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Expressions From 13 Languages For People Who Are Always Hungry

We’ve collected idioms about food for any situation.

Time for lunch! Your stomach growls, you sit on the edge of your office chair, your lunchbox stands prominently nearby and the dish within waits for you to warm it up. You want to eat. Actually, you always want to eat because you’re one of those people who is always hungry. However, “because it’s what grown-ups do” you keep your meals within the socially acceptable times (so long as you’re in public, anyway).

You turn to your colleague to ask her if she’d like to take her lunch break with you, but before a sound can come out of your mouth you see a tear rolling down her cheek. Panicked, you look at your lunchbox. Tears mean having to ask “why are you crying?”, and the ensuing answer is normally never short. Can you simply ignore the tears? After all, you’re hungry. You can keep quiet and sneak to the kitchen alone. Maybe you can stay undetected if you crawl under the desk. But your growling stomach would probably give you away. But you treasure your colleague’s friendship far too much to leave her all alone… Eating or keeping your friend? The moral dilemma of the trolley problem can’t even compare.

Suddenly, you are struck by a flash of inspiration: you can easily have it both ways by asking your colleague what’s wrong, but bring the conversation — very subtly — towards the subject of food, ensuring that you get your lunch break after all. So you finally ask, and discover why your colleague’s crying: her boyfriend broke up with her. You decide to finally tell her, in a nutshell, what you’ve been holding back:

“Look,” you say, “I don’t want to break sugar on your ex-boyfriend’s back (French: casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un, ‘to say unkind things about someone’), but I can see that you have a lot on your potato (French: en avoir gros sur la patate, ‘to be sad’), so maybe it will cheer you up if I add my mustard (German: meinen Senf dazugebe, ‘give you my two cents’).

“Your ex thinks he’s the big cheese, but in reality he only has porridge in his head (Russian: у него каша в голове — u nego kasha v golove, ‘he’s mixed up’). He has bad milk (Spanish: tiene mala leche, ‘to have a bad temper’), he’s an unfaithful tomato (German: eine treulose Tomate sein, ‘to be disloyal’), and was always hanging spaghetti on your ears (Russian: лапшу на уши вешать — lapshu na ushi veshat’ , ‘to lie’). Furthermore, he looks like a dog sucking a mango (Brazilian Portuguese: o cão chupando manga, ‘a very ugly person’).

“To keep it short: He really was not the egg yolk (German: nicht das Gelbe vom Ei, ‘not the best option’), and the fact that you even liked him shows that you have an artichoke heart (French: avoir un cœur d’artichaut, ‘to fall in love too easily’). So have a banana (French: avoir la banane, ‘smile’) and don’t think about him any more!”

Your colleague appears thankful and wipes the tears from her eyes. “You’re right! Thanks for cheering me up. You’re as good as bread (Italian: sei buono come il pane, “to be a good person”). Let’s go to lunch now, our conversation somehow made me very hungry…”

Still not hungry enough? Here are even more idioms about food:

English

That’s the way the cookie crumbles! — (that’s just the way things go)
Not my cup of tea — (not appealing to me)
To cut the cheese — (to fart)

German

Du gehst mir auf den Keks. — “You go on my cookie.” (You get on my nerves.)
Die beleidigte Leberwurst sein
— “to be an offended liver sausage” (to be unnecessarily upset)
Es geht um die Wurst. — “It’s about the sausage.” (It’s now or never.)

French

Avoir de la brioche — “to have a brioche” (to have a little bit of a tummy)
Être haut comme trois pommes — “to be three apples tall” (to be “knee-high to a grasshopper”)
Raconter des salades — “to tell some salad” (to tell tall tales)

Hindi

(Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad?) — “What does a monkey know about the taste of ginger?” (You’re an idiot, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.)
(Muft ki rotiyan todna) — “tearing chapatis (Indian flatbread) for free” (being a freeloader)
Kis khel ki mooli hai — “Which farm is that radish from?” (You’re trying to act smart, but I know you’re a fool.)

Italian

Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani — “It’s better to have an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.)
Se non è zuppa è pan bagnato — “If it’s not soup, it’s wet bread.” (There is practically no difference)

Japanese

逃がした魚は大きい。 (Nigashita sakana wa ookii.) — “The escaped fish was the biggest.” (Every missed chance seems better than it really was.)
花よりだんご。 (
hana yori dango) — “better dumplings than flowers” (practical things are more useful than decoration)

Dutch

Dat zal me worst wezen. — “That will be sausages to me.” (I couldn’t care less.)
Ergens geen kaas van gegeten hebben. — “to not have eaten any of the cheese” (to have no idea about something)

Polish

Żyć jak pączek w maśle — “to live like a donut in butter” (“to be as happy as a pig in mud”; to be extremely content)
Masło maślane — “buttery butter” (the same thing twice over; redundant)
Rzucać grochem o ścianę — “to throw peas at a wall” (to do something in vain)

Brazilian Portuguese

Comer o pão que o diabo amassou — “to eat the bread the devil kneaded” (to go through very hard times)
Se achar o último biscoito no pacote — “to feel like the last cookie in the package” (to feel very special)

Portuguese

Afoga-se mais gente em vinho do que em água. — “More people drown in wine than water” (alcohol can ruin people’s lives)
O que não mata engorda. — “What doesn’t kill you makes you fatter.” (play on words for What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.)

Spanish

Para comer pescado hay que mojarse el culo. — “To eat fish you need to get your ass wet.” (You have to make an effort to get the good things in life.)
Tocarle los huevos a alguien — “to touch someone’s eggs” (to anger someone)

Swedish

Inte för allt smör i Småland! — “Not for all the butter in Småland” (“not for all the tea in China”; No way!)
Nu är det kokta fläsket stekt! — “Now the boiled bacon is fried!” (“my goose is cooked”; I’m in trouble)
Nu blir det andra bullar! — “Now there will be other bread rolls!” (“No more Mr. Nice Guy!”)

Turkish

Armudun iyisini ayılar yer. — “The good pears are eaten by bears.” (The least deserving people get the rewards.)
Üzüm üzüme baka baka kararır. — “Grapes get darker by looking at each other” (People who are close start to resemble each other over time.)

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