Ok, I admit this guest-blogging thing has taken over my blog- my bad, I rarely can find the time to follow my calendar. I promise I’ll work on it from September on! But this guest-blogging also means we get to read amazing contributions from fellow linguists, which I am always ever so grateful for. This week, Emeline Jamoul from In Touch Translations tells us more about food idioms from Belgium.
After a wonderful post by Manuela Ribecai about bread idioms in French, let’s take a different perspective in this article. Indeed, I come from Belgium and those who speak French probably know that Belgian French can slightly differ from the standard language. Belgicisms are savory pieces of language that illustrate the Belgian spirit: a mix between humor and practicality that has been greatly influenced by the regional dialects.
“Battre le beurre”
Literally “To beat the butter”
Meaning: “To lose one’s grip”
The origin of this idiom is quite obscure. However, one can assume that the usage originated in ancient times when women used to beat the butter manually. Sometimes, the butter failed to soften despite their constant beating, which left them confused.
“Chou vert et vert chou”
Literally “Green cabbage and cabbage green”
Meaning: “Six of one”
This one is pretty funny because it lost part of its meaning through times. It originally comes from the French idiom “Jus vert et verjus” (literally “Green juice and verjuice”). Verjuice is the green juice that’s obtained when you press grapes that are not completely ripe. How did we get to “cabbage”, you ask? According to this book, the idiom is the result of a misunderstanding: someone heard “chou” instead of “jus” (which, with the thick accent they used to have at the time could be close to one another). It is now used to express the fact that two things are exactly the same. Note that in France, the original idiom has completely disappeared and has been replaced by “bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet” (“white beanie and beanie white”).
“Perdre ses tartines”
Literally “To lose one’s sandwiches”
Meaning: “To lose one’s mind”
“Tartines” are slices of bread that Belgians like to eat for breakfast, lunch… Well, basically anytime. They are inherent to the Belgian culture; we love to fill them with anything: the well-know charcuterie, cheese, or even pear syrup! I’ve travelled to many European countries but have failed to find something that came close to our “tartines”. Indeed, they are so important to us that we use them in an idiom!
“Ne pas avoir toutes ses frites dans le même sachet”
Literally “To not have all of one’s French fries in the same bag”
Meaning “To have a screw loose”
Another gem here! If you go to a “friterie” (a place where they sell “French fries”), you will be able to buy a bag of French fries. In this idiom, the bag represents the brain. No, this doesn’t mean that all we think about is French fries! We use this expression to show that someone is a bit cuckoo, and that everything is not “in there” or at least not in the right place! 🙂
Thanks so much Emeline for such an interesting post, it was a pleasure to have you here!