Edible French Comes Out Today!

EDIBLE FRENCH, my new book of food-related French idioms, is released today.

EDIBLE FRENCH explores fifty of the most evocative French expressions related to food with cultural notes, recipes, and whimsical watercolors by my talented friend Mélina Josserand.

It’s a project that has been brewing in my mind for years and years, and as a lover of both food and language, I am thrilled to be able to share it with you now.

I am also incredibly pleased with how the physical object turned out; the production team has done a wonderful job of it. It’s a book that feels very loveable, and the quality of the paper — thick, matte, with a bit of texture — really brings out the beauty of Melina’s watercolors, almost as if they were originals. I can tell that the people I show it to don’t really want to let go once they have it in their hands, and I hope you feel that way too.

I have set up a companion site for the book where you can view excerpts and listen to the expressions and example sentences featured in the book.

And if you plan to be in Paris in the coming weeks, I have two book events lined up on October 14 and November 29 (all details here).

EDIBLE FRENCH is now available in the US and Canada, in France, and in the UK.

See below for an animated sneak peek of the book, and details about the giveaway.

To celebrate the release, I have five copies to give away!

To enter, please share in the comments below your favorite food-related idiom in any language, explaining what it means and why you like it.

You have until Tuesday, October 14 (midnight Paris time) to enter. I will then draw five entries randomly and announce the winners here. My editor at Perigee Books has agreed to ship the books to any mailing address in the world, so you’re welcome to play regardless of your location; please make sure you enter your email address correctly so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

We Got Winners!

The giveaway is now closed, and the following five readers will each receive a copy of Edible French:

  • Christiana, who wrote, “My favourite is stick a fork in me! as it reminds me of the 90’s film Pump Up The Volume and how I pined for Christian Slater with such abandonment and teenage angst!”
  • Lota, who wrote, “I have two: one in English: a bun in the oven meaning pregnancy and a Polish idiom wpuścić kogoś w maliny which is translated literally as to let someone in the raspberry bushes which means that you knowingly set someone up for difficulties, getting lost and confused, losing their way etc.”
  • Michelle, who wrote, “I love cherry on top – it always sounds so happy!”
  • c n, who wrote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! because when life gets rough, you got to get through it!”
  • Kara Johnson, who wrote, “As busy as popcorn in a skillet… I recently heard this for the first time and love the image of bouncing, popping corn it gives me. :)”

Congratulations to them, and thank you all for participating with such enthusiasm! I had a blast reading through this most colorful selection of expressions.

  • Posie

    Congratulations Clotilde! What a wonderful feeling to have all that work finally come to fruition! Can’t wait to read your new book, and learn some of these expressions. I’m currently studying French, albeit informally, and love food so I’m really looking forward to discovering Edible French!

  • Félicitations Clotilde! How wonderful! This book is going on my Christmas wishlist. J’aime bien “arriver comme un
    cheveu sur la soupe”, the French
    idiom which means to arrive at the most awkward moment. I like it because it can be useful, and I can actually remember it.

  • jane

    The book looks BEAUTIFUL! I can’t wait to read it. Well done!
    That’s the way the cookie crumbles meaning life is going to happen the way it happens.

  • KJB

    Congratulations. What a lovely — and whimsical — book.
    My favourite English-language food idiom is one that my Mother used: he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

  • greyarea


    My favorite food-related idiom is: “A watched pot never boils.” I use it far too often.

  • Anna

    Congratulations, Clotilde, to yet another achievement! I already pre-ordered the book, and looking forward to reading it. My favorite food-related proverb is “No sense in crying over the spilled milk” – don’t worry about something that happens, move on

  • Congratulazioni Clotilde! The book looks great and I can’t wait to read it. In Italian we have many food related idioms (not surprisingly). One sentence that I use often is “e’ buono come il pane”/he is good like bread and it means that a person is good and ready to help. I look forward to read your book.

  • The watercolours are absolutely stunning! Hmm, as to my favourite food idiom… It would probably have to be ‘veshat’ lapshu na ushi’, or ‘ne veshai menya lapshu na ushi!’, which literally means ‘Don’t hang noodles on my ears!’, and means ‘Don’t bullshit me.’ Growing up, I always tried to understand how that came to be, imagining jesters in the Czar’s court throwing boiled noodles around on people’s ears to fool them… I’m still not sure!

  • grace

    congratulations! my favorite idiom is: as slow as molasses in january – whenever someone is feeling lethargic.

  • Alix Martin

    Congratulations! Looks beautiful. I can’t wait to get a copy for my husband for Christmas… he speaks French, and is a line cook turned English teacher (loves food and language). My fave idiom is “piece of cake” — love it when something is sweet and easy.

  • Anouk

    “ik kan geen pap meer zeggen” which means you’ve really eaten too much and cannot utter any words anymore, that’s how full you are (literally: I cannot say porridge anymore)

  • Felix

    there are two german idioms i really like: “das gelbe vom ei” (the yellow part of the egg) which is used to describe something good and “der käse ist gegessen” (the cheese is eaten) which has roughly the same meaning as the english expression “that ship has sailed”.

  • Jasanna

    I like “That’s the whole enchilada”. Means “That’s the whole thing!” or a really good deal. :) Love the book!!

  • ClaveAzul

    “A buen hambre, no hay pan duro.” – Spanish “For a strong hunger, there is no hard/stale bread.”

  • Steph

    Congratulations for your new book, it looks beautifiul. My favourite idiom is “avoir les yeux plus grands que le ventre” (which means to help yourself more than you can eat) : probably because it’s the first I learned and I always imagine very big eyes when I hear it =)

  • Ferne Watt

    This looks like a very good read!

