in size, and hadn’t moved at all, as if the person wearing them was trying to ambush someone. As I thought about that poor attempt at hide-and-seek which was akin to an expert leaking water1, I slowly approached the gate.

“Thanks for waiting, Osanai-san!”

I sang as I peeped behind the gate.

But before me was a frightened girl whom I didn’t recognize.

“Eh? W-Who are you?”

“Not a suspicious person at all,” I was about to say, but my voice froze up in my throat. The girl tensed up even more, looking like she was about to scream, when at that moment…

“…What are you doing, Kobato-kun?”

From behind me came a voice that was bathed in cold, as if anticipating the season. I whirled around to see Osanai-san, who was clad in a white blouse with a round collar and a dull orange cardigan, tightly gripping onto a small Boston bag. She was standing with her hands on her hips, staring at me with half-open eyes.

“Well, I was…”

I started, but she ignored me and squatted in front of the girl.

“It’s fine. This guy doesn’t understand how others feel, but he’s not a bad person.”

That was quite an introduction, but it was true of Osanai-san as well. Case in point, wasn’t the other girl now confused as to whether she should feel relieved after listening to that? Confirming my suspicions, she walked off without saying a word. While watching her retreating figure, Osanai-san slowly stood up.

“Kobato-kun, I don’t think it’s good to frighten small children.”

“That wasn’t my intention… and by the way, you were watching from the beginning, weren’t you?”

“Watching what?”

She tilted her head and put on a puzzled face.

So Osanai-san really hadn’t seen anything… but that was only a brilliant act of innocence that would have fooled anyone but me.

From there, I followed Osanai-san’s lead.

There was no designated location for visitors to place their shoes, and no slippers were distributed to us, so we were apparently supposed to go into the campus with our bare shoes. A large mat was placed in front of the entrance, with a poster saying, “Please remove the dirt from your footwear.” I dusted my clothes to remove any dirt, but since Osanai-san showed no reaction whatsoever, I obediently scrubbed my shoes on the mat.

A poster filled with plenty of characters and decorative writing was placed in the hallway, serving as an informatory sign telling visitors what could be seen in each direction. The Reichi Middle School students who were wearing indoor shoes and the visitors who were wearing outdoor shoes were generally smiling. A table in the hallway had some pamphlets stacked up on top, so we took one each as we went past.

After closely looking at the map printed on the pamphlet, Osanai-san gracefully moved off without a word. I hadn’t asked where we were going, so I simply followed her from behind. Turning two corners and crossing a connecting passageway, we eventually heard a shrill touting call.

A female student wearing a navy blue sailor uniform that had a hint of green, a white apron and a bandanna was waving her hands, trying to attract customers.

“The Sweets-Making Association is running a cafe, so please come in!”

Certainly a straight name for a club.

Both Osanai-san and I kept a distance from extracurricular activities. We did our own activities after school, but never joined any clubs, so we were not used to such excitement. As expected, this was Osanai-san’s goal. She briskly entered the classroom, so I followed suit, nodding to the touting girl on the way in.


The interior of the classroom was shrouded in sweet fragrance that made me want to take a deep breath. Like the practical training room for home economics class, table mats were spread out on a neat row of preparation counters, and the other desks were divided into clusters. Since it was just the time for snacks, there were many customers, and students wearing bandannas were spiritedly moving around the lively classroom.

One of them broke into a smile as soon as she spotted us.

“Ah! Yuki-chan-senpai, you really came!”

Frizzy hazel-colored hair peeked out from the sides of her white bandanna, and freckles were scattered underneath her big round eyes. The last time we saw her, she was making a face like it was the end of the world, but today was a complete change. She now looked so cheerful that it seemed like she would leap into the air at any given moment. She was Kogi Cosmos, daughter of the renowned patissier, Kogi Haruomi. We got acquainted with her during a little incident a while back, but I didn’t know that Osanai-san continued communicating with her after that.


I muttered without thinking, causing Osanai-san to glance at me.


No, not really…

Kogi-san’s eyes were directed straight at Osanai-san, and they did not waver. Though I was standing right next to Osanai-san, she did not throw a single glance in my direction.

“As mentioned, I’ve brought Kobato-kun here as well.”

“How do you do? Long time no see.”

Kogi-san said, but still didn’t look at me. Without losing my smile, all I replied with was, “I’m absolutely fine!” Naturally, I couldn’t help but feel like obstinately returning the greeting.

“Are you busy?”

“Thanks to you, business is booming. There are a few empty seats though, so please follow me.”

