The federation of milk producers for the province of Quebec has recently launched an advertising campaign to promote the great variety of excellent cheeses made here. It has enjoyed a resounding success, at least in terms of visibility, as the motif of their commercials is crossing over into the idiom of Quebecers.
The hero of their television campaign is Benoît, a friendly, but exasperating know-it-all who tests the patience of his friends with his unabashed ignorance on all sorts of subjects. He knows something about everything without knowing anything. His most grievous error, in the minds of Quebec’s cheese producers at least, is that he believes that the province has only a handful of home-grown cheeses when in fact there are over 300 varieties. You don’t have to understand French to understand the irritated looks of his companions.
His long-suffering girlfriend, Émilie, loves him anyway, but is acutely aware of his deficiency.
The word “Benoît” has become, at least in one instance, a stand-in for Cliff Clavin-like bluster. Walking the sidewalk recently on Quebec City’s Avenue Mcguire, I overheard, “ne sois pas un Benoît” – “don’t be a Benoît” – directed at a mate who had apparently spoken out of his…area of expertise.