We’re spilling the beans on food idioms, those food-derived metaphors, aphorisms, similes, and other figures of speech that lard our language so liberally.
Even when we’re not talking about food, it works its way into our speech. You go to work and bring home the bacon, and if you’re not working for peanuts you’ll be rolling in the dough and can salt some away. When you come home at night, maybe you chew the fat with an old friend who’s one smart cookie, or just curl up like a couch potato and sink your teeth into the cream of the crop on cable TV.
You can put all your eggs in one basket or walk on eggshells, but if you lay an egg with a poor performance, you just might end up wearing egg on your face. But that’s just how the cookie crumbles. High-spirited types are full of beans, tattlers spill the beans, and bean counters can tell us if it all adds up to a hill of bean.
Food has worked its way into common slang in every language. When you’re having a good day in France they say you have the peach, while a bad day in Holland has you staring at the sloop like a herring. Lucky Americans are born with silver spoons in their mouths, while Belgians are born with their bums in butter, Spaniards arrive with a loaf of bread under their arms, and Swedes slide in on a shrimp sandwich. A fussy Australian carries on like a pork chop, a lying Russian is hanging noodles on your ears, and when you’re pushy in China they say you’re the first to have the soup.
Maybe it’s because eating is a universal experience. Maybe it’s the way food reveals so much about a culture. Maybe it’s just because food references are broadly relatable in a way that, say, astronomy or auto parts are not.
Food idioms might not be your cup of tea, but it’s impossible to go cold turkey.
That’s it in a nutshell.
all images via This is Not Grammar