  • Sara Giraldi Marsala

    “Due ditti di vino, e una pedata al medico!” roughly translated means ‘two fingers of wine, and a kick to the doctor’……kind of like an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

  • Liz Goguen

    I don’t know if this is a common expression or just regional to southern France, but if my dad found a girl child adorable, he used to say ” elle est comme une sucrerie” (she’s as sweet as a sugar factory)
    and I loved that expression (although I adore idioms in general so no surprise)

  • CelticDiva1066

    I love that you made this book! I have a good friend who often makes me laugh with his strange expressions… one time he said something that actually made me choke on my coffee… “I’m so hungry, I could eat the leg off the lamb of God!”…….. Oh boy. ;-)

  • Nathalie Pilorget

    Congratulations, this looks like a great book! I’d love to win a copy of it. Well my favourite food related idiom is one that a colleague told me when I first arrived in the UK: “butter side up” – which means, be positive, if the tartine falls, it’ll be butter side up! :)

  • Barbara Jennings

    What a beautiful book! My idiom is “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” which relates to making decisions… But hopefully I can have your book and enjoy it too :)

  • Sushma P

    My favourite idiom is in HIndi,” aasman se gire kajoor me atke” it literally means fallen from sky stuck on a palm tree i.e. overcoming one hurdle and bumping into another.

  • Tiffani

    Bonjour! Such a beautiful book! My favorite would be: “two peas in a pod” (to be very close or intimate with someone) … Merci beaucoup!

  • Angélica García

    Here are a few I hear quite often in Spain: ¡Ostras! = Which is Oysters but means “Holy Moly!” and Tener Mala Leche which means to “have bad/spoiled milk” but means “in a bad mood”. Congrats on the book!!

  • Sara Davies

    I’m so happy to see these collected in a book – I have really enjoyed reading these over the years on your blog! I think my favorite has always been “être comme un coq en pâte” – to be like a rooster in pastry – contented & cozy – because, well, being wrapped in pastry sounds so cute!

  • KatieJO55240

    Looking forward to the new book. Congratulations! Here in the US I’ve heard that ” a way to a person’s heart is through the stomach. ” in other words.. good cooking is love!

  • Meredith Williams

    A piece of cake, easy as pie….I would love to read this tasty book :)

  • Cynthia Nelson Zulla

    I love “her voice is like butter” (pronounced butta) to describe a smooth singing voice. I think it came about from an old SNL skit, but it’s kinda stuck around when describing a beautiful, rich voice.

  • KatieJO55240

    another one I heard growing up is ” now you’re in the soup” means ” now you are in trouble”

  • Rifki Ali

    “seperti makan buah simalakama” (indonesian, lit. english : “like eating ‘simalakama’ fruit”)
    means one’s in a position that’s really bad and/or had to choose between two (or more) equally horrible choices.

    I like it because it’s rather funny, the fruit used in the idioms are actually benefiting for your health but had awful taste almost to the point of inedible. So really it isn’t really fitting for the supposed meaning of the idiom. Should be something along “doing awful thing for benefit later” rather than that.

  • Kelly Douglas


    My favorite idiom is “to take something with a grain of salt.” It means to listen to a bit of information, but to be cautious about it, especially considering from whom or where the information is coming. Always consider your sources!

  • My favorite is the Italian expression, “O ti mangi questa minestra o ti butti dalla finestra,” meaning, “Either eat this soup or jump out of the window,” which translates roughly to something like “Take it or leave it.”

  • trnchd

    Congrats on your new book!

    “Piece of cake,” an idiom that makes me laugh when someone says it and then everything goes wrong.

  • Kara Johnson

    “as busy as popcorn in a skillet…” I recently heard this for the first time and love the image of bouncing, popping corn it gives me. :)

  • Liselotte Roodbol

    Definitely, “tussen de soep en de patatten”. It means literally “between the soup and the french fries”. I didn’t know this expression until I moved to Belgium, one month ago. I was working at a theatre festival when someone told me that it would a busy night and that I had to eat “between the soup and the french fries”, or in other words: while I was working. I loved the expression, so eating between the soup and the french fries was no problem at all that night!

  • Loren

    There are so many good ones! I love “full of beans,” which means energetic or boisterous. Also “in a pickle” for in a mess. I could go on…

    Also, the book is gorgeous!

  • gregsomers

    thick as pea soup

  • Nicholas Mercury

    abbondanza It evokes memories of my aunt calling us to the table to partake of all the wonderful things she had prepared.

  • Erin

    I like Spilled The Beans!

  • danarsab

    couch potato. I never really understood where it came from but for some reason it makes me laugh.

  • Guest

    Congratulations!!! It’s so beautiful!!!

  • Jaclyn K

    Lovely!! My favorite idiom is “as slow as molasses in January”. It’s just so fun!

  • Cleoxymore

    To be “bon comme du bon pain…” So simple it’s borderline redundant, it has a nice syncopation to it and it says everything–bread is so basic, simple, but we know “du bon pain” means warmth, crunch and softness at the same time, not-too-rough but -not-too-smooth, simplicity and complexity, comfort without sweetness.

  • Liz

    Teaching one’s grandmother to suck eggs! meaning to try to teach someone older and wiser than you how to do something. Just the imagery makes me laugh and fascinated me as a child!

  • crabcakes

    My grandmother’s (and father’s) favorite is “to catch more flies with honey than vinegar”

  • wagonum

    I like “soup to nuts,” as an expression for beginning to end. I have no idea what the origin is, though. Maybe I’ll look that up.

    • Awfulknitter

      I hadn’t heard that before! I bet that relates to all the courses in a meal: from the soup at the start to

      the nuts, petit fours and other sweetmeats that would be served at the end.

