Idioms are probably one of the funniest things about language. Like, what even are they? Who thought of these comedic phrases that inspire us to get silly? We’re into breaking down idioms and reflecting on how dumb everything sounds when you give it a little thought. Here are some of the best international food idioms, deconstructed, for your pleasure.
Thailand. Worms in your salt. (‘Glua pen norn”)
As if literally having worms in your salt isn’t bad enough, in Thailand it also means that a close friend or family member is betraying you. By sharing your secrets with your enemy. How’s that for specific.
South Korea. A picture of a rice cake (“Geulim-ui tteog”)
What’s worse than not having a rice cake in South Korea? Having a picture of it! Basically meaning, you desire something so much but you can’t have it. Yup – we can relate to that when it comes to food.
Vietnam. Selling melon. (Buôn dưa lê)
In Vietnam, you might want to be careful when asking people if they sell melon because to “sell melon” also means “to gossip”. Anyone got some juicy melon for us?
HK/China/Taiwan. Fried squid (‘Chao you yu’)
Heads up for anyone working in HK, China or Taiwan: you really don’t want your boss to sit you down and call you a fried squid. Basically, it’s the equivalent of being fired. Why squid? Yeah, we’d like to know too.
HK/ China/ Taiwan. Eat tofu (‘Chi tofu’)
Sorry tofu lovers, but it’s about to get quite cringey up in here. Apparently in HK, China and Taiwan, to “eat tofu” means to take advantage of something, in particular women. Because y’know, all women are white, soft and gentle. Yuck.
Japan. Dumplings over flowers (“Hana yori Dango”)
This Japanese phrase means to choose quality over quantity when making a decision. We like it because it’s cute and true. It ain’t all about the looks, people. We’d pick a bowl of warm, meaty dumplings over flowers any day.
Singapore/Malaysia. Eat snake (‘Jiak zhua’)
If you’re eating snake in Singapore or Malaysia, it means you’re slacking off. This is because snakes are a symbol of laziness in these countries. We’ll take it as an idiom, and nothing else. Please don’t eat a snake.
Malaysia/Singapore. Green vegetables (‘Cin cai’)
You know when you’re hungover, making a stir fry, and you just throw in whatever vegetables are left in your fridge? Yep – the origins of this phrase which translates to “whatever”.