Lately, we have been having some really dreary, rainy and foggy weather. In fact, if you have you ever heard the phrase “foggier than split pea soup,” that is indeed what came to mind early yesterday morning when I was heading to work. The weather on these drab kinds of days makes me want to go back home and curl up with a warm bowl of soup and a good book.
But have you ever wondered about the origin of this and so many other food related phrases that we use in everyday life? Why is split pea soup foggy? And what makes a person “crabby”, “ham-handed”, “upper crust”, or a “big cheese?” After taking an easy test in school, you could say “it was a piece of cake,” or when completing a difficult task with ease, one is said to be “cool as a cucumber.”
We use food in so many phrases, idioms and slang in the course of a normal conversation, that you would think that many of us are constantly hungry or planning our next meal (well, that is in fact true for some of us, like myself!).
The use of food in everyday speech is common in many other languages as well. An example in French translates as “amazement is in the almond (amygdala) of the beholder,” and in Italian almost every fruit and vegetable can be used to describe specific personality traits.
By the way, the actual origin for the term “foggier than split pea soup” is a reference to the yellowish fog that commonly hung in the air in the early industrial era in London. This fog was caused by the burning of soft coal that was still being used as a fuel source. The consistency of the fog was likened to that of pea soup, and the phrase stuck long after the passage of the Clean Air Act in the mid 1950s.
Next time you find yourself using a phrase involving food, perhaps it’s a sign that your subconscious is speaking to you. You can even use it as inspiration for cooking your next meal. I am planning on making a delicious and easy split pea soup in the crockpot soon. It’s the perfect thing to make while you are finishing the last few chapters of a good novel. This hearty soup can be served with some crusty bread as a meal and is just the thing on a chilly, damp day.
So this week, why not try “eating your words” by cooking the food that comes up in everyday conversation!
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