Use Your Bean: The Origins of Food Idioms

Ever wonder why the wealthy are called "the upper crust" or why "sowing your wild oats" is a bad thing?

For food lovers who moonlight as word nerds, Smithsonian Magazine’s Food & Think blog offers a fun list of food idioms and their origins, which range from Shakespearean plays (“salad days” first appeared in Antony and Cleopatra) to 19th-century African-American competitions which “awarded a cake to the couple who strutted most gracefully and stylishly around it” — leading to the phrases “piece of cake,” “takes the cake” and “cakewalk.”

Even more fascinating is their follow-up list, posted a couple days later, which highlights a handful of foreign food idioms like the German “sticking your nose in every sour curd cheese” (being nosy) and the Hindi “to have mangos and sell the seeds” (to have it all).

Read more at Smithsonian Magazine:• Spilling the Beans on the Origins of Food Idioms
Deciphering the Food Idioms of Foreign Languages

Do you have a favorite food idiom, foreign or otherwise? Share it in the comments!

Related: Word of Mouth: La Grigne

(Image: Neil Palmer (CIAT) licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.