Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Forget to Eat Your Metaphors!

The English language is filled with metaphors, similes, and idioms, and many of them revolve around food and the act of eating. Food is such an integral part of our lives that it has seeped into our everyday phrases. Some of these food phrases are so engrained in our culture that we don’t even think about the origins of them as revolving around ingredients, cooking, or eating, but we really do compare many aspects of our lives to food!

So what food figures of speech are out there?

Apple of one’s eye
Comparing apples to oranges
Rotten to the core
Forbidden fruit
Fruits of one’s labor
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Go bananas
Sour grapes
Peachy keen
How do you like them apples?

Baked Goods
The best thing since sliced bread
Have one’s cake and eat it too
The icing on the cake
Take the cake
As nutty as a fruitcake
To have a bun in the oven
Easy as apple pie
Pie in the sky
One smart cookie
A piece of cake
Eat humble pie
That’s the way the cookie crumbles
Tough cookie
You’re toast
Flat as a pancake

Don’t cry over spilt milk
Not one’s cup of tea
Not for all the tea in China
Wake up and smell the coffee

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Egg on one’s face
Bad egg (or a good egg)
Don’t put all of one’s egg in one basket
Don’t count one’s eggs before they hatch
Nest egg
Walk on eggshells

That won’t amount to a hill of beans
Spill the beans

Everything from soup to nuts
To stew over something

Who can forget those Chicken Soup for the Soul books? Whatever happened to them…?

Nuts about something
Hard nut to crack
In a nutshell
Work for peanuts

Cream of the crop
Cool as a cucumber
Two peas in a pod
In a pickle

Bigger fish to fry

Packed in like sardines

Couch potato
To drop something like a hot potato
Small potatoes
Meat and potatoes

Rub salt in one’s wounds
Salt of the earth
Take something with a grain of salt
Worth one’s salt

Big cheese
To butter someone up
That’s cheesy
Crème de la crème
The proof is in the pudding
That really butters my bread!

Bring home the bacon
To chew the fat

Spice of life
Spice things up

Grains and Pasta
Sow your wild oats
To use one’s noodle

Like taking candy from a baby

Hard to stomach
Acquire a taste for something
Bite of more than one can chew
Bite the hand that feeds you
To eat one’s heart out
To eat one’s words
To eat someone out of house and home
Sink one’s teeth into something
No such thing as a free lunch
Whet one’s appetite
Out to lunch
Glutton for punishment
Sing for one’s supper
You are what you eat

What’s cooking?
Recipe for disaster
To many cooks in the kitchen

Kitchen Utensils
Have a lot on one’s plate
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
The pot calling the kettle black

To have something handed to you on a silver platter

A watched pot never boils

And, of course, there’s always food for thought!

Food can also be used to connote sexual desires, such as describing somebody as “eye candy” or a “tall drink of water” or asking someone if she “wants fries with that shake?” Songs in particular use food metaphors in place of sexually suggestive topics, such as in the lyrics below:

“Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better
But I like candy when it’s wrapped in a sweater
Some day soon I’ll make her mine
Then I’ll have candy all the time
I want candy”

—The Strangeloves, “I Want Candy”

“Squeeze me, babe, till the juice runs down my leg
Do, squeeze me, squeeze me, until the juice runs down my leg
The way you squeeze my lemon
I’m gonna fall right outta bed”

—Led Zeppelin, “The Lemon Song”

“I’ll take you to the candy shop
I’ll let you lick the lollipop”

—50 Cent, “Candy Shop”

“Ah, brown sugar, how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should”

—Rolling Stones, “Brown Sugar”

“Come on-a my house, my house, I’m gonna give you candy
Come on-a my house, my house/I’m gonna give you
Apple and plum and apricot-a too”

— Rosemary Clooney, “C’mon a My House”

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”

—Kelis, “Milkshake”

“Please mister, don’t touch me tomato
No, don’t touch me tomato
Touch me on me pumpkin, potato
For goodness sake, don’t touch me tomato”

—Josephine Baker, “Don’t Touch Me Tomato”

“Black boys are delicious
Chocolate flavored love
Licorice lips like candy
Keep my cocoa handy
I have such a sweet tooth
When it comes to love”

—Hair, “Black Boys”

Anymore food metaphors, similes, or idioms out there?

That's the way the cookie crumbles!

1 comment:

  1. As for songs, I always liked the one from "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band:
    "You're the cutest thing that I ever did see
    Really love your peaches, want to shake your tree"

    Although I think I heard that those lyrics and some others from the song were more or less lifted directly out of some older Motown songs