Spanish Phrases That Refer to Foods

Most Have To Be Translated Figuratively

Tacos
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Just because a Spanish phrase includes a word for a type of food doesn't mean it has anything to do with food — just as the phrase "eye candy" isn't meant to satisfy a sweet tooth. Below are more than a dozen examples of such phrases and idioms. Note that many of the translations aren't literal but are colloquial, as are most of the Spanish phrases.

Chocolate (Chocolate)

In English, you may give a foe a taste of her own medicine, but in Spanish you can give her soup made from her own chocolate, sopa de su propio chocolate. There is also a Spanish equivalent of the medicine metaphor, una cuchara de su propia medicina, a spoon of her own medicine.

Los Mets le dieron a los Cachorros sopa de su propio chocolate al barrerles la serie de cuatro juegos. (The Mets gave the Cachorros a taste of their own medicine by sweeping the series in four games.)

Harina (Flour)

Ser harina de otro costal, to be the wheat from a different bag, means to be something unrelated to what is being discussed. La carrera de Cameron hoy está en riesgo, pero eso es harina de otro costal. (Cameron's career is at risk today, but that's another matter entirely.)

Jugo (Juice)

To remove the juice from someone, sacar el jugo a alguien, or remove the juice from something, sacar el jugo a algo, is to get the greatest benefit from a person, thing, or activity. El entrenador le saca el jugo a los jugadores. (The coach gets the most out of his players.)

Lechuga (Lettuce)

Someone who is fresco como una lechuga (fresh as a head of lettuce) is someone who is healthy, alert and in control of him- or herself.

Possible similar phrases in English include "cool as a cucumber" and "fresh as a daisy." Estaba fresca como una lechuga, sonriente y dispuesta a hablar con quien se le acercara. (She was all ready to go, smiling and inclined to speak with anyone who approached her.)

Manzana (Apple)

A bone of contention, something that becomes the focus of a dispute, is a manzana de (la) discordia, an apple of discord.

The phrase comes from the Golden Apple of Discord in Greek mythology. Siria es la manzana de la discordia en las negociaciones de paz. (Syria is the sticking point in the peace negotiations.)

Pan (Bread)

We think of someone in prison as living on bread and water, a pan y agua. In Spanish, the phrase often refers to a strict diet, and sometimes to other types of hardships or deprivations. Si llevas un tiempo a pan y agua, intenta no pensar en ello y busca tu placer de otro modo. (If you spend some time deprived, try not to think about it and seek your pleasure in some other way.)

Que con su pan se lo coma (roughly, let him eat it with his bread) is one way of expressing indifference to someone's plight. "I don't care," is a possible translation, although context can suggest many others. Hay muchos hoteles que no se permite la entrada con niños. Quien elige un hotel para familias, que con su pan se lo coma. (There are many hotels that don't allow children. I don't have any sympathy for someone who picks a family-oriented hotel.)

Ser pan comido (to be eaten bread) is to be extremely easy. Similar food phrases in English are "to be a piece of cake" or "to be as easy as pie." Con nuestro software, recuperar un servidor de correo electónico es pan comido.

(With our software, restoring an email server is a piece of cake.)

Someone born with a silver spoon in her mouth can be said to nacer con un pan bajo el brazo, born with a loaf of bread under her arm. El presidente no entiende la gente. Fue nacido con un pan bajo el brazo. (The president doesn't understand the people. He was born born with a silver spoon in his mouth.)

Pera (Pear)

A candied pear, pera en dulce, is a thing or person that is widely seen as desirable. Mis padres terminaron de convertir su casa antigua en una pera en dulce. (My parents finished converting their old house into a gem.)

If something is old, it is del año de la pera, from the year of the pear. No son compatibles con esta técnología, que es del año de la pera. (They aren't compatible with this technology, which is as old as the hills.)

Taco (Taco)

Taco de ojo, meaning "eye taco," is used primarily in Mexico and has a meaning similar to "eye candy," especially when it refers to someone with sex appeal. As in the following sentence, it is often combined with the verb echar, which by itself usually means "throw." Estas películas de Netflix están buenísimas para echarte un taco de ojo con los actores que salen. (These Netflix movies are excellent for tossing you eye candy with the actors who perform.)

Trigo (Wheat)

No ser trigo limpio, to not be clean wheat, is said of a person who is dishonest, creepy, shady, unreliable, or otherwise suspicious. The same phrase is used less frequently for things that seem suspicious or fishy. Recibí un SMS de mi hermano: "Cuidado con esa chica, no es trigo limpio." (I received a text message from my brother: "Be careful with that girl. She's bad news.")

Uva (Grape)

To have a bad grape, tener mala uva, is to be in a bad mood. The same can be said of someone with bad intentions. Tener mala leche (to have bad milk) can be used in the same way. La que tenía mala uva era Patricia. (The one in a bad mood was Patricia.)