  • Wouter

    Since you did ask for multilingual one, I will share my absolute favorite in Dutch, although this requires some explaining and in English it doesn’t sound so nice. Here goes; in Holland we have aniseeds covered in a hard sugar coating which we have on a special type of biscuit (beschuit) when there is a newborn baby. These aniseeds are called ‘mice’ due to their shape – the resemble tiny mice. (See http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beschuit_met_muisjes#mediaviewer/File:Beschuit_met_Muisjes.jpg ) There is also a powdered version – this ressembles powdered sugar which tastes like aniseed. It is called ‘squashed mice’. This too we eat on buttered biscuits (but for these no babies are required). So much for the background knowledge. The idiom is; “Kleine muisjes hebben kleine wensjes – beschuitjes met gestampte mensjes” – “Tiny mice have tiny wishes – biscuits with squashed people”, or in a version that does rhyme “What a mouse would like every now and then is a buttered biscuit with squashed men”.

    And I almost forgot to mention how great the book looks! Congratulations!

  • Congrats! It’s so beautiful! Here’s my favourite food idiom, have icing on the cake! It means getting a bonus for something already great (read: cake). There’s never enough cake!

  • Lillian

    Fruits of ones labor – means results of ones work. This is one that comes to mind every time I bake or cook because the food is always eaten more quickly than the time it takes to prepare everything, but I’m glad because me and those eating and enjoying my meals are enjoying “the fruits of my labor”. :)

  • Kim

    I love…apple of (someone`s) eye.
    Someone or something that a person likes a lot or likes more than others.
    “That little girl is the apple of her father’s eye.”

  • Sheryl

    My grandma used to say we kids were “busy as popcorn in a frypan” when we wouldn’t sit quietly.

  • Joanne

    “Too many cooks will spoil the broth.” A saying that perfectly captures the need for order and clarity of roles in the kitchen (though in the case of this contest, I think your readers are creating a rich vegetable soup of food related idioms!) I have already ordered the book, and plan to give many copies to friends. Felicitations!

  • I heard the phrase “over-egging the custard” recently to mean something similar to gilding the lily and I really enjoyed it.

  • Jenny

    I like the saying ‘like two peas in a pod’ to mean two people who get along very well, usually because they are very similar. I just like the image of two people or peas snuggled up all comfy in a pod.

  • Sam

    En avoir gros sur la patate !

  • Laura Lewakowski

    Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!

  • Cassandra

    Ever since my earliest French classes at school, I have always found “Ni chèvre, ni chou” (“Neither one thing nor another”) a bit bonkers! It conjures up a brilliantly Spike Milligan-esque image of goats and cabbages – an incongruous pairing, inexplicably ending up together in a charming gastronomic idiom! I also appreciate having been exposed to such elegant phraseology at a tender age – way too young to use such sophisticated language in my mother tongue, let alone in a new one. I am grateful to my French teacher for that. Meanwhile, congratulations – the book looks beautiful.

  • Luna

    Two peas in a pod. So snuggly :)

  • Leslie Mahoney

    Your book looks absolutely lovely!
    I’ve have always liked and used ” it’s not my cup of tea” to describe a situation I’m not fond of or to get out of.

  • Valleyboymom

    “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” which means you are “cooked” or in trouble no matter which way you go. Can’t wait to get your book!!!

  • Anchovy S

    A Dutch friend speaks very good idiomatic English, but sometimes he translates from English into Dutch and then back into English when he learns a phrase. When he is astonished by something, he says “Cakes have been taken!” instead of “That takes the cake!” Somehow it seems much more emphatic to me.

    • anne

      We don’t say “that takes the cake” we say ” that takes the biscuit ” for some bizarre reason :-)

  • jean

    Irish proverb ‘hunger is the best sauce:’ “Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras”

  • Jennie H

    I’m a southerner and love saying “slow as molasses.” The book looks beautiful!

  • Stephanie Doublait

    I like ‘too many cooks spoil the soup’. This is what my paternal grandmother would always say to get my mother out of the kitchen.

    I cannot wait to read your book. I hope it ‘sells like hotcakes’. Another favorite expression :)

  • Sue Tolleson-Rinehart

    “You’re just peachy.” The dictionary defines “peachy” as “of or relating to a peach” or “just fine, excellent, dandy.” The latter is an old metaphor but such a juicy one! I love to think of wonderful people having peachy qualities: they are approachable, full of goodness, sweet but with a bit of zing…Clotilde, you are tres peachy, vraiment! And Anchovy S, I loved your idiom! Thank you for a good smile — Cakes have been taken indeed!

  • Helene K

    Dont cry over spilled milk is my favorite

  • Awfulknitter

    Too many to choose from, surely? I love hearing about idioms in languages other than English. But in English, I like ‘in a pickle’ – to be in trouble.

  • Liz

    Congratulations! I like “he’s (or she’s) toast!” meaning that person is finished, but not in a good way as toast can be!

  • CCMeMe

    My favorite growing up in the American South was ‘happy as a mule eating briers’ to describe the ultimate in happiness. I never hear it now living on Cape Cod. Thanks for the reminder! Lovely book!

  • Janet

    “If life gives you lemons make lemonade” Great words to live by. I like to apply it in the kitchen on days when I don’t feel like doing groceries. I look through my cupboards full of “lemons” and create a great meal! I am a bit of a cook book junkie and I would LOVE to add this beautiful book to my collection.

  • Ellen Dwek

    The expression ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk’ is a great way of saying that you can’t do anything about what is already done but you can look positively to the future! Good luck with this new cook book.

  • silvie jean

    I like ‘food for thought’ because it invites consideration.

  • bcsj

    “There’s a bun in the oven”. I always liked that euphemism because “pregnant” isn’t a sweet sounding word and it makes me think of Cinnabon.

  • Amy | Salt and Honey

    “Piece of cake!”

