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’ …
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
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 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
Essere un polentone – To be a polenta eater … To be a slow coach or to be awkward
With a selection of ‘contorni’ or vegetables
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
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
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!