Around the World in 23 Food Idioms

All over the world, meals have been shared and enjoyed since the beginning of human history. But the family meals we all share look different in every community, and therefore so do the elements of said meals that have made their way into the everyday lives of the people from different cultures, specifically into their languages. Here are 23 ways in which food has reflected itself in different languages around the world. If there are any interesting food idioms in your language, please leave them in the comments below!

-B

Country of Origin

Original Saying Literal Translation Meaning

Poland

Wpuścić kogoś w maliny Letting someone in the raspberry bushes Knowingly setting someone up for difficulties

Spain

Vete a feír espárragos Go fry asparagus Go away, leave me be

Korea

닭 껍질 Chicken skin Very cheesy

France

Occupe-toi de tes oignons Mind your own onions

Mind your own business

China

吃闭门羹 To eat the closed door soup

To be excluded from a gathering or party

Germany

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei. Everything has an end; only a sausage has two

Everything must end

Spain

Estar hasta en la sopa To be even in the soup

To be overly present

Norway

Bare blåbær Just blueberries

Something small or unimportant

Germany

Rosinen im Koph haben To have raisins in one’s head To have big ideas
Hebrew & Arabic Yom asal, yom basal One day honey, one day onion

Life is made of both happy and sad days

Sweden

Lätt som en plätt Easy as a pancake Piece of cake

Italy

In mezzo come il prezzemolo In the way like parsley

To be in the way

Germany Zucker kommt zuletzt Sugar comes last

Save the best for last

Spain

Ser la leche To be the milk To be the best
Russia вешать лапшу на уши To hang noodles on someone’s ears

To pull someone’s leg

Germany

Seinen Senf dazugeben To add one’s mustard To have one’s say
Italy Entrarci come i cavoli a merenda To be like cabbages for a snack

To be out of place

Portugal

Descascar o abacaxi To peel the pineapple To solve a complicated problem
Sweden Ha rent mjöl i påsen. To have clean flour in one’s bag

To have no skeletons in the closet

French

Mettre du beurre dan les épinards To add butter to the spinach To earn a bit extra
India Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad A monkey doesn’t know the taste of ginger and therefore can’t appreciate it

It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate something

Holland

Daar kan ik geen chocola van maken I can’t make chocolate from that

That is so illogical, it’s useless

Ireland Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras Hunger is the best sauce

Being hungry makes everything taste better

Main sources:

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24 thoughts on “Around the World in 23 Food Idioms

  1. Loved the post. There’s another one in India, in Hindi – “Oont Ke Muhh May Jeera” – Literally translates to – Cumins in a Camel’s mouth. Means – Something that is way too less/insufficient. (As a camel will still be hungry if you feed it some cumins).

    Like

  2. Hi
    I loved this post 🙂
    I just wanna correct the meaning of Indian idiom, the meaning is more like this – A monkey doesn’t
    know the taste of ginger, therefore, can’t appreciate it. Just a slight difference!

    Liked by 1 person

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