Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mexican sayings: Food edition

Ah, more colorful dichos! The cheeky cousins of common sense. Mexican sayings are spirited expressions that have been handed down through the ages, marinating in the minds of generations. 

Mexicans have an uncanny knack for finding humor in life’s absurdities; it’s like we have a sarcasm compass built right into our collective DNA. We laugh in the face of adversity with a pinch of double meaning here and a dash of irony there. We’ve mastered the art of self-mockery, and it’s this irreverent insight that keeps us in check, binds us together and encourages us forward. 

This time, we’re diving into the tasty world of Mexican sayings that use food to illustrate the national mindset. Just like salsa, where flavors come together to create an endearingly spicy mouthful, these sayings add depth and meaning to everyday situations.

Keep in mind that Mexican sayings don’t translate very well because the humor and recall are in the wording, but have fun practicing your pronunciation for when you want to say something clever. I dare you not to twist your tongue on the third saying!

Le echa mucha crema a sus tacos 

Translation: They put too much cream on their tacos. 

This is used for people who tend to exaggerate their own merits and make themselves out to be more impressive than they really are. It’s as if they’ve embarked on a taco-making spree with the enthusiasm of a master chef, but in reality, they’ve got more toppings than filling. When someone can’t resist garnishing their life stories with extra dollops of self-praise, this phrase will remind them to take it down a notch and stay humble. 

“El que nace para tamal, del cielo le caen las hojas”

Translation: If someone is born to be a tamal, the corn husks fall from the sky. 

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made by wrapping corn masa and other ingredients with a corn husk before cooking. This phrase teaches us that those born with a particular calling will effortlessly find the necessary resources and opportunities to fulfill that purpose. It reminds us to have faith that the heavens will send the right gifts when we’re on the right path. 

El que nace para tamal… (Canva)

“A chillidos de marrano, oídos de chicharronero”

Translation: To pig squeals, the ears of a cook who makes pork cracklings.

This saying reminds us to turn a deaf ear to foolish words. The world-canceling noise made by chewing on chicharrones is deafening enough. Now add the utter disregard for what the pigs have to say! Our best response to futile baloney or malicious criticism can only be our most sincere indifference. 

“Se quedó como el perro de las dos tortas”

Translation: They ended up like the dog with two sandwiches.

This is said to describe a person who is faced with a difficult decision, can’t make up their mind. The two tortas, or large traditional sandwiches, symbolize desirable options or opportunities. The dog in this story can’t pick one and therefore, ends up with none. This saying has always made me picture a pitifully hungry pup unable to open his mouth wide enough. This saying highlights the consequences of indecisiveness and serves to remind us not to hesitate in making timely choices – or risk losing it all. 

“Del plato a la boca se cae la sopa”

Translation: Soup spills on the way from the bowl to the mouth.

This saying reminds us that even the most solid plans can crumble before completion. It’s the Mexican way of saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Given that life can surprise us with unexpected twists and turns, filling the spoon is not the same as eating the soup. So, do more and talk less because it’s better to serve up a hearty dish of results than a bowl of half-cooked promises. 

“Voy a echar un taco de ojo”

Translation: I’ll go have an eye taco.

Yes, Mexicans eat cow eyes in tacos but this phrase means something else entirely. An eye taco refers to the art of indulging in a visual feast, a secret dance between your eyes and the captivating spectacle of attractive people passing by. No introductions, no interactions, just the pure, guilt-free enjoyment of admiring the aesthetics of strangers. It’s a leisurely stroll through the eye candy aisle when you’re only there to enjoy the view. 

Now, you too can season your life in Mexico with these saucy sayings to impress your friends. So, next time you’re in a pickle, remember life is like a tortilla. You’ve got to roll with it! May your days be filled with laughter, love, and a lot of delicious idioms to chew on.

Sandra is a Mexican writer and translator based in San Miguel de Allende who specializes in mental health and humanitarian aid. She believes in the power of language to foster compassion and understanding across cultures. She can be reached at: [email protected] 


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