Did you know that more people speak Spanish than English around the world? With 400 million speakers, it’s the second-most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is extremely versatile, and its idioms often reflect what’s most important in the culture where it is spoken. It’s no surprise then that so many Spanish idioms revolve around food. These 13 food-related idioms will make you sound like an expert Spanish speaker, and are also a fun way to showcase your love of food! If these phrases start making you hungry, check out the Spanish items on our shop.
Ser pan comido
This is just like our English idiom, “to be a piece of cake.” It directly translates to “to be bread eaten,” and means something is super simple or easy to do.
Example: El trabajo es pan comido. (The job is a piece of cake.)
Dar calabazas a alguien
Apparently pumpkins are not a welcome gift in Spanish-speaking countries. This phrase means “to give someone pumpkins,” and is used when rejecting someone’s romantic advances.
Example: He invitado a Iris a ir al cine, pero me ha dado calabazas. (I invited Iris to go to the movies, but she rejected me.)
Estar como un fideo
“To be like a noodle.” This phrase is used to describe someone who is very thin – it’s similar to the English phrase “as thin as a rail.”
Example: Ella esta como un fideo. (She is as thin as a rail.)
Ponerse como una sopa / Estar como una sopa
“To be soaked to the bone.” It literally means, “to be like a soup.” It refers to getting drenched in the rain.
Example: Llueve a cántaros. Estoy como una sopa! (It’s raining cats and dogs. I’m soaked to the bone!)
Ser carne de cañón
This phrase is similar to the English “to be thrown under the bus.” The direct translation is “to be meat from a cannon.” It refers to a person or group of people, usually of lower social station, who are blamed for something.
Example: Los más tranquilos siempre son carne de cañón. Es fácil echarles la culpa. (The most quiet people are always thrown under the bus. It’s easy to throw the blame on them.)
Dar las uvas
When a Spanish person tells you “te van a dar las uvas” (I’m going to give the grapes), it means that they are going to be late. The phrase comes from a New Years Eve tradition, where people eat 12 grapes at midnight to start the new year. To give someone the grapes means that you won’t arrive in time to eat the 12 grapes at midnight.
Example: Prepárate para salir, que es casi la hora y nos van a dar las uvas. (Get ready to go, because it’s almost time and we are doing to be late.)
Importar un pimiento/un pepino (a alguien)
This one means to not be worried or care at all about something. Literally, it means “to matter a pepper.” It’s similar to “I couldn’t give a fig,” which dates back to the earliest days of Modern English — think Shakespearean times — or the most vulgar, “I don’t give a crap.”
Example: Me importa un pimiento que tu dices. (I don’t give a crap what you are saying.)
Cortar el bacalao
“To cut the cod.” This phrase is used to refer to the person who has power in a situation or group. Think, “the one who calls the shots,” in English.
Example: Antonio es el entrenador, pero aquí el que corta el bacalao es Juan. (Antonio is the coach, but the one who’s really in charge here is Juan.)
Estar de mala leche / Tener mala leche
“De mala leche” means “of bad milk.” When you use “estar” (to be) with it, it refers to being in a bad mood. When you use “tener” with it, it refers to having a bad temper.
Example: Mi esposa tiene muy mala leche. Ella siempre está gritando. (My wife has a bad temper. She’s always shouting.)
Ser un chorizo
This phrase means “to be a chorizo.” A chorizo is a type of pork sausage. It’s used to say someone is a thief.
Example: Los políticos son unos chorizos. (Politicians are thieves.)
Taco de ojo
This one is used primarily in Mexico, and refers to eye candy — someone you find attractive. Literally, it means “taco of the eye.” It’s often used with “echar,” which means “to throw.”
Example: Pues acá echándome un taco de ojo. (So, here I am enjoying the eye candy.)
Sacarle las castañas del fuego
This phrase refers to solving other people’s problems. It literally means “to get the chestnuts of out the fire to someone.” It’s similar to the English phrase “to save someone’s bacon.”
Example: Que sea la última vez que saque las castañas del fuego por ti, Pablo. (This is the last time I get you out of this mess, Pablo.)
Shouting “oysters” in Spanish is like shouting “woah” in English. It’s an exclamation of surprise, for when you are caught off guard.
Example: ¡Ostras! ¡Me asustaste! (Woah! You frightened me!)