Saturday, March 23, 2013

As smart as a pickle

Add to Google Reader or HomepageFood and cuisine hold prominent places in French culture. As one might expect, food is the topic of many French idioms.

« Occupe-toi de tes oignons » or “Mind your own onions” is the French way of saying “Mind your own business”. One of the kids at the crèche was more interested in the puzzle that another child was working on so the teacher said: “Occupe-toi de tes oignons” and finish your own puzzle. The teacher was stereotypically French: « maigre comme un haricot, mince comme une asperge » (skinny as a string bean, an asparagus).

Our friend was taking his French friend to the store and driving slowly as they talked. The French passenger said: « Appuyez sur le champignon et allez plus vite ! » (push on the mushroom and go faster !) or “Step on the gas!”

We were at an apéro and our hostess was talking about her son-in-law and some of the stupid things he did and she referred to him as a « cornichon » (literally a pickle, figuratively a nitwit). The week following, I arrived at the crèche to see all of the children and teachers dressed up in costumes representing fruits or vegetables. I told one teacher that I did not have a costume and she smiled and said: “Then you can be the 
« cornichon ».” I decided that « le ver est dans le fruit » (the worm is in the fruit), i.e., it is too late to do anything about it. This is the truth. I am not about to « raconter des salades » (tell salads - stories).

My hair is « sel et poivre » (salt and pepper – the same as in English) though much more sel than poivre these days…

And don’t forget: « le poisson d’avril » (April fish – April Fool’s Day) will soon be here. Watch out for children who stick a paper fish on your back and then run away shouting “poisson d’avril.”


  1. I love that saying "Smart as a Pickle." Is there a similar saying for "Dumb as a box of Rocks?". Languages are intriguing for sure.

    1. Not a food idiom but I heard of the following: bête/con/stupide comme un manche à balai! > dumb as a broomstick.

  2. My southern friend says "Dumber than two sticks." What could possible be dumber than a stick? Two sticks!