We were led to a table by the window with a good view of the sports ground. Kogi-san, who was also wearing an apron, brought us some water in paper cups. While putting the cups on the table, she continued looking at only Osanai-san and never faced my direction for even one moment, causing me to feel worried that she might spill the water.

“Yuki-chan-senpai, you’ll be having that, right?”

Osanai-san gave an emphatic nod.

“Yup, the New York cheesecake. Two of them, please.”

“Would you like to have some black tea as well?”

“Yup, two cups.”

If she didn’t emphasize the number two, Kogi-san would probably neglect to bring a serving for me. After replying, “Got it!” with a nod, she headed to a corner where other aproned students were gathered. Watching her retreating figure, I asked a question to distract myself from the clamor of the cafe.

“…So we came here to meet Kogi-san, huh.”

Osanai-san wrapped her paper cup with her two hands, depressed it a little, then let it go back to normal before depressing it again, causing ripples to appear on the water surface.

“She invited me saying that she was making cakes for the Cultural Festival. Sorry that I didn’t have the chance to explain earlier.”

“So you invited me because you wanted to talk to Kogi-san with me?”

“It’s about right, but not quite.”

Osanai-san eyed Kogi-san, who was standing and working.

“After that incident with the macaron, I’ve been good friends with Kogi-san. She’s the daughter of a patissier I admire, but regardless of that, she’s a really good kid. Her relationship with her father is complicated, but she wants to be a patissier too. She made me cookies, and they were quite delicious. I told her to keep working hard.”

“Uh huh.”

“Kogi-san also idolizes me for some reason. She even goes as far as calling me her sweets master. She calls me on the phone at night, comes over to hang out on the weekends, and at one point, she even brought me to this special shop. I haven’t told you about Sakura-an2 yet, right?”


“I’ll bring you there some time, then. Anyway, Kogi-san told me that she was going to make New York cheesecake with her clubmates at the Sweet-Making Association. She’s complained to me that even though she knows that the other members of the club aren’t aiming to be pros, she sometimes gets irritated by their difference in mindset. She calls me Yuki-chan-senpai, and recently she comes over by train on weekdays after school juts to see me. That’s why…”

Ah, to be so loved.

Earlier, Osanai-san had made a cruel accusation that I couldn’t understand how others feel, but I’m not averse to making deductions if it provides some intellectual nourishment. In other words, she brought me out on a Sunday because…

“You want to tell her that you have your own world, right?”

She doesn’t dislike Kogi-san, but Kogi-san isn’t her only friend, and she’s even “dating” someone, so she has no intention of being in such a deep relationship with Kogi-san… to make that implication known to Kogi-san, Osanai-san brought me along.

Thus, I could finally accept it. I hadn’t thought for a second that Osanai-san simply wanted to enjoy cakes with me on a Sunday, but I’d wracked my brains wondering about her intentions. That was certainly a facet of our mutually beneficial relationship. Now that she’d inconsiderately gotten a favor out of me, I would ask her to return it eventually.

A beaming Kogi-san returned, with cake and black tea on a plastic tray.

“Thank you for waiting. Here is the New York cheesecake and black tea set!”

Osanai-san’s tea already had milk in it. Kogi-san was probably trying to appeal that she knew Osanai-san’s tastes, but on top of that probably having the opposite effect, it also made her look somewhat pathetic. Her especial disregard for me was an expression of her desire to monopolize Osanai-san.

The cake was cut in a fan shape, and was pure white in color. I usually didn’t really like to eat sweet things, but I was at least familiar with cheesecakes. After staring at the cake in front of me for a while, I posed a question to no one in particular.

“Isn’t this No-bake cheesecake?”


With fork in hand, Osanai-san stared at me like a hawk.

“So it isn’t. What’s the difference?”

“About that…”

She replied, looking at Kogi-san.

“…Perhaps someone from the store can explain it to you.”

Kogi-san became clearly flustered as the conversation was thrust to her. As if only noticing my presence at this point, she gave Osanai-san a look asking for help. However, Osanai-san kept quiet, so she capitulated and spoke in a subdued voice.

“No-bake cheesecake is not heated directly. New York cheesecake is baked in a water bath.”

“Baked in a water bath?”

Once again, Kogi-san glanced at Osanai-san, like she wanted to say, “How should I begin explaining to this person?” With a sigh, Osanai-san put down her fork.

“The cake materials are put into a mold.”

“Uh huh.”

“The mold is then placed in a vat… or a deep stainless steel tray filled with water, and that is heated in an oven. Baking in this way has the characteristic of giving the cake a moist feel.”

I could sort of understand, but there was one point I couldn’t get. What’s the point of baking the cake in this manner?

“You can check the moistness by eating it.”

