Food Wisdom and Proverbs around the World

5170jujfMoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_There’s an interesting book that features food wisdom and proverbs from around the world called "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan. The book is about learning to think about eating in a more healthy way.  The sayings are interesting. 

I’ve tried to find some of the non-English sayings in their original languages – sometimes I found additional sayings about Food Wisdom. I’ve included those here.

One saying from the book is a Chinese proverb.  "Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals]."

I couldn’t find the original Chinese saying, but I liked it anyway. (If you know the Chinese version, please share it in the comments below.)

I found these other Chinese food proverbs which I loosely translated:

Shao chi. xiang; duo chi, shang
Eat less = tastier food; eat more = stomachache.

七分飽 (Qi fen bao)
Eat until you’re 70% full (literally 7 parts full)

There’s a Japanese Confucian version of this one:

腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ (Hara hachi bu)
Eat until you’re 80% full.

Here are two more:

多吃蔬菜,少吃肉 (Duō chī shūcài, shǎo chī ròu.)
Eat more vegetables, less  meat.

魚生火,肉生痰,青菜豆腐保平安 (Yú shēnghuǒ, ròu shēng tán, qīngcài dòufu bǎo píng’ān.)
Fish = heat, meat = phlegm, vegetables and tofu = security and peace.

Another saying from the book was: "Don’t overlook the oily fishes."

Besides being good advice, it seems to be inspired from the following Dutch Proverb:

Haring in het land, dokter aan de kant.’ 
Herring comes into the country, doctor goes out.

Which is reminiscent of the English, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

I found another Dutch proverb about fish that I liked:

Een goeie vis moet drie keer zwemmen
A good fish should swim three times (i.e. In the water, in the butter and in the wine).

Then there’s the following Arabic proverb, which is also known in English:

تناول وجبة الفطور كأنه ملك، والغداء كالأمير، والعشاء مثل شحاذ

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.

This one makes sense to me.  It seems unwise to go to bed full. Plus, a recent study said you burn more calories after a morning meal than an evening meal.

There’s a similar one that means the same thing:

"Eat breakfast alone, share lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to your enemy."

Meaning breakfast is your most important meal.

The saying exists in Persian too as follows:

صبحانه را تنها بخور، ناهار را با دوستت و شام را به دشمنت بده

Fatima wrote from Iran, "But in our Islamic and Eastern Culture we have a lot of advice from Imams and old Islamic scientists that emphasizes eating dinner – a light and healthy dish after sunset.

The saying is like this: "The origin of the destruction of the body is the removal of dinner."

This is the saying in Arabic:

أصل خراب البدن ترك العشاء

Finally, there’s the saying "Eat to live, not live to eat."

Your life shouldn’t be about gluttony. Yet, eating is one of the joys of life.  Charles Schultz said it well….

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Feel free to share any Food Wisdom, Sayings or Proverbs that you’ve heard or grew up with in the comments below.

Many thanks to Fatima Baji for sharing the Arabic and Persian sayings about food.

Bon appetit!

Mama Lisa

Link: More Chinese Food Sayings

This article was posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 7:14 pm and is filed under Arabic, Books & Stories, China, Chinese, Countries & Cultures, Dutch, Egypt, Food Wisdom, Food Wisdom, Japan, Japanese, Languages, Netherlands, Proverbs, Saudi Arabia, Sayings, Sayings about Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “Food Wisdom and Proverbs around the World”

  1. More Proverbs about Eating in French and Spanish Says:

    […] are many proverbs around the world about eating well.  There are other proverbs about making sure you eat when you have the chance.  For […]

  2. Lisa Says:

    There’s a saying in English that carrots will make your eyesight better.

    Monique sent a similar one in French:

    Les carottes éclaircissent la vue. La preuve: on n’a jamais vu un lapin porter des lunettes!
    (Carrots clear up your vision. The proof: Nobody ever saw a rabbit wearing glasses.)

  3. Lisa Says:

    There are two more well-known proverbs about eating…

    “You are what you eat.” It comes from the German proverb, “Mann ist was Mann isst” (Man is what man eats.)

    “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” (A conflation of two sayings from the Bible.)

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