For the 3rd time in 2 days I have been reminded of my Christmas dinner of 2004. This is a story about how naive I can be about things. Even about things that include food. Ready for this?
Christmas day dinner is always at my house. Christmas Eve is at my mom and dad's. Thanksgiving was always at my sister's until she moved to South Carolina, sniff. And Easter is at my brother's. Ok, now for Christmas dinner we usually have the same thing(s.) When you arrive, there is an assortment of cookies, normally one dip of some kind, bacon crisps (take a saltine cracker, place a t. of parmesan cheese on the cracker, wrap it in a half slice of bacon and bake in the oven 250 degrees for 2 hours or 350 for 40 minutes, easy peasy and good as all get out!) and homemade eggnog. For dinner I make sauce and usually ravioli. I also make a ham, typically. And we always have bacon-wrapped asparagus, shrimp stuffed twice baked potatoes and a salad. Now keep in mind there's usually 16 people or more eating dinner. Sounds like a lot but I like for people to take things home.
The Christmas of 2004 I decided I wanted to change things up a bit. Instead of a ham I wanted some kind of beef. I read this recipe and thought Geez Louise does that sound good. It was a lobster-stuffed beef tenderloin with Bearnaise sauce. I decided to omit the Bearnaise sauce. That's just extra money I didn't need to spend on Vermouth and whatnot. (Really chuckling here cause I know the rest of the story!) I contacted Brittner's Smokehouse where I buy my ham and asked if they could order me a tenderloin. Based on the recipe and the amount of servings it was suggesting, I figured I needed a tenderloin at least 8 pounds. They explained that they couldn't guarantee 8 pounds. It might end up being around 9. What's the difference I thought. I asked them to butterfly it for me. No problem they said. Sounding very cheerful on the other end. How nice, I thought.
Then I went shopping for the rest of the ingredients. It called for shallots, pancetta, garlic and lobster meat. I found flash-frozen tail meat in the seafood department of the Giant Eagle where I shop. Even buying 2 packages was cheaper than buying whole lobsters and a heck of a lot easier. Again, I thought I was being frugal. Little did I know. I sent Kenny to pick up the tenderloin on December 23. Good thing he was carrying extra cash. See I never thought to get a price. I just ordered it. The ham is usually around 50 bucks so I figured it would be about the same. Now let me explain something to you right now that you probably already know. I had NO idea that beef tenderloin=filet mignon. I told Kenny he needed to pick up "the beef" and off he went. When he arrived he told them our last name and they said they would be back with our filet mignon. His head started spinning cause he knew the weight I ordered.
He came home carrying this GARGANTUAN piece of meat and told me that I was never allowed to order beef again, but laughing at the same time. It had to be at least 2 feet wide and I said what is that? He said the filet mignon you ordered! I said no I didn't. I ordered a beef tenderloin. He said it's the same thing! Oh no, no, no, no, no, I said. What am I going to do?? My father takes one look at that and he's going to kill me. No one buys a 9 pound filet mignon!! I was in full panic mode. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh no, no, no. I could hear him already. Why would you spend that amount of money?? You're crazy. That's ridiculous. Maybe he won't notice, I thought. I hoped. I prayed.
Christmas morning arrives and I start cooking. My parents arrive sometime after 12 and my mom comes in the kitchen. What is that?? I ssh'd her and told her to keep her voice down, Daddy will hear you. I explained that I didn't know it was the same thing and she started laughing. He's going to know, you know. She told me. I sighed and meekly said, I know. My father comes into the kitchen and spies this HUGE piece of beef on my counter, immediately knowing what it was and said Oh Julie! How much did you spend? I lied. I told him $55. He said $55 my ass. How much?? $94, head hung low and shifting my weight from one trembling foot to another. Why would you spend that much money? You had a million gifts to buy and you spent almost a hundred bucks on beef?? I re-explained the story for, let's see...the 3rd time. He laughed, shaking his head. See fortunately, my family knows me. I'm not too swift on a lot of matters. Anyway, it was Christmas! If you're going to splurge, might as well do it then. Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself. Later that evening I found $40 in the pocket of my apron. I don't know if it came from my mom or my dad. They're good people!
So when my cousin was over the other night he commented that that meal was the best he has ever had. Ever! And he just got back from Italy, so I'm feeling pretty proud now. Then last night Kenny and Austin were talking about it again. Jesse chimed in oh yeah. That was SOO good. And this morning I read a story that made me think of it again. Kenny did say, hey - if we put a little money aside for the next few paychecks we can have it again this year. But we have to start saving now. I guess they like my food and to Kenny it's worth it to save up and eat really really well. The End!