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We’d like to talk about your language!


30th January 2020

Can you think of a phrase or idiom in the English language that uses food to describe something? Have you ever used the phrase ‘couch potato’ about an idle person or ‘it was a piece of cake’ because a task was easy? These are great examples of idioms in the English language.


Fashionable food blog Gascony Cookery School


In France there are many food related idioms which are regularly used – here are some of them!

  • ‘Triste comme un repas sans fromage’ (a meal without cheese)

This is said when something is very sad or a sad sight to see.

  •  ‘Pour une bouchée de pain’ (for a mouthful of bread)

A phrase  used when something is purchased for a small amount or is inexpensive.

  • ‘Ramener sa fraise’ (to bring your strawberry)

When you ‘bring a strawberry’ into a conversation you’ve joined it without being invited to or you’ve butted in.

  • ‘Va te faire cuire un œuf’ (go cook an egg)

English use ‘get lost’ and this is the French equivalent but in a more productive way!

  • ‘être dans les choux’ (to be in the cabbage)

If you are in a mess or a poor situation this expression would be used. This idiom is a play on words between ‘chou’ (cabbage) and ‘échouer’. The verb échouer means ‘to fail’. This sounds just like chou!

  •  ‘Cracher dans la soupe’ (to spit on the soup)

A term used about being ungrateful. In English the equivalent phrase would be ‘to bite the hand that feeds you’

  • ‘Occupe-toi de tes oignons or Mêle-toi de tes oignons’  (mind your own onions)

In other words, mind your own business!

  • ‘Avoir du pain sur la planche’ (to have bread on the board)

Ever had too much to do? This is the phrase you would use. The English would use ‘to have their work cut out for them’

  • ‘Haut comme trois pommes’ (as tall as three apples)

If you are short this may be used to describe you.

  • ‘En faire tout un fromage’ (make a whole cheese about it)

An expression used when a big deal or a big fuss is made about a situation or someone.

  • ‘Avoir le melon’ (to have the melon)

If someone is sure of themselves, cocky or over-confident they would have melon!

  • ‘Mettre du beurre dans les épinards’ (to put butter in the spinach)

This means to improve your financial situation or to earn some more. It’s thought this comes from getting enough money to buy butter to add to spinach to make it taste better!

  • ‘Une quiche’ (a savoury, unsweetened pie-like dish with cheese, vegetables, meat or seafood)

An expression used when someone is bad at doing something! Be careful who you call a quiche!

  • ‘Être soupe au lait’ (to be milk soup)

This phrase is used when someone is feeling tetchy or irritable and would easily get angry. It comes from cooking soup with the addition of milk which can boil over easily is not watched closely. ‘

  • ‘Raconter des salades’ (to tell salads)

If you’re telling lies or making up stores you are telling salads!

  • ‘Rouge comme une tomate’ (red as a tomato)

A phrase used when embarrassed so it speaks for itself.

  •  ‘Couper la poire en deux’ (to cut the pear in half)

Used when you want to split the bill or to reach a compromise

  • ‘C’est la fin des haricots’ (it’s the end of the beans)

Beans are a basic ingredient, so when there’s none left it’s dire and the end of the beans! Don’t worry It’s only usually used to make light of a serious situation.

  • Mettre de l’eau dans son vin’ (to put water on the wine)

If you’ve backed down on an argument or toned down your stance you will have watered down your wine.

  • ‘Être beurré’ (to be buttered)

Means you are completely sozzled! Definitely different to the English version of ‘buttering up’ to someone when you want something, though alcohol could be involved!

You can rest assured the Gascony Cookery School kitchen will not give you ‘a meal without cheese’ or ‘put water in your wine’! Indeed, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the many fresh ingredients, local cheeses and wines the Gascony region has to offer throughout your stay with us. So, why not take a look at our courses here.

David & Bernard

David, Vikki & Bernard







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