  • Larraine Leslie Formica

    aver le fette di salame sugli occhi (literally salami over your eyes) rose colored glasses!

  • Too many wines spoil the cook!

  • Cammie D

    “Cool as a cucumber.” My mother and grandmother both used this expression and I never understood it. But now I love to grow lemon cucumbers, which have become my favorite snack when out grazing in my garden. They do have such a lovely, cool and calm taste, and now, when I bite into one, I savor that relaxed coolness, and think, “Ah, so THAT’S what they meant!” Makes me smile and remember my elders. Not to mention I now model myself after the coolness of lemon cucumbers. Hey, one could do worse!

  • Anamari LaPatatita

    My favorite in English is, “that’s the icing on the cake”, meaning, it’s the best part. I love your blog! Good luck with the book!

  • Isabel Clark

    I love food idioms! A current favorite is “in the soup” meaning being in trouble!

  • Kate

    My copy just arrived—it’s charming!

  • Renee

    “take it with a grain of salt” be cautious of where or who the information you’re hearing is coming from. Might be incorrect.

  • LJ

    you chop at the cutting board when you can’t hit the fish. My mom taught this one, I think it’s vietnamese, and it means to misplace your anger. You can’t lash out at the person you really want to, so instead you take it out on the person (or thing) that can take your blows (even if the person/it shouldn’t). cool, huh?

  • endrel

    Hi Clotilde,
    I wonder if the English version is available in bookstores in paris,I’m on holiday here these days….

  • Lisa

    My daughter is the “apple of my eye” – this is true! We’ll enjoy reading your book together and practicing our French. I love the companion website you’ve set up – genius.

  • nancy n

    My favorite from Julia Childs ” Life itself is the greatest binge”… meaning enjoying life to its fullest.

  • Michelle McMillen

    I use “the icing on the cake” a lot (meaning the added bonus that’s not necessary but oh, so good!).

  • Cécilia

    We use “Ein Haar in der Suppe finden” quite a lot in Germany, to find one hair in the soup. This means you always find out something bad or to complain about. And a special mention to “One apple a day keeps the doctor away”, I always found it very funny.

  • Rachel Firth

    I rather like the slightly demented chocologic of the Dutch: Daar kan ik
    geen chocola van maken: I can’t make chocolate from
    that, meaning, “When something is illogical, or so incoherent, incomprehensible
    or strange that the information is useless.”

  • S.Lauren

    I love “cherry on top” meaning the extra bit that makes the situation even greater like the cherry on top of a sundae. Like if it’s your birthday and you’re eating an amazing cake with your best friends and your favorite song comes on the radio, that song would be the cherry on top. I love it because the cherry on top of a sundae is the best part!

  • Lynn

    I love “amuse bouche”!

  • Susan Ericson

    Shut your pie hole…I say this lovingly, as I work for an online publication who’s food column is called, pie hole.

  • Lori Krasner

    To be the “apple of one’s eye”…always makes me think of my dear daddy who made me feel that I was his. I WOULD DEVOUR YOUR BOOK, Clothilde! Congratulations to you! Keep ’em coming!

  • Sarah

    I love “smart cookie” because it is such an endearing way to praise intelligence while conveying the sentiment of love. This compliment always elicits beaming smiles from children.

  • hudit

    “Now that’s a fine kettle of fish!” Used when something is all screwed up.

  • Julie

    I’ve always been partial to: “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, especially since my last name is Cook and it can apply to so many different kinds of situations!

  • Robert Adams

    That’s a pie crust promise — easily made, easily broken. (And yes, I love Ms. Poppins!)

  • Marcia Coakley

    “life is a bowl of cherries…”which brings to mind harvests from our garden and local farms. Also, elicits Mary Englebreit’s “Life Is Just A Chair of Bowlies.”

  • Judy Pechmann

    Don’t cry over spilled milk!

  • Trish

    A friend of mine uses the phrase “she thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips” to describe someone with a high opinion of herself. I’ve never heard anyone else say it and it always made me laugh.

  • Guest

    I like “tana kara botamochi” which means a stroke of good luck or an unexpected surprise.

  • Susan F

    You’re “cool as a cucumber” – used by mother and grandmother referring to body temperature when we as kids whined about not feeling well (hinting we may have a fever…to get out of going to school.)

  • Margee

    Congratulations on the new book, it looks lovely! My “Mima” / Spanish grandmother was from the Canary Islands, and had many wonderful expressions from her homeland. She always taught us to find something good in every situation, and to stay positive. One of the most funny and useful ones that our family lives by is “Cuando no te gusta algo, tu plato se llena de ella” which translates to ” When you don’t like something, your plate gets full of it”. So true, so true…

  • Annabel Smyth

    I like the American expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, although it’s probably not one I’d use in my own speech or writing. Congratulations on the new book.

  • Violettefemme

    I have always loved the term “au pif” as it brings a fun mental image and it’s how I have always been creative in the kitchen! I picture ingredients balanced right on the tip of my nose…too cute!

  • Neeltje

    I love the expression ‘with a cherry on top’. I am a visual thinker, and the expression gives such a happy, glistening, red cherry image.

  • Ruby Singhrao

    The English “it’s no picnic”. The picnic is such a food fantasy,
    countryside and tailored cloth with an array of people to share the experience
    with. I think of all the jam jars, and
    sandwiches, little condiments and canapés escaping out of an unassuming box
    like enchanted edibles. So the saying ‘it’s
    no picnic’ is a sobering reminder of a certain reality that comes with what is
    meant to be, and what the mind wishes it would be like.

