7 French Food Idioms - French Expressions and Phrases Food Related

Avoir un coeur d'artichaut - French Food Idioms
Jessica Gottlieb / Getty Images

Food is a very important subject in France. We always discuss food, especially when we are eating!

The French also commonly use some hilarious food-based idioms which would be quite difficult to guess if you didn't know them. 

"Avoir un Coeur d'Artichaut"

To Have an Artichoke Heart = To be Very Sensitive

This means to be very sensitive. To cry easily. Maybe because when cooked, the artichoke heart becomes soft, although the artichoke itself has pricks. So the heart is well hidden under prickly leaves, just like someone hiding his sensitive side.

This idiom goes well with another one: "être un dur à cuir" - to be hard to cook = to be a tough guy.

  • Pierre a l'air d'être un dur à cuir, mais en fait, il a un vrai coeur d'artichaut.
    Pierre looks like a tough guy, but in reality he is really sensitive.

"Raconter des Salades"

To Tell Salads = To tell long tales, lies

  • Arrête de dire n'importe quoi : je sais bien que tu racontes des salades !
    Stop speaking nonsense: I know you are lying!

"Ramener sa Fraise"

To Bring Back Your Strawberry = To Impose When Not Wanted

"La fraise" - strawberry is a long time synonym for face. So "ramener sa fraise" means to show up, to impose yourself when not expected / invited.

  • Regarde ! Voilà Jean ! Celui-là, il ramène toujours sa fraise au moment du dîner. Comme c'est bizarre.
    Look! Here comes Jean! This guy, he always shows up at dinner time. How Strange...

​Avoir La frite/la pêche/la banane/la patate

To have the French-fry / the peach / the banana / the potato = To Feel Great

We have many idioms to say to feel great. These four words are interchangeable and very commonly used in French.

  • Je ne sais pas comment tu fais pour avoir la pêche le matin. Moi, je suis toujours creuvée.
    I don't know how to do to be full of energy in the morning. Myself, I'm always exhausted.

En Faire Tout un Fromage

To Make a Whole Cheese Out of It. = To Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill

  • Ça suffit ! Je me suis déjà excusée : arrête d'en faire tout un fromage!
    Enough! I already said I was sorry: stop making a mountain out of a molehill!

Les Carottes sont Cuites = C'est la fin des Haricots

The carrots are cooked/it's the end of the beans. = There is no More hope.

This must be one of the most obscure French idioms. Even so that it is said that "les carottes sont cuites" was used as a code during the war. In any case, both these idioms may be explained by the fact that the food they refer to "carrots" and "beans" are cheap, and are the last resort food. If there is none left, it's starvation. That's why they are linked to lost hope.

  • C'est fini, la France a perdu. Les carottes sont cuites.
    It's the end, France lost. There is no more hope.

Mêle-toi de Tes Oignons!

Mix with Your Own Onions = Mind Your Own Business

Apparently, “les oignons” is a familiar term for “les fesses” (buttocks) due to their round shape. The expression “occupe-toi de tes fesses” being a bit vulgar, but very used as well. We also say "mêle-toi / occupe-toi de tes affaires" which is an exact translation of "mind your own business".

  • Alors, c’est vrai ce que j’ai entendu ? Tu sors avec Béatrice maintenant ?
    Is it true what I’ve heard? You’re going out with Beatrice now?
  • Mêle-toi de tes oignons ! Mind your own business!
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "7 French Food Idioms - French Expressions and Phrases Food Related." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/french-food-idioms-french-expressions-phrases-4030587. Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2020, August 26). 7 French Food Idioms - French Expressions and Phrases Food Related. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-food-idioms-french-expressions-phrases-4030587 Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "7 French Food Idioms - French Expressions and Phrases Food Related." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-food-idioms-french-expressions-phrases-4030587 (accessed March 28, 2023).