Jealousy in Romance Is Like Salt in Food

Maya Angelou? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I once read a piece by the prominent memoirist and poet Maya Angelou that contained a fascinating simile depicting jealousy in a love affair as a spice or salt because it enhanced the flavor of the relationship. I have not been able to relocate this passage, and now I am less certain she wrote it. Would you please help locate this quotation?

Quote Investigator: In 1993 Maya Angelou released a collection titled “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now”. One short passage titled “Jealousy” referred to that puissant emotion as an intoxicant but also included a cautionary note. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

It must be remembered, however, that jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In October 1993 Angelou’s volume was examined in “The Hartford Courant” of Connecticut, and the reviewer drew attention to the remark about jealousy: 2

Her writing is as gentle as a mist, and as powerful as daybreak, and she has the capacity to swing back and forth with grace. The essays are short — two, three pages — beautifully written, and applicable to just about anybody. . .

On jealousy: “Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life threatening.”

In 2000 Angelou’s words were included in the “Encarta Book of Quotations” which correctly cited “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now”. 3

In 2005 the “Sun Sentinel” of Fort Lauderdale, Florida published an article titled “Jealousy Unleashes Unhealthy Emotions” that included an instance: 4

Now, with intimate relationships, I quote Maya Angelou: “Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.”

I have girlfriends who do things intentionally to make their boyfriends jealous, because they want to be reassured that he does in fact care about them.

In conclusion, Maya Angelou did craft a cogent statement about jealousy which she included in a book she published in 1993.

Image Notes: Maya Angelou image by National Park Service employee. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons. Illustration of carnival masks from lillith at Pixabay. Images have been cropped and resized.

(Great thanks to K whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)

Notes:

  1. 1993, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou, Section: Jealousy, Quote Page 129, Random House, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1993 October 10, The Hartford Courant, Section: Arts, Article: Angelou’s passionate wisdom, Author/Byline: Susan Campbell (Courant Staff Writer), Quote Page G3, Hartford, Connecticut. (NewsBank Access World News)
  3. 2000, Encarta Book of Quotations edited by Bill Swainson, Section: Maya Angelou, Quote Page 23, Published by St. Martin’s Press, New York. (Google Books Preview)
  4. 2005 October 19, Sun Sentinel (South Florida Sun-Sentinel), Section: Community News, Article: Jealousy Unleashes Unhealthy Emotions, Author/Byline: Vanessa Alonso (University of Florida Western High graduate), Quote Page 4, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (NewsBank Access World News)