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Le espressioni idiomatiche con il cibo Posted by on Dec 11, 2020 in Italian Language

Le espressioni idiomatiche con il cibo – Idiomatic expressions with food

Le espressioni idiomatiche are essential parts of learning and understanding a language. They are informal phrases that typically have a meaning different from the meaning of the actual words. Often they don’t even make sense at all. Per esempio in inglese si dice “go bananas”… ma come mai vuol dire “to go crazy?” Non ha senso!1avere senso – to make sense 

We all know Italian is synonymous with good food and wine. So it’s only fitting that they celebrate that in their language. Here are 20 idiomatic expressions all about food!

Image from Pixabay, CCO.

1. Buono come il pane – Good as bread

Someone who has a ‘heart of gold.’

2. O bere o affogare – Drink or drown

Like saying someone is going to ‘sink or swim.’

3. I frutti proibiti sono i più dolci – Forbidden fruit is sweetest

When you want what you can’t have.

4. Minestra riscaldata – Reheated soup

When something goes wrong, usually a romantic relationship, and you lose interest. Reheated soup is just never as good, vero?

5. Ha molto sale in zucca – Has a lot of salt in their pumpkin (their head)

Someone who is very intelligente and has a lot of sense.

6. È tutto pepe! – He/She is all pepper

Someone who is full of life, since pepper spices up many dishes!

7. Tutto fa brodo – Everything makes broth (soup)

Every little thing counts.

8. C’entra come i cavoli a merenda – It fits like cabbage for the afternoon snack

Which is to say, it doesn’t. It’s out of place.

9. Sei come il prezzemolo– You are like parsley

Parsley is a common herb in Italian cuisine so this means you pop up everywhere or are always in the way.

10. Sono pieno come un uovo – I am as full as an egg

I’m stuffed!

11. Essere in un bel pasticcio – To be in a nice pie

Like in English when you are in a ‘pickle’.

12. È rigido come un baccala – He/She is as rigid as a salted cod

When you are not comfortable in a situation.

13. Avere le mani di pasta frolla – To have pasta dough hands

To have ‘butter fingers.’

14. Avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca –  A full wine barrel and a drunk wife

As we say, have your cake and eat it too.

15. Rendere pan per focaccia – To give back bread for focaccia

An ‘eye for an eye’ or payback.

16. Fare polpette di qualcuno – To make meatballs of someone

You have to ground your meat to make meatballs, so this means to treat someone roughly. Or to make ‘mincemeat’ out of someone.

17. Due dita di vino e una pedata al medico – Two drops of wine and we can kick the doctor out the door

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have some vino to keep the doctor away.

18. Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare – Eat to live, don’t live to eat

Work to live, don’t live to work.

19. Conosco i miei polli – I know my chicken

Chicken is another popular Italian dish, so this means to know the basics.

20. Tutto finisce a tarallucci e vino – It all ends with biscuits and wine

Everything’s going to be just fine. We might say it’s all ‘gravy.’

Write any more Italian idiomatic expressions with food below!

  • 1
    avere senso – to make sense
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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. Isia Tlusty-Sheen:

    In English the expression ‘butter fingers’ means someone who is clumsy literally lets things drop we don’t normally say ‘to have butter fingers’

  2. Ridi, ridi che la mamma ha fatto i gnocchi !:

    Ridi, ridi che la mamma ha fatto i gnocchi ! espressione sarcastica.

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