5 Spanish Food Idioms and How to Use Them

Do you know why you should hurry up if you’re told they’ll ‘give you the grapes’? Or why telling someone to ‘go fry asparagus’ is not a cooking suggestion?  Read this list of 5 Spanish Food Idioms to find out!

In Spanish culture, food plays a starring role both on the table and in the language. There are countless idioms involving food in the Spanish language. Spanish food idioms can be used to describe a situation, to compliment or insult, and even to express shock. Below are 5 Spanish food idioms and how to use them.

Read our list of 5 Spanish Food Idioms to learn fun Spanish expressions like "Go fry asparagus!" and "Oysters!". Impress friends with local Spanish phrases.

Photo Credit: Luke Jones

1. Darte las uvas

Literally it means ‘give you the grapes’ and comes from the beloved Spanish New Year’s Eve tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. ‘Darte las uvas’ is used to hurry someone along if he is late or if she is taking too long to complete a task. Use this expression with friends who are taking too long to admire Picasso pieces at one of the famous museums in Madrid.

2. ¡Ostras!

Oysters beautifully presented with lime and salsa, and the word doubles as a useful Spanish idiom!
Oysters – both delicious, and a useful phrase in Spanish! Photo Credit: Point n Shoot

In English we don’t yell Oysters! when we are caught off guard, but its Spanish translation is perfectly acceptable in Spain. This expression is used when one feels shocked or surprised. Feel free to use ¡Ostras! while you’re looking at a restaurant menu in Spain and realize that a glass of exquisite Spanish wine costs less than $5!

3. Ser pan comido

loaf of bread, easy to eat - hence the use of the Spanish idiom!
Getting lost in Madrid is as easy as eating bread! Photo Credit: Jeffrey W

Literally translated it means to be eaten bread. Ser pan comido is an idiom used to describe a task that is very easy to complete or do. This expression can be used to describe how easy it is to get lost along the winding streets of old Madrid.

4. ¡Vete a freír a espárragos!

asparagus, something that friends should go and fry when they're annoying you! A very useful Spanish food idiom!
Send that annoying friend away to fry some asparagus! Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel

Literally translated to go fry asparagus! This imperative isn’t a cooking suggestion. Spaniards use it to tell someone to go away because they are being very annoying. Use ¡Vete a freír a espárragos! when your travel companion has convinced themselves they would make a great flamenco dancer and are practicing in your hotel room.

5. No todo el monte es orégano

oregano, useful as a garnish and useful as a Spanish idiom!
Delicious oregano, but not all the plants are herbs! Photo Credit: Roman Plessl

This expressions translates into not every hill is oregano and comes from the rural custom of going up a hill to pick herbs. Not every plant picked is an herb, some are weeds or other non-edible plants. No todo el monte es orégano is a reality check; sometimes things are not always as great as you expect them to be. Spanish cuisine is scrumptious, but not every restaurant in Madrid lives up to the standard. Use this expression if you ever find yourself served a subpar meal.

What is the weirdest idiom you’ve ever heard?

Featured Image Credit: Bernal Saborio

3 Comment

  1. April 27, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Great blog on Spanish idioms! You also covered a bit of Spanish culture on how to use them and why. Now visitors won’t be just like “any other tourists” when they go and dine in Spain. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah Gray says
    March 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Hostia, not Ostra.

    1. Devour Tours says
      March 14, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Ostras if you’re in mixed company 🙂 https://dle.rae.es/?id=RJkChD7

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