  • Maira Fernandez

    My favourite Spanish expression is ‘es el chocolate del loro’ meaning ‘that’s peanuts’ (when comparing a small amount of money against a must bigger one in a negotiation)

  • Katherine Ivan

    My favorite is the French phrase “mon petit chou” which literally means “my little cabbage” but is used as a term of endearment. I learned this in a high school language class decades ago and later shared it with a friend who has addressed me as such ever since.

    • lorraine tilbury

      i think it’s referring to the French pastry “chou” which is in fact a “cream puff” – much sweeter than a cabbage, although it is indeed the same word!

  • Merrill Weber

    Go bananas! It means to go crazy! I love it because it serves as a reminder to never lose my childish enthusiasm.

  • Jen

    My favorite food-related idiom is “easy as pie”, which means that something is simple. Though, the funny thing about the expression is that, in my experience, making pie, especially pie crust, is not so easy. : )

  • I like this common American one, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Although I have literally cried over spilled milk more than once.

  • Carol

    Mine is life is a bowl of cherries. Nothing more delicious than a bowl of fresh cherries or life itself

  • Kelly Bateman

    I love “tomber dans les pommes”. Fortunately I have not had the opportunity to use this phrase (to fall in the apples = to faint) in my 18 years of travel to France for school, work and pleasure.

  • Rust

    Mine is “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

  • NotJoking

    I like “The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” due to the following. In America bakeries were (and still are) few and far between in rural areas and women used to do all the baking. My father remembered as a small boy listening to some old men sitting outside the local grocery store. Bread was now being sold in the shops for the first time. As a woman came out with a loaf of bread, one of the old men said to the others “Look at these lazy women buying bread. The next thing you know they’ll be slicing it for them”. This memory always makes me laugh and I hope it does some of you.

  • Bee

    A friend recently said “you’re a peach” to me. The phrase means something along the line of “thanks, you’re great” or “you’re sweet.” It’s a joke with us now because she said that to me when I gave her a peach. Ha! Congrats on the new book!

  • Susan Wiste

    My favorite English idiom is “I feel as if I am
    swimming through Jell-o” because that is the way I felt during certain segments of my life!! Thank goodness, those periods are over.

  • Fiona Conway

    To “bring home the bacon”, now used to describe earning a living, is an ancient term still in common usage.

  • c n

    “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” because when life gets rough, you got to get through it!

  • Emily Rogers

    C’est pas tes oignons ! It’s none of your business! (It’s not your onions).

  • disqus_qi8v2KEH4b

    I’ve always been fond of “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” meaning that you can’t get something for nothing

  • Michele Heintz

    The first one that popped into my eyes, yes, my eyes was: we are like two peas in a pod. It’s the perfect visual to express kindred spirits!

  • Susan Walther

    I’ve adopted Michael Pollan’s mantra: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” as my guiding thought. Works very well, since chocolate is a plant!

  • Sydney85

    My Mom would talk about getting out of the cold and going home to a house that was warm as toast.

  • Jennifer Gieber

    One of my favorites is “stick a fork in me, I’m done!” It refers to the fact that you can judge the doneness of potatoes by how easily they are to spear with a fork. It means to be done with some thing or to have had enough. I sometimes say it at the end of the work day when my brain just gives up. :)

  • Catherine Bateson

    ‘She’ll be apples’ – a good optimistic Australian term that always seems to me has a little of the French quality of insouciance. I much prefer it to the contemporary term,’It’s all good’ which seems to be invariably said when you know that it’s all not good at all and there will be tears before bedtime!

  • Emma @ Words And Peace

    what a wonderful gift and what a great idea for an entry. there are so many as you know in French… Maybe right now the one that comes to mind, and I don’t think it has been posted yet, is: “comme un cheveu sur la soupe” [literally, for your non-French readers = like a hair on the soup]. In English: out of the blue. Imagine for sure how unexpected it would be for a fine French cook to suddenly discover a hair in the soup!! lol. Emma ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  • urbanfoodlover

    “The proof is in the pudding” is my favorite – which means you will never find out what something is like until you have tried it :) Congrats on the book. You surely have a love for food and language and hence C&Z is so refreshing always …

  • Chris Lasko

    I Am a big fan of “the best thing since they decided to slice the bread before they put it in the bag.” It seems to show how fleeting “-“amazing” is nowadays

  • Elise Erickson

    How to choose?! “Tomber dans les pommes” is a fave since it evokes such a vivid image, but I think I like an expression I just taught to my French 2 students this week: “on ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre” and it’s English equivalent “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” even more because the English version delightfully makes no sense whatsoever (seriously, if you HAVE cake, you CAN eat it!) and the French version is so rational. :) my students liked it, too!

  • Solducky

    Worth your salt. I like it because it means you deserve what you get, because salt used to be so highly prized. Knowing the different types of salt as I do now, and how different varieties make such an impact in different dishes, I think it adds an extra layer of meaning.

  • Neill Hines

    That would be, “bringing home the bacon.”

  • Frances

    Congratulations on your book being released. In New Zealand I think we use a lot of the same food-related idiom as the UK and USA. One New Zealand only expression is to say that something has “sucked the kumara” which means that it is broken or not very good. Kumaras are a type of sweet potato.

  • Delene Sowers Volkert

    It’s like taking candy from a baby. Meaning it’s so easy, anyone could do it.

  • Laura Cunningham

    The icing on the cake or, the extra benefit

  • tracyturner

    Congrats on the latest book ! My favo(u)rite Britishism is “to over-egg the pudding,” meaning to make something look more impressive than it actually is — or, to spoil something by trying too hard to improve it. Looks like with *Edible French,* you haven’t over-egged the pudding * )

  • Michelle

    I love cherry on top – it always sounds so happy!

  • Gourmet Girl

    You only have to look at the number of food-related expressions in any language in India to know how food-obsessed we Indians are. My favourite, however, is the Hindi expression, ‘Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad’, which translates to, ”The monkey doesn’t appreciate the taste of ginger”. This generally means that it takes a certain kind of person to appreciate something. It is also often said to get back at one’s critics.

