Nine Spanish foody expressions that don’t mean what you think

Spaniards love food, and even when they're not eating or talking about it, the chances are they're using it to describe something else. Here's the lowdown on the most amusing foody expressions in Spanish.

Nine Spanish foody expressions that don't mean what you think
You'll hear the word "huevo" (egg) mixed up a lot in Spain, even when nobody is talking about food. Photo: Alexa's Photos/Pixabay

If you hear someone talking abount caring about cucumbers or complaining about bad milk, it’s highly possible they are not actually talking about food.

Here are nine of our favourite expressions that use food to talk about something completely different.

Es del año de la pera (literal translation: it is from the year of the pear)

Photo: dolorvspw/Depositphotos

This is used to refer to old objects, especially when something is so old that you can’t remember when you got it. In English, phrases like ‘donkey’s years’ would be comparable.

Estar más bueno/Buena que el pan (literal translation: to be better than bread)

Photo: Philippe Ramakers/Pixabay

This is a great way to talk about someone being attractive or beautiful. So if someone says you’re better than bread they’re complimenting you for your appearance. If they use ser rather than estar  they’re more likely to be referring to a person’s noble character.

Estar de mala leche (literal translation: to be of bad milk)

Photo: stetsik/Depositphotos

Milk is used for tonnes of phrases in Spanish. ‘To be of bad milk’ means you’re in a bad mood and it’s not only usually a temporary state of mind rather than being permanently grumpy.

READ ALSO: Five ways that ‘leche’ means more than just ‘milk’ in Spain

Hay un huevo de gente (literal translation: There are an egg of people)

Un huevo is used in Spanish to say there’s a lot of something, similar to mucho/mucha. The number of eggs never changes – it’s always one egg (un huevo), so if you want to say you like something a lot you say me gusta un huevo, or if there are fifty cars stuck in a traffic jam you also say un huevo de coches

 Photo: Alexa’s Photos/Pixabay

Ser salado (literal translation: to be salty)

In Castillian Spanish, the adjective salado can be used to describe a person who is amusing or charming.

Photo:Quang Nguyen vinh/Pixabay

Me importa un pepino (literal translation: I care a cucumber)

Photo: spaxiax/Depositphotos


When you really don’t care for something someone is saying, you can say you ‘care a cucumber’ as in Spanish it means that you simply don’t give a damn.

Vete a freir espárragos (literal translation: go fry asparagus)

Photo: sukr13/Depositphotos

This is a rather odd but commonly used way of telling someone to go away or to leave you alone. A good English equivalent would be telling someone to ‘get lost’.

Estar como un flan (literal translation: to be like an egg custard)

Photo: RitaE/Pixabay

Spanish speakers use this expression whenever they are nervous about something, like an exam, a presentation or an event. It basically means to be a nervous wreck. Ser un flan is a colloquial way of saying that you’re shaking like a leaf.

Ser mi media naranja (literal translation: to be my half orange)

If you refer to someone as your media naranja in Spain, it means you consider that person to be your soulmate or better half. It’s not quite the same as saying two peas in a pod as media naranja applies in the romantic sense only.

Photo: gate74/Pixabay

This list was compiled by LAE Madrid , a Spanish academy in Madrid that is accredited by the Insitituto Cervantes. It offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and families.To see more phrases with food, check out LAE Madrid’s Facebook Live Spanish classes on YouTube.


These are Spain’s new Michelin-starred restaurants

The new 2023 Michelin Star guide for the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal has awarded new stars to 34 restaurants across Spain. Read on to discover which ones and where they are.

These are Spain's new Michelin-starred restaurants

En España se come bien (People eat well in Spain), you’ll hear many Spaniards proclaim. That’s coming from a country that’s not accustomed to singing its own praises on the global stage. 

Although these higher-than-average gastronomic standards apply to all types of bars and restaurants, when it comes to haute cuisine, Spain continues to be among the top five countries with the most Michelin-starred eateries, together with France, Japan, Italy and Germany.

On Tuesday November 22nd, Michelin revealed its newest restaurant selection of acclaimed Spanish restaurants during an event in the Spanish city of Toledo.

As of November 2022, two restaurants in Spain have been awarded the coveted three Michelin Star distinction.

Three have gone up to the two-star category and 29 restaurants have been given new one-star rankings.

Atrio in Cáceres (Extremadura region in western Spain) and Cocina Hermanos Torres in Barcelona have both earned the top award three-star prize, which is the highest award that can be given, and have joined the 13 other restaurants in Spain at this level.

According to the judges, Atrio won the distinction due to “its elegant and delicate dishes, prepared by chef Toño Pérez, who has shaken up local gastronomic traditions”. His menu focuses on Iberian pork and other products from Extremadura.

While in Barcelona, Cocina Hermanos Torres has been given the top award for “firing the imagination with every bite”. Chefs Sergio and Javier Torres have created “a magical space in which the gastronomic experience consistently seeks out the very best seasonal produce and exceeds foodies’ expectations, turning it into a dining extravaganza,” the judges said.

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Spain’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants

Of the 2023 guide, International Director of Michelin Gwendal Poullennec said: “We were delighted to see how younger chefs are taking the lead and embarking on their own journeys, in many cases flying the flag of reinterpreted regional or fusion cuisines”.

“In turn, vegan options are gradually forging ahead on menus, something which was already occurring in other European countries,” he added. 

Below are the Spanish rankings for the 2023 guide, including the three stars awarded to Atrio and Cocina Hermanos Torres. 

Two stars

  • Deessa, Madrid
  • El Rincón de Juan Carlos, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Pepe Vieira, Serpe, Pontevedra

One star

  • Ababol, Albacete
  • Ajonegro, Logroño
  • Aleia, Barcelona
  • AlmaMater, Murcia
  • Alquimia-Laboratorio, Valladolid
  • Ancestral, Illescas
  • Arrea!, Santa Cruz de Campezo
  • Ceibe, Ourense
  • Cobo Evolución, Burgos
  • Código de Barra, Cádiz
  • Come, Barcelona
  • Enigma, Barcelona
  • Etxeko Ibiza, Es Canar, Ibiza
  • Ferpel, Ortiguera
  • Fusión19, Muro, Mallorca
  • Gente Rara, Zaragoza
  • Kaleja, Málaga
  • La Finca, Loja
  • Mont Bar, Barcelona
  • Monte, San Feliz
  • Montia, San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Oba, Casas-Ibáñez
  • O’Pazo, Padrón
  • Ravioxo, Madrid
  • San-Hô, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Slow & Low, Barcelona
  • Tabaiba, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Ugo Chan, Madrid
  • Zuara Sushi, Madrid

The Michelin Guide also handed out special awards to three different chefs.

The Young Chef Award for 2023 went to Almería-born chef Cristóbal Muñoz, who at age 31, heads up the kitchens at Ambivium in Peñafiel, Castilla y León.

The Chef Mentor Award for 2023 was given to a well-known name in the world of Spanish gastronomy – Joan Roca, who together with his brothers turned El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, Catalonia into one of the best and most famous restaurants in the world.

Finally, the Michelin Service Award for 2023 was presented to Toni Gerez from Castell de Peralada, also in Catalonia. As the restaurant manager and sommelier, he “excels in customer-facing roles, in particular, when presenting his marvellous cheese cart that goes from table to table,” explained the judges.

In total, the 2023 Guide lists 1,401 restaurants throughout Spain, Portugal and Andorra. Out of these, 13 have three Michelin Stars, 41 have two Michelin Stars and 235 were awarded one Michelin Star.