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Our Top 5 Mouth-watering French and German Food Idioms

Food is loved around the world in every culture and it's not surprising as it is a necessary part of everyday life and it also brings so much pleasure! Certain countries, like France and Germany, are renowned for their food. Both locations have such a passion for food that it has travelled from the table into their languages’ everyday vernacular in the form of idioms.

Let’s take a look at the most compelling expressions from both France and Germany.

What is an Idiom?

Firstly, you might be wondering what an idiom even is. An idiom is a phrase that most often does not translate directly to what it means. For example, the term "it's raining cats and dogs" does not mean that cats and dogs fall from the skies. It instead is meant to conjure up the image that rain is falling quite heavily. Another example is “cooking up a storm”. Which implies someone is cooking a large amount of food.

Idioms are not expected to be a direct translation; they are linguistic phrases that are understood within each individual culture. Each expression carries a history with it. There is no specific timeline for idioms as a whole, but most individually can be traced back to their origin.

Top 5 Interesting French Food Idioms

Of course, France is well known for its connection with food and its strong gastronomical culture. It’s no surprise that the French language offers many food-related idioms that have continued to be used throughout the years.

Below you will find our 5 favourite French food idioms:

1. Raconter des salades

2. Rouge comme une tomate

3. Oh purée!

4. La moutarde lui monte au nez

5. En faire tout un fromage

Raconter des salades

This phrase translates to “tell salads” or “spin yarns”. The phrase is used to describe when someone is lying or "telling lies." It is an informal expression that is used in everyday conversations.

Ex. "She's known for telling salads – there’s no way she has five cars!"

Rouge comme une tomate

This phrase is also often used in English. It translates to “red as a tomato.” In other words, someone is embarrassed and had turned "red as a tomato" because of the pink/red flush that has appeared on their face. This phrase is probably well known for bilingual speakers since it is used in both English and French.

Ex. "Suzanne's face turned red as a tomato when she realised she had left the house in her pyjamas."

Oh, purée!

This phrase is a fun one - the translation is “oh mash.” This is used as a way to say, oh my gosh, or oh my goodness. This is used informally in conversation as well.

Ex. "Oh, mash! Can you believe what Jill said?"

La moutarde lui monte au nez

The translation for this one is "the mustard rises to his nose." And it describes when someone is starting to get angry. When eating spicy mustard, depending on the heat, it can produce a red flush on people's faces… very similar to how someone’s face might become red when they are angry!

Ex. "I can always tell when the mustard rises to your nose, your eyes narrow, and you go quiet."

En faire tout un fromage

This phrase translates to "make a whole cheese out of it." In other words, they are making a big deal out of something. Making cheese requires a good amount of energy and time – just as it takes energy and time to become overly upset about a topic.

Ex. "Celestine only lost a button. Does he really have to make a whole cheese out of it?"

Top 5 Fascinating German Food Idioms

Just as France is known for its food (and food idioms), so is Germany. Whereas French phrases centre around multiple different types of foods, several German expressions favour sausages in particular. Of course, there are other idioms that are food-related and don’t mention sausages. Though with a large portion of dishes that include sausages, it’s not hard to see why there are many phrases around this particular food in the German language.

Check out our top 5 fascinating German food idioms.

1. Er glaubt, er bekommt eine Extrawurst

2. Das ist mir Wurst

3. Jemandem Honig um den Mund schmeiren

4. Schokoladenseite zeigen

5. Seinen Senf dazugeben

Er glaubt, er bekommt eine Extrawurst

The English translation of this idiom is "he thinks he's getting an extra sausage." This is a way of saying someone thinks they are special because they are receiving an extra serving of something. A way to say someone is spoiled.

Ex. "Steph thinks she’s getting an extra sausage today because she did well on the last test."

Das ist mir Wurst

This phrase translates to "that is sausage to me." This phrase is used to describe something that is not meaningful to someone. Another way to say this means nothing to me.

Ex. "Simon was late to work again, but it's sausage to me."

Jemandem Honig um den Mund schmeiren

This phrase translates as "to rub honey around someone's mouth." In English, one might say to butter someone up. Essentially, it is the act of offering many compliments to someone to get them to perform a specific action.

Ex. "You'll have to rub honey around Dad's mouth before he'll agree to give you a lift!"

Schokoladenseite zeigen

When translated, this phrase means to "show the chocolate side." In other words, show your best side.

Ex. "This interview is important, make sure you show your chocolate side."

Seinen Senf dazugeben

Seinen Senf dazugeben translates to "add mustard." This would be used to describe someone who always needs to get the last word in, even if they’re not included in the conversation.

Ex. "Eliana always needs to add mustard to the conversation, even if it’s a topic she was not asked about."

There are many different idioms throughout all other languages. French and German are just two

that provide many food idioms. Idioms don’t always have to be related to food items. There are many phrases, even in English, that include random objects like "get the picture" or "hit the hay." Idioms will continue to be a part of languages for years to come. Food-related or not.

How many food-related idioms can you think of in your favourite languages?



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