London, Apr 6: Nicolas Sarkozy has done away with cheese after meals at his official residence at the Elysee Palace, according to the presidential chef.
The fitness mad French President said no to cheese, chef Bernard Vaussion explained, as “it was too much” for him.
The French were famously dubbed “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” by angry US Republicans when they failed to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Sarkozy’s aversion to the food would be seen verging on sacrilegious for a country that Charles de Gaulle once remarked had “two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese”.
The health-conscious leader opts instead for “light, balanced meals and poultry to red meat”, his chef said, in a clear break with his predecessors who were not afraid of heartier fare, even at lunchtime, the Telegraph reported.
The French had already found it hard to swallow the fact that their leader drinks no wine, a source of great national pride. The latest revelation risks striking another symbolic blow to his credentials as a flag-bearer of French gastronomy.
On the advice of his former supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, 13 years his junior, the one-time chocoholic president has been on a fitness and nutrition programme for most of his presidency, served a frugal diet of fish, vegetables, salads and sorbets. Cottage cheese, it is believed, still makes the grade.
Some blamed the low-calorie diet for him collapsing in 2009 during one of his gruelling daily jogs.
However, with presidential elections just three weeks away, he has chosen to throw his normal dietary rules out of the window if it can help him win a second five-year term.
Sarkozy kicked off his re-election campaign with a visit to a cheese-making factory in the Alpine city of Annecy, also stoically accepting chocolate, crepes and sausages from shopkeepers.
“I’ll put on three kilos and it’s only the first day,” he joked before going on to enjoy a fondue lunch with a group of supporters.
He then spent four hours at Paris’ annual agricultural fair accepting offerings of langoustine, chocolate and Reblochon cheese in a bid to stave off the National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen claimed to be the “champion” of rural France. (ANI)