“In the end, we’re all fruit…” Food expressions in English

“In the end, we’re all fruit…” Food expressions in English: part 1

Idioms are colloquial phrases, and their meaning in English cannot be understood literally. Often to express a point or to illustrate something a native speaker will resort to using an idiom. The ironic thing about idioms is that you can’t just “pull them out of your hat” any time as they usually come to mind at the time of speaking. 

For English learners, the mastery of idioms often reflects their advanced level. It is common for the idioms to be grouped according to their topic. Today I’d like to offer you 10 food idioms that you can use in everyday English.
  1. As useful  as a chocolate teapot. Use this expression to talk about something that has no value at all and is absolutely impractical. The big decision-makers in the healthcare industry most often have no idea about the day-to-day hospital needs, so the laws they pass are often as useful as a chocolate teapot.
  2. All the tea in China. Use this expression to emphasize that you won’t do something no matter what. Are you serious? Jane is NOT going to produce this report. Not for all the tea in China.
  3. All your eggs in one basket. Use this expressions when talking about taking all the risk at once, and not spreading it. When investing into a financial institution it is not wise to put (keep, have) all your eggs in one basket just to prevent a huge loss.
  4. A bad apple. Use this expression to refer to a person who is negative and has negative influence on those around him. Whenever you come across a bad apple on your team you should get rid of it before it spoils the whole bunch. (a full idiom is “a bad apple spoils the bunch”).
  5. A bad egg. Use this expression to refer to a person who cannot be trusted. Use “a good egg” as the opposite. “I don’t know why he’s always looking at my computer screen trying to see what I’m working on.” “He surely acts like a bad egg, and I wouldn’t trust him with a lot of sensitive information.”
  6. Big cheese. Use this expression to refer to your boss or any important person in a group. It can also be used negatively speaking of somebody who thinks too much of him/ herself because of the power he/she has. Oh, I’m so busy this weekend. We have the board meeting with all the big cheeses present.
  7. Bun in the oven. Use this expression to refer to a pregnant woman. Well, she’s had a bun in her oven for a little while, but you can’t hide it anymore. 
  8. Bring home the bacon. Use this expression to talk about a family member who earns the money for the family. It is not surprising to see many families where mothers bring home the bacon.* 
  9. On the back burner. Use this to talk about a project or activity that is least important at the moment of speaking. As our board had no interest in this project it was put on the back burnerThe opposite of “the back burner” is “the front burner”. If you keep something on the front burner it means you give it all of your priority.
  10. Apples and oranges. Use this expression to describe the fact that you can’t compare two totally different things/concepts. Speaking of Todd and Kendra, I don’t think we can even compare their sales strategies. They’re totally different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges! **
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*This expression actually has an interesting history: “In the twelfth century, a church in the English town of Dunmow promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his forbearance.”
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** Speaking of “apples and oranges” I remembered a great example from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In the movie, the father of a Greek bride finds it extremely hard to let his daughter marry an American. To him, “apples and oranges” will never be a good match for each other. Yet, in the end, he comes to a wonderful conclusion. You can watch the video to find out! Enjoy!

“Out of the frying pan into the fire…” Food Idioms in English Part 2

I might be throwing you out of the frying pan into the fire by posting two consecutive articles on food idioms in English as it might be a bit overwhelming, but please bear with me. In the end, it will be all worth it. If you haven’t yet read the previous post, I suggest looking through it carefully and taking notes. In today’s post I will be referring to a lesson plan that will include some of the previous idioms as well as a few new ones.

First off, I would like for you to read the following story crammed with idioms and expressions. The story was borrowed from here, and you can find a few activities that will make a great lesson plan if you’re a teacher.

Bob works hard to bring home the bacon1and put bread and butter2 on his family’s table. Every morning, he drags himself to his desk at the bank and faces his tedious 10-hour-a-day job. His boss, Mark, is a bad egg3 but has somehow taken a liking to Bob so he always speaks well of Bob in front of Mr. Davies, the owner and big cheese4 of the company. Mark tells Mr. Davies that Bob’s the cream of the crop5 and is one smart cookie6 who uses his noodles7. Mark likes to chew the fat8 with Bob during coffee break and discusses half-baked9 company plans with him because he trusts Bob and knows that Bob won’t spill the beans10 behind his back. On these occasions, Bob tries to avoid any hot potatoes11 and, even if Mark isn’t his cup of tea12, Bob makes an effort to butter him up13 by leading Mark into discussions about electronic gadgets which Mark is nuts about14. Bob really thinks that Mark is out to lunch15 and nutty as a fruitcake16, but in a nutshell17, if he polishes the apple18, his job could become a piece of cake19 and maybe one day he will find his gravy train20.

  1. Bring home the bacon
  2. Put bread and butter on the table: When you “put bread and butter” on the table you are the provider for your family. You can also say “we talked about bread and butter issues”, which means you talk about something very important for people.
  3. Bad egg
  4. Big cheese
  5. The cream of the crop is used to talk about the best people, the best there is.
  6. One smart cookie: Somebody is called “one smart cookie” when they are really smart. You can also say that the person is “on the ball.”
  7. Use one’s (his, your, my) noodles means to “use your brains” and to think.
  8. Chew the fat with somebody means to have a conversation with them.
  9. Half-baked plans are the plans that are in the process of materializing, in the works.
  10. Spill the beans means to tell the secret. Another good expression is “to let the cat out of the bag.”
  11. Hot potatoes are very difficult discussion topics that can provoke a lot of debate.
  12. It’s not my cup of tea means it’s not something I enjoy doing.
  13. Butter somebody up is to flatter somebody, tell them something nice they want to hear so they will like you. This is generally referred to students “buttering up” their teachers and employees “buttering up” their bosses.
  14. To be nuts about something means to be crazy about something (a subject, object or a person).
  15. To be out to lunch: Use “out to lunch” when you imply that somebody is not quite himself or that they’re crazy.
  16. Nutty as a fruitcake is used to describe a person with a lot of strange tendencies and behaviors.
  17. In a nutshell — in general. This expression is often used when you summarize what you’ve just said.
  18. To polish one’s apple means to try to win favor through flattering somebody (just like buttering somebody up). The expression comes from the time in 1920s when children would polish apples to bring as gifts to their teachers.
  19. A piece of cake.
  20. To find one’s gravy train means to achieve success.
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