Auto parts suppliers and beef Wellington

by Jonah

Mobile, AL

Yes, we’re still in Mobile. The truck is requiring a good bit of work, which keeps Berck occupied and gives me time to sort through my life as I pack up my room.

Berck thinks he’s found the source of the clacking in the engine. One of the rod tips had nearly broken off. We were lucky; if we hadn’t replaced it, it could have mucked up the engine pretty good when it dislocated completely. So hopefully a five-dollar part will solve that problem.

Berck is also worried about the radiator. It doesn’t seem to be cooling as well as it should, but new radiators for this truck apparently don’t exist anywhere. There’s a company called Radiators-R-Us or something that say they can BUILD us one…but that will take a few weeks and 3 to 4 hundred dollars.

Fortunately, Berck discovered that the thermostat was a rather high temperature one. He thinks if we run without one or with a much cooler one, the truck will do much better pulling a trailer.

My birthday is March 23, but we celebrated last night (in case I wasn’t around by then). Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, and I replied with the same answer I’d been giving her for nearly all of the last 15 years: beef Wellington. It’s kind of a tradition. Mom answers with, “How about steak and shrimp kabobs?” and I say okay.

This time, Berck was present. “Beef Wellington? What is beef Wellington?” I told him I wasn’t really sure because I’d never had it, but I’d always wanted to try it. “You’ve been asking for the same thing for 15 years, and you don’t even know what it IS?” Then he turned to Mom. “She’s been asking for the same thing for 15 years, and you’ve never made it for her? She’s your own daughter! In my family, we ALWAYS got WHATEVER we wanted for our birthday dinner.”

Mom mumbled something about not knowing how to make it but then started scrounging through recipe books. “Well, it’s not good enough for Martha Stewart,” she said, slamming one thick book shut. In the end, she decided the recipe in the Joy of Cooking was best.

If you’ve never had it, beef Wellington is an entire beef tenderloin smeared with mushrooms and pate and wrapped in a puff pastry crust to be roasted in the oven. It’s a ridiculously expensive dish, the main reason I never got it for my birthday. Fortunately, beef tenderloins were on sale this week at Bruno’s for $9.99/lb. Mom thought she’d just buy some pate to save the trouble of making it, but 8 ounces cost $10, while a cup of chicken livers cost 99 cents. She made a marvelous pate, which we kept dipping spoons into, lamenting that we had nothing in the house worthy of coating with it. It amazes me that something as disgusting as liver can be so easily transformed into something so delectable.

There are several stories about the origin of beef Wellington, although all agree it was named after the famous British general who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Some say he insisted this dish be served at any official dinners he hosted. Others insist that while the dish is named in honor of the duke, he was actually so impartial to food that many of his cooks quit, feeling their talents were utterly wasted on his palate.

Mom did a fabulous job. The beef was cooked to perfection, a deep pink throughout. She also made an amazing spinach and strawberry vinaigrette, salad. Steph brought her famous hot potato salad (a mouthwatering combination of potatoes, bacon, cheese, and butter that, given the opportunity, Berck will eat every last morsel of as quickly as possible). Berck cooked some wonderful fresh asparagus. Uncle Dave made me a beautiful cinnamon cake topped with slivered almonds and huge slices of fresh strawberries. It was the best birthday meal I can ever remember.

But if we’re still around on the 23rd, maybe I’ll get another one. I called the apartment complex in Oklahoma, and the lady in the office moved up our move-in date, no problem. We’ll get there when we get there, I guess.

Leave a Reply