What are Italian sayings about Food?


I don’t speak much Italian (or any at all, beside Ciao!) but a quick search gave me some of these Italian sayings and common phrases about food:


Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco

Literally, this saying means that “not all doughnuts come with a hole”. It is a fancy way to say that not everything goes as planned! As long as the doughnut is sweet and is edible, you can take it to mean that it is an awesome dessert choice.


Bevici su – Il bar non porta i ricordi. Sono i ricordi che portano al bar.

Strictly speaking, this is not a quote about food, but it is related to drinks! Literally, this means “Drink up, the bar doesn’t bring memories. Memories bring you to the bar.” In other words, it is an invitation for you to go to the bar with a group of friends. Like many places, the bar is seen as a great choice for you if you want to get together with a group of friends. This is true for all ages.


Fare polpette di qualcuno

This literally means to make meatballs of someone. It is an idiom that means to treat someone roughly. Perhaps you know that someone has a reputation for cheating, or that they have wronged you or someone you know well somehow. The English equivalent would be making mincemeat or hamburger out of someone.


Tutto finisce a tarallucci e vino

The literal translation to this idiom is “it all ends in biscuits and wine”. This means that everything will be just fine, and it will turn out great – in other words, you will be able to enjoy biscuits and wine! So, you should not worry and just do your best.


Avere il prosciutto sugli occhi

This literally means to have ham in your eyes. In other words, it means that you cannot or refuse to see anything. You can make things up or pretend that they are going the way that you want them to go. If you have ham in your eyes, it would be the equivalent of having your head in the sand in English.


Fare una spaghettata

This one seems extremely Italian – to eat spaghetti! When an Italian person says this to you, they mean that you should catch up, perhaps over a meal. They want to hear about the things that you have been doing and share with you about their lives. You could go to a coffee shop or have actual spaghetti – it does not matter, as long as you are spending some quality time together.


Sono pieno come un uovo

This means that you are extremely full. Literally, you say that you are as full as an egg! I guess it makes sense, until you crack the egg.


Conosco i miei polli

This literally means that you “know your chicken”. It sounds like a weird way to express yourself until you realize that chicken is used in many, many Italian dishes and having cooking skills means other people should not challenge you. To put it another way, you know what you are talking about and do not want to be doubted.


Non puoi avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca

This literally means that you cannot have a full wine barrel and a drunk wife. In English, we would say that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.


Sei come il prezzemolo

If someone says this to you, they are literally telling you that you are like parsley, the herb. What they mean is that you are always everywhere (just like parsley is used in a lot of Italian dishes). They can just mean it in an observational way, or they might mean that you are always getting in the way.


Due dita di vino e una pedata al medico

This is another saying that has to do with wine! It literally translates to “two drops of wine and we can kick the doctor out the door”. This is the equivalent of the saying in English with doctors and apples – an apple a day keeps the doctor away! In other words, drinking wine is healthy.


Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare

This one translates pretty well into English, with which you can say “Eat to live, don’t live to eat”. In other words, you had better have a higher purpose in life than eating!

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