A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Café Boeuf script
Saturday, July 2, 2005

Garrison Keillor: ...and now here is Peter Schickele with a word about the Café Boeuf.

Peter Schickele: I love the Café Boeuf because they don't waste your time with a whole long list of specials. You just come in and say what you want and then they bring you something else. Just like in real life. Bonjour, Andre!

Tim Russell: Eh? You're not sure about what?

PS: Never mind. Bring me a piece of beef, Andre.


PS: I want beef. The flesh of the animal.

TR: Oui, monsieur.

PS: An animal who lived a rich and varied life, a life of freedom, who was struck down suddenly in its prime at a moment of passionate indiscretion.


PS: I'd like it very rare, seared on the outside by a blinding flame and warm and red and pulsating on the inside.

TR: You are a brave man, monsieur. I salute you! (HE KISSES HIM TWICE ON EACH CHEEK) (FRENCH GIBBERISH, IN SALUTE) A boeuf, extra rare. France is proud of you. Here. A cigarette, monsieur.

PS: A cigarette?

TR: For flavor. For style. For the tragic sense of life. Here. (STRIKES MATCH, PS INHALES DEEPLY, EXHALES)

PS: Wow. That's my first cigarette in thirty years.

TR: It was good, no?

PS: I donno what my kids are going to think of me smoking—

TR: We do not live our lives according to the rules of children. Monsieur! We are men!!! (THREE FACE SLAPS)

PS: Thank you. I needed that.

TR: Pommes de terre, monsieur. Potatoes. How do you wish your potatoes?

PS: How about boiled?

TR: Boiled potatoes? is this a German restaurant? eh?? is my name Heinrich?? am I wearing lederhosen, my friend? is this a tuba in my hand??? is it???

PS: Sorry— sorry— No— I want my potatoes to be dug from the earth by barefoot women and washed in a cold mountain stream and then baked in a pit by snaggle-toothed crones muttering ancient incantations.

TR: Tres bien. (MUTTERING FRENCH, AS HE WRITES THIS DOWN) And a vegetable.

PS: Beans. French-style beans.

TR: Monsieur, the beans are French. It is not necessary to refer to them as French—

PS: Right.

TR: They already are French.

PS: Of course.

TR: The beans do not need your recognition in order to be French beans—

PS: No.

TR: They are well aware of it themselves.

PS: I'm sure.

TR: And we do not say, "French-style" —

PS: No.

TR: If it is French, then of course it has style.

PS: Yes.

TR: The style is assumed.

PS: I'm sorry.

TR: I don't accept your apology, I wish satisfaction. En guarde. (PS & TR SWORD FIGHT, THRUSTS, PARRIES, TEN SECONDS, THEN.....) Enough!!! Tres bien!!! Good. I salute you, mon ami. (FOUR CHEEK KISSES) So you wish beans.

PS: Beans that are sensuous, irridescent, glittering with dew. Sliced and slashed with tremendous ferocity and carelessly tossed into a pool of butter sizzling in a saucepan and braised for mere seconds and then swiftly brought to the table, half raw, half scorched.


PS: I don't care. A French wine.

TR: If you do not care, monsieur, I don't want you — go — (FRENCH DISMISSALS)

PS: No— (IN COUNTERPOINT TO FRENCH) I do care—I care deeply. — I must have it—

TR: Very well. What would you like?

PS: A red wine—

TR: Vin rouge—excellent. (FRENCH AESTHETIC PLEASURE)

PS: A Pomerol.

TR: Pomerol???? Non, non, non. Too— (DISMISSIVE FRENCH)

PS: A Merlot?

TR: A what?

PS: Never mind.

TR: You said, "Merlot"?

PS: I'm sorry.

TR: Is that the name of a detective?

PS: It just slipped out.

TR: Philip Merlot?

PS: How about a Chateaunneuf du Pape?

TR: Non, non, non....not with beef. It would insult the beef.

PS: A Zinfandel....

TR: A who?

PS: Never mind.

TR: Is that a composer?

PS: How about a Bordeaux?


PS: A Bourdeaux it is, then. A 1988.


PS: From a little village in the mountains, on the dry side of the mountain, where the soil is stony and yet complex and subtle, and the grapes are crushed under the feet of mature women singing and clapping and dancing, and the wine is effusive and yet ironical, muscular but sensuous.

TR: (FOLLOWS HIM, WRITING IT DOWN IN FRENCH)— beautiful. I'll be right back.

PS: Andre?

TR: Oui, Monsieur Schickele?

PS: What are you actually going to bring me, Andre?

TR: I'll do my best for you, monsieur—

PS: What am I likely to actually get, Andre? The truth.

TR: Ground beef, broiled, on a bun. Some cheese. Pommes frite. And a Pinot Noir.

PS: Okay. I just wanted to know.

TR: You're not insulted?

PS: Hmmmm. Yes. I think I am. En garde!!!! (SWORDFIGHT, PS & TR THRUSTS AND PARRIES, UNDER.....)

GK: The Café Boeuf. Where they're passionate about food— and wise to the ways of the world (GK & PS & TR KNOWING FRENCH LAUGH) (PLAYOFF)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

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