Spanish seems to have a richness of food-related expressions. One for every occasion. A few of these expressions are exclusively Dominican, some are well known across the Spanish-speaking world, while others are country/region specific.
- El que come tayota, bebe cerveza y besa una vieja, ni ha comido ni ha bebido ni ha besado. He who eats chayote, drinks beer and kisses an old woman, has neither eaten, drank nor kissed – A disparaging reference to the bland taste of chayote, the mildness of beer compared to hard liquor, and the fading charms of women in their later years.
- A falta de pan, casabe/ buenas tortas/tortillas/galletas/arepas. – If you don’t have bread, make do with casabe/cakes/tortillas/cookies/arepas. This one varies according to region. It means make do with what you have, possibly an allusion to Marie Antoinette’s « Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. » -“Let them eat cake”.
- Estar como el primer guandul – To be like the first pigeon pea, meaning that someone is in good shape for their age. A close but not exact equivalent in English would be “to be full of beans”.
- Se cree que es la ultima Coca Cola en el desierto – S/he thinks s/he is the last Coca Cola in the desert. Someone who thinks they are God’s gift to humanity.
- Pan con pan, comida de tontos – Bread with bread, food for fools – meaning that it is silly to eat two similar types of food together, like pasta with potatoes, pizza with bread. It can also be used figuratively.
- Pan comido – Literally, “eaten bread” – “a piece of cake” or “as easy as pie” in English.
- Lentejas, comida de viejas, si quieres las comes o si no las dejas – Lentils, old women’s food: if you want you can eat them, if not, just leave them. A rhyme that means “take it or leave it.”
- Tener mala leche – literally: to have bad milk. A nasty or unpleasant person, or someone who is in a foul mood (mostly in Spain) while in some Latin American countries it means to have bad luck.
- Me importa un comino/pepino – the literal translation is meaningless: I don’t care a cumin/cucumber. I don’t give a damn/I couldn’t care less.
- Como sardinas en lata – Like sardines in a can – the same as in English – to describe crowded or cramped conditions.
- Mi media naranja – my half orange – similar to “my other half” – my partner, spouse or soul mate.
- El año de la pera – literally “the year of the pear” meaning ancient. “Esa canción es del año de la pera.”
- Si la vida te da limones, haz limonada – this is a well known American English saying attributed to Dale Carnegie that has been adopted by Spanish speakers
- Jamona – literally “ham” but it means an unmarried woman, an old maid, a spinster. In some countries it also refers to a fat or curvaceous woman, an attractive woman or a prostitute.
- ¡Vete a freír espárragos! – Go fry asparagus! – A polite way of asking someone to… go forth and multiply.