Weekend Wanderer: Spending Christmas with Rick Steves

weekend wanderer

I accidentally spent $177 on a beef tenderloin. 

One hundred and seventy-seven dollars

It all started with Rick Steves’ European Christmas. I watched it on PBS during last year’s Christmas season. 

Many times. Many, many times. 

Rick Steves’ European Christmas combines three of the best things ever — Christmas, Europe, and Rick Steves. 

Rick Steves is my secret obsession. Rick Steves got me through London with two middle schoolers. 

I took them by myself because England doesn’t have good hunting. 

But I wasn’t really by myself. I had Rick Steves! 

And on Sunday mornings, when I’m up before the sun and Action News, I curl up with a cup of tea and some Rick Steves on PBS. 

My husband, of course, knows about my obsession with Rick Steves. He thinks my obsession makes me 80 years old. But Rick Steves told me to bring a scarf to London and I was never cold. 

So yeah. Maybe I am 80 years old. 

In Rick Steves’ European Christmas, a French family makes a beef tenderloin on Christmas Eve. They wrap it in this thick dough and pair it with a bottle of red wine. 

Rick Steves has a book called — you guessed it — Rick Steves’ European Christmas. And it has a recipe for that tenderloin. 

So I put a note in my phone’s calendar for Dec. 1, 2022. Make the beef tenderloin from the Rick Steves special

Just in case I forgot.  

I didn’t forget.  

There’s a farm near me, here in Bucks County. They sell beef tenderloin. I thought having a beef tenderloin from the farm was maybe a little more European than having a beef tenderloin from the supermarket across the street. 

So I ordered my beef tenderloin. And on Saturday, I drove out to that farm. 

Open fields hugged the long driveway into the farm. Cows grazed in the expanse. 

Inside, I was dwarfed by hunters waiting to turn over their quarry for processing.  

That means the hunters were having the farm butcher their hunted game. I only say that because I didn’t know what the term “processing” meant until I married a hunter.  

Well, until I married a guy who became a hunter. 

I reflected on the hunters as I waited for my tenderloin. Once upon a time, I would have been intimidated by these ruddy guys in camo, slinging their meat around. 

Now I just find them adorable.  

I don’t know. Some girls like Fabio. I like hunters and Rick Steves. 

“One hundred and seventy-seven dollars,” the farm clerk politely told me, handing me my neatly bundled tenderloin. 

One hundred and seventy-seven dollars. One hundred and seventy-seven dollars? Rick Steves hadn’t prepared me for this! I had no idea being a French family at Christmas was so expensive! 

And it wasn’t like I could decline the purchase. I had specifically ordered it. I had driven past the cows whose brethren had been sacrificed to give me a beef tenderloin and a European Christmas.  

You can’t waste food you’ve looked in the eye! Just ask those hunters I was dwarfed by. 

I paid for my tenderloin. I tucked it carefully into my car. 

And that was when the cold sweat started. 

What had I been thinking? I’m a terrible cook. I’m not even allowed to cook my husband’s game because I ruin, well, I ruin everything. Everything! Remember the lasagna I prepared with raw beef? 

I do. 

What about the mushroom quiche that was more like mushroom soup served in a quasi-cooked pie crust? The turkey with the gooey pink center? The powdered soup mix I combined with the powdered milk I never reconstituted? 

I tried to boil it. Do you know what happens to boiled dry ingredients? 

Let’s just say the guy I was making that soup for married someone else. 

I am going to ruin this tenderloin. I’ll ruin it and we won’t have a French Christmas and I will be haunted by the ghost of the cow who gave its life for my tenderloin. 

Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. Do you think being haunted by a ghost cow is anything like being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come? 

Probably, right? 

Best case scenario, we have a very expensive French Christmas. Worst case scenario? We have a dough-wrapped raw tenderloin and a ghost cow. 

That’s almost as good as Rick Steves’ European Christmas

So let’s cook.  

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