I stumbled across a rather strange quote whereby Colette apparently said “Un homme qui n’aime pas le fromage ne peut être bien au lit” (“A man who does not like cheese cannot be good in bed”). Few things pique my attention the way unlikely attributions do, and whilst I can see the rest of the world loving the idea of the glorious Colette dropping bon mots about men and cheese, to a French reader, the simplistic sentence structure and the quip itself seemed inelegant and unworthy of her writing. And “bien au lit”? that doesn’t really translate as “good in bed” — more like “comfortable in bed”, really.
A bit of
googling detective work suggests to me that this attribution originated with that tacky book “French Women Don’t Get Fat”… which made me roll my eyes even harder, because it’s such a ridiculous concept. Even more suspiciously, there were no French results for this quote!
So I harnessed the power of the internet to search Colette’s canon for mentions of fromage. Nothing linking cheese and sex showed up in her most famous books, however a slightly more obscure book Paysages et Portraits contained this:
Si j’avais un fils à marier, je lui dirais :
“Méfie-toi de la jeune fille qui n’aime ni le vin, ni la truffe,
ni le fromage, ni la musique.”
If I had a son to marry off, I would tell him:
“Beware the young woman who does not like wine, truffles,
Cheese or music.”
I find it fascinating how her original words seem to have been twisted from celebrating the value of a young woman who loves rich and delicious food when choosing a life partner, to being misquoted (and downgraded, in my opinion) to a blasé statement about men who don’t like cheese being bad in bed.
That said, if anyone can find the original Colette reference, I will take it all back. Maybe Colette had inelegant moments after all!