If you're chatting to native Spanish speakers, chances are you're going to hear them use lots of expressions, idioms or sayings, especially if they’re speaking informally. Lots of our expressions revolve around food, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise because Spanish people have always loved to eat!
Here are 8 food-related expressions and how to use them. They will make you sound really fluent and they're also a great way to express your love for food!
1. Ser pan comido
Are you finding something incredibly easy to do? Like a piece of cake or as easy as pie? Then you would say “esto es pan comido”, which literally translates as “this is eaten bread”.
Example: El examen fue pan comido. (The exam was a piece of cake.)
2. Ser un pedazo de pan
Here’s another one related to bread. In Spain, a meal isn’t a meal without some bread on the side. That’s why so many Spanish expressions revolve around it! We use this expression to describe people, and you would say that someone is a piece of bread if you think they’re great.
Example: Marta siempre ayuda a todo el mundo. Es un pedazo de pan. (Marta is always helping everyone. She’s great.)
3. Estar empanado
Yes, un filete empanado is a fillet of meat coated in breadcrumbs. But, if someone says to you “estás empanado”, it doesn’t mean you’re fried in breadcrumbs! We actually use this expression to describe someone who’s not feeling great.
Example: Mi hermano está empanado, no se entera de nada. (My brother isn’t feeling great today, he’s not getting anything.)
4. Dar las uvas
I bet you’re wondering why someone would say “you’re going to be given the grapes” (“te van a dar las uvas”)? Well, if you’re taking too long to get ready or finish something, someone might use this expression to hurry you along. It comes from the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and by saying this, someone’s implying that you’re really slow and you won’t get to the party on time to eat the grapes at midnight!
Example: ¿Todavía no estás listo? ¡Nos van a dar las uvas! (You’re still not ready? We’re going to be late!)
5. Irse a freír espárragos
Telling someone to “vete a freir espárragos”, which literally translates as “go and fry asparagus”, isn’t suggesting that they should go to the kitchen and start cooking! You can use this informal expression to tell a friend to leave you alone when you think they’re being annoying.
Example: ¡Qué pesado eres! ¡Vete a freír espárragos! (You’re so annoying! Go away!)
6. Ser la leche
If you think that someone or something is amazing, you would say “es la leche” (“he/she/it is the milk”). However, depending on the context and the tone you say it in, it can either be very positive or it can be extremely negative!
Examples: El concierto de anoche fue la leche. (Last night’s concert was amazing.)
Carlos nunca llega a tiempo, ¡es la leche! (Carlos is never on time, he’s unbelievable!)
7. Estar de mala leche
Here’s another one related to milk. “Estar de mala leche” literally means “to be of bad milk”, and we use it to say that someone is in a bad mood. You can swap the verb estar for tener and say “tiene mala leche” (“she/he has bad milk”) when someone has a bad temper.
Examples: María está de mala leche, no sé qué le pasará. (María is in a bad mood, I don’t know what’s wrong with her.)
Mi padre tiene muy mala leche. (My father has a very bad temper.)
Shouting “Oysters!” in Spanish does not mean you’ve seen some delicious looking oysters and would like some! This is an exclamation we use to indicate surprise or astonishment.
Example: ¡Ostras! ¡Menuda sorpresa! (Wow! What a surprise!)
9. Importar un pimiento
You can say “me importa un pimiento”, literally “it matters to me a pepper”, to indicate that something is irrelevant or that you couldn’t care less about it.
Example: Me importa un pimiento lo que me digas. (I couldn’t care less about what you’re saying to me.)
10. Dar la vuelta a la tortilla
If you’re cooking a potato omelette, this literally means “to flip the omelette”. However, in a completely different context, if things are going badly, you can tell someone to flip the omelette suggesting they make a radical change.
Example: No seas tan negativo e intenta darle la vuelta a la tortilla. (Don’t be so negative and try and make a change.)
So now you’ve got a fair few, try and pop one into conversation when you next speak to a native Spanish speaker. Oh and if you practise them enough, and they’ll be pan comido!
Paula is from Valladolid in Spain where she studied English Literature and Linguistics. She then moved to London where she completed a CELTA to teach English and did an MA in translation and interpreting. She loves reading, architecture, painting and cooking.