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Did Sarkozy really ban cheese from the Elysee Palace?

This Telegraph story has been making the Internet rounds today: It is an admission that is verging on sacrilegious for a French president. But Nicolas Sarkozy’s top chef has revealed that the French head of state has banned cheese from the table at the Elysée Palace. Charles de Gaulle once famously declared: "How can anyone ...

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

This Telegraph story has been making the Internet rounds today:

It is an admission that is verging on sacrilegious for a French president. But Nicolas Sarkozy’s top chef has revealed that the French head of state has banned cheese from the table at the Elysée Palace.

Charles de Gaulle once famously declared: "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?"

The fitness mad Mr Sarkozy has chosen to remove the source of De Gaulle’s angst from his sight, according to presidential chef Bernard Vaussion, who is cooking for his fifth French head of state.

J’accuse! The notion of a French president removing cheese from his sight — at the request of his supermodel wife, naturally — is pretty delicious. Unfortunately, that’s not what Vaussion said at all. The quotes come from an interview with the AFP, which is neither cited nor linked in the Telegraph story. Here’s what the chef said about the cheese:

The right-wing president personally approves the menu every morning, as his predecessors Francois Mitterrand and Valery Giscard d’Estaing did before him.

"He writes ‘yes’ in the margin next to the dishes I propose," said the cook, who happily notes that the incumbent has a healthy appetite.

But Sarkozy is also health conscious, preferring "light, balanced meals and poultry to red meat", in a clear break with his predecessors who were not afraid of rich fare, even at lunchtime.

Sarkozy also did away with cheese after meals, he noted.

That’s it! Sarkozy has chosen to forgo a cheese course after meals. That is not the same thing as issuing some kind of anti-fromage fatwa. 

The Telegraph might want to clarify before angry mobs start pelting him with wheels of camembert.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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