Histoire de legumes….

Histoire de légumes!

There was a fun question in a game / un jeu, yesterday on the French radio ; the contestants/ les participants had to recall three idiomatic expressions/ idiomes with the name of a vegetable or a fruit/ un légume ou un fruit. They easily won of course, the French language has so many! And it got me thinking….. and remembering…. Old ones that my Dad (a true Parisian) often uses but that are not that frequent anymore in today’s parlance, as wells as current ones which never fail to bring a smile to my lips / un sourire sur mes lèvres……


So here are some, for your pleasure and edification. Enjoy!  

  • Funny how money and money matters are often talked about in a roundabout way : “avoir de l’avoine” (to have oats) and “avoir du blé” both mean “to have money/dough/dosh”. “Avoir de l’oseille” (sorrel) too. Having a new source of income when you are struggling “ça met du beurre dans les épinards” (it puts butter in your spinach) ; in other words it improves on your ordinary income. But if you say “je gagne des cacahuètes”, you really earn peanuts and are not very rich!


  • Being like a pear spells bad news, so does having your face compared to an apple : If someone “est une bonne poire” (a good pear) he is too kind and regularly taken advantage of ; and if your are told “c’est bien fait pour ta pomme!”, your partner is not very kind and thinks “it serves you right!”


  • “Faire le poireau” (to do the leek) means to wait for someone for far too long and often in vain. When “les carottes sont cuites” (carrots are cooked) you know you have lost and nothing can change that and when “c’est la fin des haricots” (the end of the beans) it’s rather bad news, not what you were hoping for, and there again you are powerless!



  • When a friend or family member is too nosy, you can tell him/her to mind their own business (or their own onions) : “occupe-toi de tes oignons!” They might turn bright red with embarrassment “être rouge comme une tomate”.


  • “Se prendre une prune” (to take a plum) is luckily quite rare and means to get shot, whereas “se prendre un pruneau” (to take a prune) is to get a fine.



  • Getting old has its own idioms : “sucrer les fraises” (to sweeten the strawberries) is to have shaky hands or even lose your marbles, and someone who “mange les pissenlits par la racine” (eats dandelions by the root) is dead!


There are more of course, with other food groups, but that will be the subject of a later post!