  • Gourmet Girl

    Here are some more if that’s your cup of tea (ha ha, see what I did there?):


  • Samara

    I’ve always thought that “couch potato” was a cute food-related idiom, used in reference to a person who is lazy and spends a lot of time sitting on the couch (presumably watching tv). I also recently learned the Italian idiom “essere come il prezzemolo” (literally, to be like parsley), which is used to refer to a person or thing that is present everywhere (just as parsley is in Italian recipes). The expression can similarly be used to indicate a person that constantly interjects him/herself, even when his or her input is not being sought.

  • Mandy Ward

    I like “Honey Bun” as a term of endearment because you can use it to describe someone as a sweetheart and it sounds fantastic as you say it (rolls off the lips!). It does make me hungry though…. ;-)

  • Jan Williams

    When the children were in French preschool, their favorite expression was ‘Ferme ta boite a camembert’ that is ‘Close your camembert box’ meaning ‘shut up’. On the English side, there is ‘cheesy’ which wouldn’t work in France because the cheese is so good here.

  • Jan Williams

    When our children were in French preschool a favorite expression was, ‘ferme ta boite de camembert’ or ‘close your camembert box’ meaning ‘shut up’. On the English side, there is ‘cheesy’ which would never work in French as an insult because the cheese is so good here.

  • Ellie@ homemade hearts

    My favourite food idiom is “être serré comme des sardines” which somewhat translates into being tight together like sardines. Your book looks so lovely!

  • Jacq

    keen as mustard – sharp, eager and raring to go (hot stuff)

  • that is wonderfull book, but i think i have to study hard for language, because it very important to increase my comunication specially French.

    Dr. OZ Help your skin from acne

  • Maya B

    Congrats on the book! It looks lovely :-) My favorite is “pretty please, with sugar on top”, it’s such a cute way to ask for a favor without being too pushy.

  • Jessica CHEEK

    Congrats on the book! Last weekend my French grandmother-in-law came out with the term “grosse legume,” meaning “big shot,” when referring to Sarkozy. Apparently it’s not that common, and doesn’t make that much sense because “legume” definitely isn’t feminine…but I found it hilarious!

  • christiana

    My favourite is “stick a fork in me!” as it reminds me of the 90’s film Pump Up The Volume and how I pined for Christian Slater with such abandonment and teenage angst!

  • christiana

    Love the illustrations by the way Clotilde. Congrats on your new book!

  • Pollyanna Sutton

    I have always loved the Italian saying – tira mi su spinge mi ju ( pick me up and push me down) and – the roman saying bread and circuses which insinuates gathering public approval through the distraction of – giving people bread and entertainment.

  • Megan

    I like food related terms of endearment…honey, sugar, pumpkin.

  • Jill Bergeron

    It’s funny that people say, “easy as pie” because for many people making a pie is not easy! I wonder if it was ever easy.

  • Rammy Meyerowitz

    I really had to “use my noodle” to think of an idiom that was especially “my cup of tea”, I came up with a least “a baker’s dozen” of contenders, but ultimately there was only one that was “the cream of the crop”. Though I haven’t had much opportunity to use it, my favorite would have to be the Russian idiom “You can’t ruin kasha with too much butter”, meaning you can’t have too much of a good thing. But “why” it’s my favorite is a long story for another time (so we’ll “put it on the back burner”).

  • In Argentina I learned that your “media naranja” (literally your “half orange”) is your better half. Appropriate, as that’s where I met my fiancé!

  • Adele Miller

    There was an old Yiddish expression my mother and aunts used to say once in a while,”vi
    arbes tsum vant”, which literally means “like chickpeas to the wall” and which used to crack me up. The figurative translation is “that doesn’t make any sense”, or “that argument doesn’t hold water”.

  • Ha3rvey

    My favorite is one of my mother’s expressions, “Feed them with a long-handled spoon”. It means to take care of someone or to love them, despite whatever problem you have with them or their behavior.

  • Maxine

    there seem to be rather a lot of food idioms that describe somebody who may not be all that bright … “half-baked”, “as much use as a chocolate teapot” and “a sandwich short of a picnic” are all expressions that I grew up with

  • perosh

    My favorite would be “zucker kommt zuletzt” which I think means something like “sweet [thing] will come at end”

  • lorraine tilbury

    Love the tender French expression “mon chou” – “my cream puff” but the same word means ‘cabbage’! so it could be “my cabbage” and that’s not nearly as romantic…

  • Willamette

    From a fairy tale: I love you like the salt upon my food.

  • Victoria

    My favorite expression is “cool as a cucumber” meaning one who is very savvy and cool. Having it all together.

    I can’t wait to see your new book , it looks delightful.

  • jonquil alexia

    My favorite is ‘About as useful as a chocolate teapot’. Comparing an object with a teapot that can’t hold water, what it is meant to do. Visualizing all that melting chocolate…..

  • “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!” meaning you can’t have things both ways (or more simply: you can’t always get everything you want). Plus, who doesn’t love cake!

  • Tania Hurter

    I like ‘tomber dans les pommes’ in French. A lovely colorful expression for fainting…Congratulations on the release of your book.

  • Noa

    In Hebrew and Arabic there’s a nice phrase that goes “Yom asal, Yom Basal”, which literally means “a day honey, a day onion” and it’s a reminder that in life you have days happy days when you’re up and sad days when you’re down.

  • Mika Lai

    One of my favorite food sayings in Cantonese translates to “a lump of rice,” which refers to someone lazy or inactive, particularly a lack of a reaction to any situation. It tends to be used in the context of, “Don’t just sit there like a lump of rice!”

