Ok, let’s face it: at this time of year a large part of our focus is on food. We have Thanksgiving, which is the starting point of our obsession; then there are office potlucks and holiday parties with our friends, culminating in the celebration of our particular holiday with our family. But wait, its not over yet, then there are the New Year’s parties! So I thought it might be appropriate to do food cliches today 🙂
no spring chicken: something no one wants to be called, this cliche means that one is past their prime. This one comes from farming, specifically New England farmers. They realized that a chick born in the spring brought much better prices than ones that had overwintered. But some farmers tried to slip the older chickens into the “spring” catagory, leading customers to complain that it was “no spring chicken.”* This phrase grew to include anything–including people– that was no longer in its tender years.
spill the beans: to reveal a secret. Oddly, this one has nothing to do with food, in the sense that we don’t eat the beans at any point. It comes from Greece, when they used beans as a voting method in councils. Each member would be given a white bean and a black bean, and would discreetly drop their yea or nay bean into a vessel. The actual count would be done by an official, but sometimes a voter would accidently knock over the jar–thus spilling the beans and revealing the way the vote was leaning.
you don’t know beans: to have a lack of common sense or knowledge. I love this one: it is based on an old riddle used at many country stores once upon a time. The question is–how many blue beans does it take to get seven white beans? It takes seven, for if you peel the blue beans you will end up with white. If you didn’t know that out in the country, you had a definite lack of common knowledge. As a farmer ( I farmed with my Dad for 15 or more years), I guess I must have no common sense because it didn’t occur to me that one could peel the beans!
sandwich: perhaps not an actual cliche, but an interesting history of one of our favorite foods. There was once an Earl of Sandwich (no, really) in 1748 who loved to gamble. As he didn’t have time for formal meals in between his games, he ordered his servants to prepare him a slice of beef between two pieces of bread: and a world over favorite was born!
bring home the bacon: to bring home a salary or money to pay the bills. While many people probably thinks this means the ability to bring home money to buy the bacon (and there was an American commercial in the 80s–70s?–that used that premise); that is actually not the truth. It was based on the the prize money from fairs when one managed to catch the greased pig. As they had to catch the dang pig, the resultant $ brought home was “bringing home the bacon.”
Ok, that’s enough. I’m going to get some food!