Speaking of food …

It’s often true to say that when you think of Italy … you think of its wonderful food. Italians are extremely passionate about cooking and eating, from the ingredients found in their ‘orto’ to the do’s and don’ts of the final touches … ‘To parmesan or not to parmesan?’ Food is such a passion that it is included in many phrases – some to compliment and some to insult – and in today’s post I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.

(I’ve put the saying first in bold, and then the literal translation followed by the equivalent English saying) … Buon appetito!

We of course start with ‘antipasti’ and ‘zuppe’ …

O mangi la minestra o salti dalla finestra – Eat this soup or jump out of the window … It’s my way or the highway

Chi si loda, s’imbroda – He who praises himself, spills broth over himself … Pride comes before a fall

Non fare il salame! – Don’t act like a salami … Don’t be an idiot!

Avere il prosciutto sugli occhi – To have ham over your eyes … To have your head in the sand

And no Italian meal is complete without bread

Non è farina del mio sacco That’s not flour from my sack … It wasn’t my idea

Rendere pan per focaccia – To give back bread for focaccia … An eye for an eye / Tit for tat

È buone come il pane – He’s like good bread … He’s a decent person

Then the ‘prima’ or pasta dish

Avere le mani di pasta frolla – To have pastry dough hands … Butter fingers

Avere le mani in pasta – To have your hands in the pasta … To have a finger in every pie / To be well connected

Sta come il cacio sui maccheroni – It’s like cheese on pasta … It’s the perfect combination / It fits to a T

Then the ‘seconda’ or meat dish

Conosco i miei polli – I know my chickens … I know what I’m talking about

Essere un polentone – To be a polenta eater … To be a slow coach or to be awkward


With a selection of ‘contorni’ or vegetables

Cavolo! – Cabbage … Heck or Bugger! (Used in the company of children in place of a more offensive word). An example is ‘Che cavolo vuoi?’ meaning ‘What the heck do you want?’

C’entra come i cavoli come merenda – It’s as appropriate as having cabbage as a snack … To have nothing to do with, probably the English equivalent would be ‘As useful as a chocolate teapot’

Avere sale in zucca – To have salt on your pumpkin … To have your head screwed on. Zucca is sometimes used to mean head and you’re a clever person to know to sprinkle salt on pumpkin and other winter squashes to balance its natural sweetness.

Sei come il prezzemolo – You’re like parsley … You turn up everywhere, referring to the use of parsley in many Italian dishes

Wine obviously features in our list

Finire a taralluci e vino – To end up with cookies and wine … All’s well that ends well

Volere la botte piena e la moglia ubriaca – To want a full bottle and a drunk wife … To have your cake and eat it

Dire pane al pane e vino al vino – To call bread, bread and wine, wine …To call a spade a spade (obviously English are more concerned with gardening than drinking!)

And you can always find room for ‘dolce’ or dessert

Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco – Not all doughnuts come with a hole … Things don’t always turn out as planned

Che figata! – What a fig! … ‘That’s cool!’

Non m’importa un fico secco – I don’t give a dried fig … I don’t give a damn

So the next time you’re struggling to put something into words, take a look at this list to see if something ‘tickles your taste buds’, or ‘fits the bill’. Wait a moment … maybe the English are as obsessed with food and eating out as the Italians!

4 Comments, RSS

  1. John and Beni March 7, 2017 @ 11:05 am

    I do not think we will ever learn to speak Portuguese,although it can’t be as difficult as Greek! Really enjoying your anecdotes, makes a pleasant change from packing and deciding what we want to take and what we can leave behind in the charity shop! Keep up the good work.

    • Mid-Lifer Italy March 7, 2017 @ 11:21 am

      Thanks for your comment … I hope the packing is going well. Not long to go now is there? You’ll certainly be missed from the neighbourhood but a new chapter of your lives beckons and I’m sure you’ll love it! xx

  2. June Neal March 9, 2017 @ 9:50 am

    Hi – I have enjoyed reading the recent posts and will catch up on the earlier ones. You have both settled in so well and are thoroughly enjoying your new lives and challenges. I look forward to reading more on the home renovation. Have a great time.

    • Mid-Lifer Italy March 9, 2017 @ 9:57 am

      Thanks for your comment … glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes we can’t believe we’ve been up at the house nearly a full year now, getting ready for our second spring here only hopefully more organised than last year!

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