Kogi-san got rattled upon hearing Osanai-san’s words.

“Ah, umm, we did work hard to make it, but whether it’s moist enough to satisfy Yuki-chan-senpai…”

Picking up the fork again, Osanai-san grinned.

“It’s fine. I’m looking forward to it!”

Hugging the tray, Kogi-san’s face turned red.

“I, I’ll get back to work!”

With that, she ran off. Putting aside the gratitude I had towards her for teaching me a new term, I threw an accusatory look at Osanai-san.

“Poor thing. You didn’t have to pressure her that much.”

“But I am looking forward to it.”

My advice fell on deaf ears.

In any case, there was tea and cake in front of me, and Osanai-san was waiting. Imitating her, I picked up my fork. Thanks for the food.

It was at the first step of sinking the fork into the pure white cake where I felt the difference. It was a lot harder than I imagined… or rather, more springy. It didn’t exactly push back, but had a shockingly satisfying resistance to it. Savoring that feeling, I slowly cut a small triangular prism from the cake, and moved it to my mouth.


Osanai-san and Kogi-san had used the word “moist” to describe the cake, but my linguistic sense would call it “dense”. The cheesecake was only mildly sweet, but it had a surprisingly relaxing texture, and I felt that there was a high density of flavor. It was interesting, and delectable.

Raising my head, I noticed that Osanai-san was enjoying her cake without regard for my impressions on it. Whenever she brought down her fork and moved a piece of cake up, a smile would appear on her face, like she was basking in joy. I felt a little envious that she could enjoy something to such an extent, and sorry for Kogi-san. As the person who made the cake, seeing such a blissful look on Osanai-san’s face should be her heart’s desire, yet she’d left out of some weird sense of modesty.

On the other hand, I also felt a little confused. I was surprised since eating a New York cheesecake was a fresh new experience for me, but that should not apply to Osanai-san.

“Hey, Osanai-san.”

I asked a question to Osanai-san, who was sorrowfully staring at her New York cheesecake which had so quickly dwindled in size.

“I’m amazed, it was so delicious. Even in light of how prepared you were for it, was it up to your expectations?”

Osanai-san tilted her head.

“You mean if it was delicious? Yes, it was.”

“More than anywhere else?”

I wasn’t quite convinced that a cheesecake from a middle school Cultural festival would satisfy Osanai-san. That girl liked both Japanese and Western sweets, would search for shops selling delicious desserts on her own two feet, and was not negligent in doing research. Due to budget constraints, she couldn’t possibly get to know the best tastes in the world, but there was no doubt that her tastes were fairly refined. Given that she knew such high quality sweets, was the cheesecake really that delicious to her?

Osanai-san precisely read the intention behind my question. She put down her fork and somewhat straightened her posture.

“Kobato-kun, that’s not it. Comparing a wonderful patisserie and a sweets-making club as if they’re on the same level is boring. It’s simply comical to think that Godiva3 is better when you’re eating a 100-yen bar of chocolate.”

“Is that so…”

“Yes, it is.”

She put some more enthusiasm into her speech.

“Just as a patisserie should be compared to other patisseries, it’s fine for a homemade sweet to be great relative to other homemade sweets, and for a dagashi4 to be tasty compared to other dagashi. It might seem cool to always look for the best like a seeker of the way5, but in reality you’re nothing but than a snob who always compares to past experiences no matter what you eat.”

“So you’re happy no matter what you eat?”

“Definitely not. I don’t like things that are not delicious, especially if corners are cut. That’s not nice at all… If I had to say something snobbish, this is obviously not the best New York cheesecake I’ve had. But it’s tasty, and no corners have been cut for it, and more importantly, I’m enjoying it right now.”

Filling her mouth with some more cheesecake, she smiled.

“That’s how it is, Kobato-kun.”

The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 1) | Contents | The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 3)

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  1. An idiom referring to an expert making a mistake. As for why water is involved, it probably has something to do with the chōzu water absolution rite at Shinto shrines. It sounds like the word for “expert” and apparently people in the Edo period liked to insert puns in their idioms.
  2. Errata: This is the actual name of Ouan, the dessert shop with kuri kinton mentioned in Summer-Exclusive and Autumn-Exclusive. There was no hiragana written before and I assumed it was Ouan because that is the more common pronunciation. I’ve updated the web pages containing the offending word, but I’ll update the pdfs/epubs when there are more substantial changes (as there tend to be)
  3. A Belgian-based brand of gourmet chocolate.
  4. Cheap Japanese candies and snacks.
  5. Usually used to mean someone seeking spiritual enlightenment, but in this case means someone seeking perfection in a craft.

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