  • I enjoy the phrase, “butter my butt and call me a biscuit” because it is just so outrageous!

  • Anna Brune

    I love the historic symbol of “having been served czarna polewka (duck blood soup, translated from Polish)”. It was served by the parents of the young woman to the man whose proposal was being turned down. The idiom means romantic rejection.

  • ioana

    ,,Esti important ca sarea in bucate” in romanian means that something is important as salt in the food.

  • Angelica Rogers

    Just discovered your beautiful book…one of my favorites was as a young girl the guys would say “can I have some fries with that shake?” meaning “I like the way you walk and the way you look” it always made me hungry!!

  • HS

    I like “full of beans”, it means energetic, in high spirits. A very vivid phrase and always makes me think of freshly green garden.

  • Guest

    I happen to like “it’s a tough nut to crack.” I’m terrible at shelling nuts – I either can’t get them open, or when I do, I manage to mangle the nutmeats. So this expression totally resonates with me.

  • Lauren E

    I happen to like “it’s a tough nut to crack.” I’m terrible at shelling nuts – I either can’t get them open, or when I do, I manage to mangle the nutmeats. So this expression totally resonates with me!

  • Nisha Jayaram

    I was always told “if needed the jackfruit can grow on the roots”. It means that if you put your mind to it you can do anything!

  • Borgny Brørvik

    “Bare blåbær”
    A Norwegian expression, translated; “just blueberries”, meaning something small, simple or not important.

  • I think my favourite has to be ” not my cup of tea “, because I don’t like tea and it’s a constant source of amusement to all my French friends, as I am an Englishwoman living in France.

  • Tiffany Knoell

    A phrase I’ve recently encountered is “potatoes and point.” It refers to poverty and being too poor to even afford salt. Rather than having potatoes with salt – something that might make them a little more palatable – the best that some families could do was to point their potatoes at the (empty) salt cellar. Now to subsist on “potatoes and point” indicates that one is of very little means.

  • Michelle Springer

    My favorite is “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It just reminds me, when something bad happens, to pick myself up try again.

  • Lisa R-R

    I recently came across “Fine words butter no parsnips” – meaning fine words don’t get the job done. Thanks for the contest!

  • Kos A Va

    I like “c’est la fin des haricots” as it was the first food related idiom I learned in French.

  • Nari

    My favorite is “You’ve got egg on your face.” I heard it for the first time a couple of years ago when my husband said it. I kept checking my face for egg, even though we hadn’t eaten any that day. It threw me for a loop before I figured out that it actually meant being caught in a lie, or making an error.

  • wabi

    My favorite is “c’est du gâteau” vs “ce n’est pas de la tarte” meaning it’s easy / it’s difficult
    Congratulations on your new book !

  • Shivangni

    Congratulations on your book.
    In punjabi a flirtatious expression for pretty village belles goes, “makkhan de pedeo, Malaai de duneo, mishri di dali” meaning, you are like a blob of soft butter, a bowl of fresh cream & crystal of sweet sugar! Shows how much they love their food.
    I do hope that I get to be one of the winners! Fingers crossed,
    I got to learn some good idioms from other contestants below, it’s fun

  • Cait J

    I like “to butter (someone) up” – as in, “What are you buttering me up for?” meaning to flatter someone in order to get what you want. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s replies!!

  • Marta dcp

    waouh, so many comments already…! one that I find amusing, in spanish: “estar hasta en la sopa” – “to be even in the soup” – is said of someone ‘overly present’, as in a celebrity appearing in every other show… love the look of the book! :)

  • Bakeawaywithme.com

    One that I use all the time is “not my cup of tea”…meaning, not to your liking.

  • Nathalie d’Abbadie

    My favourite is “as warm as toast”, because it makes me imagine a very comfortable atmosphere, with a mug of tea, buttered toast, a soft blanket and a good book involved. I would translate it as “chaud comme un pain au chocolat” because toast and pains au chocolat are both staples that everyone loves!

  • Christy Spurlock

    Stick a fork in me cause I’m done!

  • Yasmine

    “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” is an idiom that I always found both interesting and repelling. It means that there are multiple ways to complete a task. I first heard this one from a past math teacher, who was doing a problem on the board. The whole class, including me, was a bit horrified by the expression!

  • Christina

    I heard the expression, “I’m a Snickers bar away from turning 30!” It works with any food really :)

  • it would be “as hungry as a horse” or “lapar bagaikan kuda” in Indonesian. I like it because it represents me well: my Chinese zodiac is horse and yes, I have big appetite like a horse!

  • Emily

    I like the idea of a nation being referred to as a “tossed salad”, meaning each element retains its characteristics, yet the overall combination is wonderful.

  • S. Bird

    I like the phrase “butter wouldn’t melt in (his or her) mouth” to describe someone who falsely seems innocent. I’ve always pictured the person being calm and “cool as a cucumber” to keep that butter from melting. I just think it’s a funny image.

  • Crystal Conway

    “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” meaning, that just how things are.

  • Heidi

    This book is exactly my cup of tea. Gorgeous! I like a lot “the way the cookie crumbles” and in French “c’est de la tarte” meaning easy as pie.

  • Amanda Kuhnel Madigan

    My toddler thinks it’s hilarious when I tell him he’s full of beans.

  • Laura Dias de Almeida

    “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”, aka “c’est la vie, my dearie!”

  • georgie

    In German, there is the phrase “freshly baked mum” (frisch gebackene mama), meaning you are a brand new mum. I just think it’s a cute phrase, particularly because I just had a baby here in Germany and kind of do feel like I was baked for 9 months ;-)

    PS. Love your blog!

