Because food is an important part of the Spanish identity, it is with no surprise that food-related expressions figure so largely in the Spanish language. Here’s a taste of our favourites:
Ser del año de la pera
Literally meaning ‘to be from the year of the pear’, this expression is used when people refer to something old fashioned.
Dar las uvas
In Spain it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve. So the expression ‘nos van a dar las uvas’ (they’ll give us the grapes) is often used in Spain to mean that you will arrive late somewhere – you won’t arrive on time to eat the grapes.
Partir el bacalao
In Spain ‘to be the one who cuts the cod’ funnily means to be the boss or the one in charge. This expression probably originates from the 16th century, when the foreman was in charge of cutting the salt cod and dividing it among workers.
Al pan, pan y al vino, vino
‘To the wine, wine and to the bread, bread’ is a way of saying to say it as it is. In English the common expression would be to call a spade a spade.
Estar como un queso
Ah Spain and its love for cheeses… To say that someone is ‘like a cheese’ is to express he/she is very attractive. Other qualifying adjectives used in Spanish to describe someone who is very attractive also include: Estar para mojar pan (to be for dipping bread), Estar jamón (to be ham), Es un bombón (He/she is a chocolate).
Estar de mala leche
‘Being of bad milk’ in Spain means to be in a bad mood, have bad intentions or be angry and unpleasant.
Dar una galleta
Oft used by kids and teenagers, ‘to give a cookie’ means to slap someone, although it’s also an expression to describe a skate, bike, car or other thing smashing into a wall/tree…
De uvas a peras
In Spain, grapes are usually harvested during fall and pears in late summer. Therefore, saying ‘from grapes to pears’ means that something occurs infrequently or very rarely.
Estoy más seco que un bacalao
Back to fish, although by saying ‘I’m dryer than salt cod’ you’ll mean that you’re flat broke.
No todo el monte es oregano
‘Not all the hill is oregano’ is an expression that means you can’t expect everything to be wonderful. In English we’ve got ‘life is not a bowl of cherries’.
Importar un pepino
The idiom ‘Not to matter a cucumber’ – which is also widespread in Latin America in other forms (using cumin, radish or pepper instead of cucumber) is a form of saying you couldn’t care less about something.
Esto es pan comido
The expression ‘this is eaten bread’ means that something is very easy to do, it is the Spanish translation of ‘this is a piece of cake’.