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Food for Thought: Mexican Expressions

Food for Thought: Mexican Expressions

A recent story in Mexico News Daily entitled, “Food for thought: Mexican expressions inspired by the dinner table,” provides humorous insights into the nation’s culture and comestibles. 

“Mexico’s mouthwatering cuisine has accomplished more than just delighting our palates and swelling our waistlines; it has immensely enriched local Spanish and expanded the colorful portfolio of Mexican sayings,” the article stated. 

Here are five common food-related expressions and the ‘real meaning behind the metaphors’ as reported by Lee Jamison, author of the book “My Burning Tongue: Mexican Spanish” and operator of the website https://insiderspanish.com/

Echarle mucha crema a los tacos

Literal meaning: To put a lot of cream on the tacos

A little sour cream on tacos adds a nice touch, but too much can ruin them. If your significant other has a tendency to spin tall tales, bring him or her them back to earth with this culinary adage.

Husband: Hoy saqué un pescado de 5 kilos. 

Translation: Today I caught a 5-kilo fish.

Wife: Bájale, mi amor. Le estás echando mucha crema a los tacos. 

Translation: Come on, dear, you’re exaggerating.

Regar el tepache

Literal meaning: To spill the fermented pineapple drink

Are you a big talker? Eager to be the first to spread the news? If so, be careful not to spill the beans, or in this case, the tepache, a fermented drink made from pineapple or other fruits.

Expression: ¡Híjole! ¡Ya regaste el tepache! Nadie más supo que mi esposa está embarazada.

Translation: Man! You spilled the beans! No one else knew my wife is pregnant.

No se puede chiflar y comer pinole.

Literal meaning: You can’t whistle and eat corn meal.

Multitaskers beware! There are certain activities you can’t perform simultaneously, as this proverb asserts. If you had pinole, a sweetened corn meal, in your mouth, it would be impossible to whistle. 

Use this corny logic when someone attempts the impossible (or the inadvisable) without visualizing the big picture.

Expression: Quieren acabar con el virus y abrir la economía al mismo tiempo. No se puede chiflar y comer pinole.

Translation: They want to eradicate the virus and open the economy at the same time. You can’t do two things at once.


Del año del caldo

Literal meaning: From the soup year

In what year did your great-grandparents get married? Do you even know their names? If an event happened that long ago, then natives will say it happened in the year that soup was invented.

Expression: Deje de mirar esas fotos; son del año del caldo. 

Translation: Stop looking at those pictures; they’re super old.

Sale más caro el caldo que las albóndigas.

Literal meaning: The broth ends up being more expensive than the meatballs.

We live in a throwaway society. In developed countries, who gets their printer fixed? In many cases, the repair costs are prohibitive. It’s more feasible to buy a new one. 

Use this adage when faced with unreasonable repair costs or any other endeavor that won’t be worth the trouble in the long run.

Person A: ¿Qué te parece si llevamos el microondas a repararse? 

Translation: How about getting the microwave fixed?

Person B: No, ¿qué crees? Sale más caro el caldo que las albóndigas. 

Translation: Are you kidding? The cure is worse than the disease.

Jamison, the story’s author, gets the last word: “Remember: you are what you eat. Be determined, then, to fully digest these culinary sayings. If you do, when they pop up in everyday conversation, you will find yourself as cool as a cucumber.”