As we know, exploring the gastronomy is a great way to know a culture. Looking at the popular expressions, proverbs and sayings in a culture is a great way to understand the mentality of its people.
So, taking a look at the phrases or idioms that were crafted over centuries about food in the Spanish society not only gives us a glimpse into how they perceive life, but also about the importance of the food in their language since it is used in popular phrases and idioms.
There are tons of food-related colloquial expressions. In this first delivery, we will mostly focus on those pertaining to the general lifestyle emblematic of the Spanish people, like the Mediterranean Diet we recently described you, as a way to look into the Spanish soul.
Sayings about good food habits
Let us start with a few we know because they are commonly used in many countries/cultures, including in the American one:
- “Una manzana al día mantiene al médico en la lejanía”, which means “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. That is, of course, an allusion that if you eat well, especially fruits, you will be healthy and it is a proverb known worldwide with some regional variations.
- “Quien come con cordura, por su salud procura”, translates as “Who eats with sanity, provides for his health”, meaning “We are what we eat”, another saying that links your health to what you eat.
- “Caldo de gallina es reconocida medicina”, translates in English as “Chicken soup is a known medicine”. Something that is almost universal and is especially appropriate if you get a cold in the coming months.
- “Hay que comer para vivir, no vivir para comer” means “Eating to live, not living to eat”, indicating you have to eat to live, but not to an excess, it is just one part of life.
- “Desayunar como un rey, comer como un príncipe y cenar como un mendigo”, which means “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar”, showing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Then let us take a look at a few that are more specific to the culture of Spain.
- “Pan, vino y carne… crían buena sangre” translates as “Bread, wine, and meat … make good blood”, meaning this combination of food (typical of the Spanish cuisine) will keep you in good health.
- “El aceite de oliva es armero, relojero y curandero” is “Olive oil is a gunsmith, a watchmaker and a healer”, meaning it is a jack of all trades and it will protect, extend and take care of your health. That is why olive oil is such an integral part of not only the Spanish cuisine but also all the traditional cooking done around the Mediterranean sea.
- “De la panza sale la danza”, which translates in English as “From the stomach comes the dance”, indicating you have to eat in order to have the energy to do other things, like dancing. Eating and dancing are two pillars of any culture, no wonder they made their way into proverbs of popular wisdom.
- “Al pan, pan y al vino, vino” means “To the bread, bread and to the wine, wine”, meaning you have to call the things by their name and say things clearly.
- “Comer sin trabajar no se debe tolerar”, “Eating without working should not be tolerated”, that one can be interpreted as “Eat only as little/much as you work” (so you can burn the calories). So, it is another call to moderate eating.
Food, the Spanish way
As you can see, Spaniards use food in many proverbs and sayings. Some we know because we have similar ones, others are a bit strange or unusual for us, because they represent a culture and a reality different than ours, a piece of the Spanish soul.
In Spain, the culinary traditions are centuries old. Some dishes are still prepared and served as they have been for hundreds of years. Why? Once you find the perfect combination and ingredients and how to mix them together properly, why would you want to mess with perfection?
You can absorb more of the rich Spanish culture by enjoying delicious meals at any of the three locations of Socarrat in NYC. Come for a full meal with paella, seafood, tortilla,… or just stop by with friends for tapas and wine, use any excuse to get into the Spanish way of life of enjoying food and wine with friends.