Word Project 4: Food Idioms

Pre Paragraph- I had a really hard time coming up with a topic for the fourth word project. At first I thought of doing a game but couldn’t figure out any way that would work with my overall theme so I tossed the idea into the trash and moved on. As for my goals I want something that seems a little fun and something to intrigue my readers. Which has been the same for all my projects and articles. I want to just focus on the writing because I have no idea what to do for the visual rhetoric but I  know I will get there. Let’s begin.

Food Idioms

Even when we are not talking about food, it seems we cannot keep food out of our conversations.  Many expressions and phrases seem to employ some sort of food imagery.  Some foods appear in a wide variety of usages.  Eggs, for example.  You can be a “good egg,” while the guy across the way is a notorious “bad egg.”  And who among us has not had “egg on our face” at one time or another?  Others are known for just one expression, like mustard (something or someone does or does not cut the mustard).  Of course, if one is “as cool as a cucumber,” one is unlikely to find oneself “in a pickle.”

Some expressions go back centuries, surprisingly so to a lot of people.  “Like two peas in a pod,” for instance, which dates back the late 16th century.  John Lyly used the phrase in Euphues and his England, in 1580:  “Wherin I am not unlike unto the unskilfull Painter, who having drawen the Twinnes of Hippocrates, (who wer as lyke as one pease is to another).”  Shakespeare coined a phrase used above:  “In a pickle” (The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1).  Shakespeare also gave us “salad days” (Anthony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 5).

“Cheesecake photography” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary (among others), and dates back to 1915, when James Kane, of The New York Journal looked at a photo taken of a Russian opera singer, who had hiked up her skirt a bit at the behest of a photographer, and exclaimed, “Why, this is better than cheesecake!”  True story?  Yes, and while his comment most likely gave us our modern usage, there is a much earlier reference, dating to 1662’s Poems and Sons Relating to the Late Times:  “But ah! It goes against our hearts, to lose our cheesecake and our tarts.”  “Beefcake” came later, in 1949, to be exact, when an Ohio newspaper, The Chronicle Telegram, reported on a growing trend in movies – shirtless, well-muscled men, which studio heads discovered were extremely pleasing to women.  As more and more shirts came off, movie cameramen started using the term “beefcake”.

Oh, yes, food figures into a lot phrases used to describe people.  “She is a real hot tamale.”  “A cute little tomato.”  “He’s a tall drink of water,” meaning a tall, good-looking man, witty and refreshing.  Food-themed phrases and descriptions are easily understandable and allow us to draw instant images in our minds.  Describe someone as a “string bean” or a “beanpole” and we know exactly what it means.

Food figures prominently in expressions other than describing people and their looks.  Joe “brings home the bacon.”  That allows Mary to stay home with the kids, which makes her the “bread and butter” of the family.  Unfortunately, they “got into the soup” when Joe got laid-off, but were able to “pull that potato out of the fire” when he got a new, better job.  He now works for a company which makes a “smorgasbord” of products for the home.  His last “soup to nuts” presentation resulted in a commission so large, Mary was able to go out and buy a real “peach” of a new car.

Food describes our weather (“fog as thick as pea soup”), our emotions (“happy as a clam,” “sour as a lemon”), and life in general (“a bowl of cherries”).  It lends itself to funny little exclamations (“Butter me for a biscuit!”), and dire warnings, (“I’m going to beat you until you bleed buttermilk!” or “I’ll make mincemeat out of you!”).  It covers politics (“banana republic,” “He made toast of his opponent”).  Adoration (“apple of one’s eye”).  Yes, food covers it all (otherwise known as “the whole enchilada”).  It describes how much something is worth (“all the tea in China”) or how little (“not worth a hill of beans”) and how easy it is to accomplish something (“like stealing candy from a baby”).  Food is an endearment (“Honey” and “sugar pie”), and a request for affection (“Give me a little sugar”).  Sometimes it is a polite rejection (“not my cup of tea”), or a negative review (“that movie is a real turkey”). And sometimes it is used to sting:  “She’s a tart.” “He has noodles for brains”).

Food phrases and idioms abound in all languages, but some of my favorites are French:

“Je pourrais manger un curé frotté d’ail” literally, “I could eat a parish priest rubbed with garlic.”  English equivalent:” I could eat a horse”. “Faire des yeux de merlans frits” literally “make fried marlin eyes.”  English equivalent:  “Make goo-goo eyes”. “Ça met du beurre dans les épinards”,  literally “That puts the butter into the spinach.”  English equivalent:  “The icing on the cake.”

Food-based expressions are both comfortable and comforting.  They conjure images easily and commonly.  They give color to our languages and have long set our literary tables.  They can be funny, quirky, and sometimes mean, but they are always understandable, and in many cases universal.

Wp4 Food idioms


The Modern Trobadors. (2010, October 3). It’s all about food: French food idioms inspired by food. Moderntroubadors.blogspot.com. Retrieved November 15, 2013 from, http://moderntroubadours.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-all-about-food-french-idioms.html

The Phrase Finder. (n.d.). 135 phrases coined by William Shakespeare. Phrases.org.uk. Retrieved November 16, 2013 from, http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/phrases-sayings-shakespeare.html

Cellania. (2013, March 21). The origins of the terms cheesecake and beefcake. Neatorama.com. Retrieved November 17, 2013 from, http://www.neatorama.com/2013/03/21/The-Origins-of-the-Terms-Cheesecake-and-Beefcake/#!olTIm


Post Paragraph– I know I have no visual rhetoric so my project looks boring but bear with me as I figure out what I want to do, its a slow process this time. I also learned the hard way with my third word project that my pictures should include captions and that changes the whole layout of the post. Plus when I went to upload the third project from a page to a post, there was no way to keep the formatting and picture placement I previously had. My audience is language enthusiasts.


One thought on “Word Project 4: Food Idioms

  1. […]  I would have also asked for you to look over my fourth word project and give it a grade and some productive feedback: https://mhauryluckdraper.wordpress.com/word-project-4-food-idioms/ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s