Useful Italian Phrases: Our Top 9 Food Expressions

Who doesn’t love Italian food? From classics such as lasagne to regional specialities – Italian dishes guarantee an amazing culinary experience. But food is much more in Italy than just…well… food. It is quintessential for understanding its culture, people and customs. Everyone who has experienced Italy’s culture and traditions through an Italian cooking holiday knows that. Having said that, why not take a closer look at the Italian language and expand our knowledge with some useful Italian phrases and food idioms?

1. “C’entra come i cavoli a merenda”

Literally this means “it fits like cabbage for the afternoon snack” which means that something doesn’t fit at all or is very inappropriate.

2. “Sei sempre in mezzo come il prezzemolo”

“You are always in the way like parsley!” Well, this saying refers to the vast use of parsley in Italian cooking and means that you always mingle with things that are none of your business or you are – pretty simple – always in the way.

parsley tomatos and peppercorns

3. “Sono pieno come un uovo”

This saying could come in handy on your cooking holiday in Italy! It means you are stuffed (“full as an egg”) and you just can’t eat anymore – no matter how delicious.

4. “Ha la faccia da pesce lesso”

Hopefully you won’t need this one on your holiday in Italy! The literal translation of this idiom is “He has the face of a boiled fish” and means that someone looks boring or wouldn’t be the type of person you would want to make friends with.

Venetian fish freshly prepared by cooking guest

5. “E’ rigido come un baccala”

When you hear that someone is “as rigid as a salted cod” you shouldn’t be put off the delicacies – it has nothing to do with the delicious dish! It simply means that the person is not very comfortable or seems rather stiff.

6. “Avere le mani di pastafrolla”

If you are a little clumsy and often drop things on the floor, you might as well have pasta dough hands…

ravioli cooking making session

7. “Avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca”

This idiom refers to wine rather than food and is a personal favourite. This Italian equivalent for “to have your cake and eat it, too” literally means “To have the wine cask and the wife drunk”.

8. “Rendere pan per focaccia”

This expression literally means “To give back bread for focaccia” (A focaccia is a form of bread typical for the Linguria region). Very similar to “an eye for an eye”, it means to give payback for something wrong.

focaccia with herbs and olives

9. “Tutto fa brodo”

“Everything makes broth” means “every little helps” and means that small improvements will in the long run help you achieve a desired goal. Just like, saving everyday will allow you to go on a holiday in Italy!

Would you like to try your newly learned phrases in an authentic environment? Remember: we don’t charge any single supplement which makes our Italian holidays perfect for single travellers! To find out more download our brochure. 

What do you think?

Do you know any other Italian food idioms? Which one was your favourite? We want to hear your opinion – why not share it in the comment section below?