  • Jessica Volz

    Congrats on the new book, Clotilde!!!! You make even the most daunting of recipes look ‘as easy as pie,’ as the English-speaking world would say! :) I would LOVE to win a copy! :)

  • Rachel Eakin Mayer

    The English phrase ‘In a pickle’ (meaning, trapped in a difficult situation). Another spin on the phrase is ‘In a jam’.. perhaps because either idiom expresses the aspect of being stuck.

  • rachelsloan79

    One of my favourites is the German ‘Rosinen im Kopf haben’ which means to have big ideas (literally, to have raisins in one’s head). It’s such a strange image it just makes me smile!

  • Rebecca Mattea Chadwick-Shubat

    The book looks wonderful Clotilde! My favourite food related idiom in Dutch (my mother tongue) is “hij heeft een appeltje met hem te schillen” literal translation is “he has an apple to peel with him.” It’s the equivalent of “I have a bone to pick with you” (i.e. bringing a complaint against someone)

  • Yoojin Lee

    in korean, when someone is super cheesy and makes you get “chicken skin,” we say that they are “느끼해,” which usually describes super oily & greasy bland foods that make you feel gross! it’s difficult to explain, but it’s one of my favorite idioms :)

  • Emily Schneider

    I’m so glad your new book is out! Please enter me in the contest.

    • I’d be happy to, Emily, you simply have to submit your favorite food-related idiom (in any language) to be considered!

      • Emily Schneider

        Oops! It’s probably “mon petit chou” in French. I loved it ever since learning it in junior-high French classes. But I also use “have your cake and eat it too.”

  • Katerina Akarepi

    The Greek expression “περι ορεξεως κολοκυθοπιτα” – its literal translation is “In regard to craving, zucchini pie” and it conveys the message that “There is no accounting for taste”.

  • Emily Lo Gibson

    My mom has called me a “rice trashcan” in Chinese, whose meaning is pretty obvious in reflecting my incessant devouring of rice at every meal while growing up. I wish similar phrases in English were nicer than “bottomless pit”!

  • Kat Kat

    Like two peas in a pod – similar to the French expression “comme deux gouttes d’eau” that can be used to compare two people. Just so cute!

  • reneeg

    One of my favorites is “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree” — meaning that children often follow into the same habits (good and bad) as their parents.

  • Katie Skeoch

    Chewing the fat, which is a great one meaning to have a gossip or just generally talk enjoyable rubbish for a while

  • emily__lynn

    I’m not sure if this is common, or just my grandpa, but he’d always tell us we were “being a bunch of turkeys” if we were goofing off when we were little!

  • Bruno

    In Quebec, we use “La cerise sur le sunday” instead of the French “La cerise sur le gateau” (The cherry on the cake or The icing on the cake).

  • Lota

    I have two: one in English: “a bun in the oven” meaning pregnancy and a Polish idiom “wpuścić kogoś w maliny” which is translated literally as “to let someone in the raspberry bushes” which means that you knowingly set someone up for difficulties, getting lost and confused, losing their way etc.

  • cezovski

    I’ve always liked “as nutty as a fruitcake” — it applies to a lot of people I know and fruitcake is kind of nutty, too!

  • Chelsea Buchholtz

    This looks so fun! I would love one for myself and my mother in law who loves all-things-france. I don’t think it is an idiom per se, but I love the French term “amuse bouche” — meaning to amuse the mouth. it is a fun term to say and is a great way of offering a little bite of something before the actual meal.

  • Veronica T

    French expression “la crème de la crème”! It means the very best of something…I like it because when I hear it I get a flash-back of when I was spending my holidays at my grandparents house, and on some days, I found a fresh pot of just whipped fresh cream on the top of my grandma’s kitchen table to eat together with cookies for breakfast.That fresh cream whipped by hand with a fork sometimes wasn’t “perfect”, so it had a first thick layer, and below was the more liquid cream, so the top part was the “cream of the cream” to me :-)

  • Claire Davies

    I love You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Success does always mean losses on the way.

  • Samantha Alphonso

    An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
    it means that it is very important to eat fruits in our daily life as it is required for the functioning of a healthy lifestyle and away from health problems.

  • Rebecca

    You’re the apple of my eye! I always said that to my kids.

  • Gregoire

    My favorite is “plein comme un oeuf” which means completely full. The English version would be “filled to the brim”, I suppose.

  • Sarah

    my favorite expression is “c’est pas de la tarte ! “, which means it’s not easy. And I like it simply because I LOVE tarts, of any kind.
    Thanks for this contest

  • Minnesota Maria

    I’ve always liked “you are the apple of my eye”. No idea where the phrase comes from.

  • I love the colorful expression in French “bourré comme un coing” or “drunk as a quince.” It’s one of many French equivalents of “drunk as a skunk”!

  • Angela

    Here is Russian idiom “Khorosha lozhka k obedu”, english translation is ” The spoon is good for the dinner”. This means that spoon is just in place at the dinner table but not at some other place and time. Like, everything has its place and its time. Why specifically spoon? It is because this idiom is very old, so old that at those days the usual “silverware” at the table were just wooden spoon and a pot of soup or kasha :)

    I hope I still be entering :)

  • Tiffany

    “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get!” This is great because it is so true, and also, who doesn’t love Forest Gump?

  • Aman Johal

    ‘Put all your eggs in one basket’ meaning to rely solely on one option. I heard my boyfriend use the same expression in French and I was pleasantly surprised that the expression still worked in a different language!

  • misswindycity

    “chalk & cheese” to mean very different things or people.

  • Thank you so much to all of you for participating! The giveaway is now closed and comments posted later than Tuesday, October 14, midnight Paris time can’t be considered. I will announce the winners shortly in the post above.

  • urbanfoodlover

    Another version of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is ” when life gives you lemons, ask for tequila and salt :) “

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