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"Better to have given birth to a piece of BBQ pork than you!", "I'd sell my wife to eat fatty winter yellow tail", any other wacky worldy expressions about food?

Some of the older generation folk in Hong Kong voiced their disappointment at their misbehaving kids that caused them so much grief. They would say something like "生舊叉燒好過生你", which would translate to, "better to have given birth to a piece of cha siu/bbq pork than you!". BBQ pork is one of those representative delicious things that everyone craved so much in the old times (bbq pork over rice was one of the definitive comfort foods) and some of the older folk may remember the days when bbq pork was peddeled off a push cart, the grilled meats dangling so much to the point that the bigger pieces would literally scrape the ground.

Also I read somewhere that there's an old saying in Japanese, basically about the winter season of buri (or kanburi) which is a yellowtail variant. Something about "even if you have to sell your wife, you must have a taste of winter buri". Or maybe it was about some other fish.

What other funny wordly expressions are there that involve food?

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  1. In Malaysia they often say "when the durian comes down, the sarongs go up) (Durian is reckoned a powerful aphrodesiac)

    In parts of south east asia when a legal case is really drawing out, they say "It's going ill for the dogs) since dog is often traditionally served at negotiation meals.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jumpingmonk

      Actually, that's not 100% accurate. Durians are expensive, and people sold their sarongs so that they could have money to by it.

    2. I just found another variant of one most Asians have heard before

      食唔清 D 飯會娶個豆皮老婆

      meaning that if you do not finish the rice in your bowl, you will marry a pock marked face wife.

      To which the smart 21st century child might remark...."well dad licks his bowl clean. Then mom why is your face ........?"

      1 Reply
      1. re: K K

        these are great. wish i had some to add....
        jumpingmonk: durian would NOT be making my sarong go up, but instead incite me to wrap it around my mouth so none would get in! stinky poopy stuff - i guess you have to grow up with it!

      2. funny and interesting topic.

        there is a japanese saying: do not let the daughter in law eat autumn eggplants.

        now there are two different stories to it.
        one is because autumn eggplants are so tasty, mother in law did not want her daughter in law to eat.
        the other one is eggplants make your body cool down (it is true) and it is not good for young women who were expecting to have babies so mother in law did not allow them to eat.

        btw, today happens to be the moon watching night.
        in japan they eat rice cake because the two rabbits on the moon are making the rice cake. cute, right?

        1. "Tequila makes her clothes (or sarong) fall off." Amazing stuff, that tequila

          3 Replies
          1. re: BiscuitBoy

            Well, on the flip side, there's "beer goggling!"

            And quite frankly, who are these people who refer to desserts as "better than sex"--I kinda feel sorry for them...and you know I love dessert. ;)

            1. re: kattyeyes

              One of my father's bon mots, from the days when ladies drank only clear spirits: he called gin "pant remover".

          2. The retorts I've heard to "better to have given birth to a piece of bbq pork than you!" include..."well mom that means you admit that you're a pig!".

            Here's another one I found


            It's basically another way of an older generation Chinese Cantonese parent yelling at a kid, that translates to "I've eaten more salt than you have eaten rice!", meaning the parent says he or she has it worse than the kid and has been through life a lot more (in a way degrading the child's intelligence). The retort for that I've read is something like "yeah mom you're right, but we live in an age of MSG, so I've eaten more MSG than you have eaten salt!"

            2 Replies
            1. re: K K

              I think that's not fully accurate. The term is used to mean seniority and experience, not that one had it worse. It's sort of saying that "I've been around way longer such that I've eaten more meals that you have, to the extent of more salt than rice."

              1. re: K K

                Old coot to young whippersnapper: I've done/had/seen more [x] than you've had hot dinners.

              2. Today's the day they give babies away
                with 100 pound bags of potatoes

                Gentle and true near slumber-land

                1 Reply
                1. re: wew

                  I heard one similar to wew's:
                  Oh THIS is the day they give BABIES away
                  with half
                  a pound
                  of tea.

                2. My absolute favorite is Turkish: " It looks so good, I don't want to eat it, I want to lie down beside it" (the PG version of the saying).
                  Was musing that you don't hear the expression about a foolish person: "doesn't know beans when the bag's open" or just "doesn't know beans" these days.

                  1. My mom would sometimes describe the intelligence or behavior of a person by saying they were as smart as (or behaved like) "the part of the chicken that goes under the fence last." Even as kids we knew what that meant.

                    And of course, we had to clean our plates, due to all the starving children in China. I never understood how my cleaning my plate helped them. (And, no, you dared not question that to Mom!!!)

                    1. Back in Mississippi, a similar statement was, "I'd rather have given birth to a rabid possum (opossum to many), than to you." Not sure how that would translate to Chinese.


                      1. I've posted this before on another board, but since it's the actual topic here - will repost.

                        I grew up hearing "It ain't what you want, it's what you get that makes you fat".
                        My people are Missouri hillbilllys (we do not consider that a derogatory term). The only other place I have heard something resembling that was in a book of transcribed oral accounts from people who were slaves in the US (from the Writers Project).
                        The ex-slave said "It ain't what you want it's what you get that makes your belly pooch out". A little different.
                        When I brought it up on the other thread, I speculated if it might also have been uttered in relation to unwanted pregnancy... Sam Fujiyaka (think I have that right) said more likely intestinal worms, LOL!
                        But I remember how much I hated that saying as it meant that I was not going to get what I wanted. And how nice it was years later to quote it to my own kids. Heh heh.

                        1. My MIL used to say that her mother used to "make fried green tomatoes so good they'd make you slap your pappy."
                          Then there's always, "Ow can you 'ave any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

                          1. Another Chinese expression - "pangzi bu shi yi kou chi de" - you don't get fat from a single bite. To be uttered when someone is saying they really shouldn't eat one more bite of something delicious.

                            1. How about, "I didn't just fall off the turnip truck.", when someone tries to pull one over you or...
                              "A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat."

                              1. Some little explanations first: In Australia, "bikkie" is slang for biscuit, which is what our American friends would call a cookie. Busted, or "busted in" in this case, is broken. A wallaby is like a little kanagroo.

                                Now for the sayings:

                                An unattractive person might be referred to here as having a face like "a busted in bikkie tin" or a "half chewed wallaby" or a "half sucked aspirin".

                                If you are super busy you might say you are "flat out like a lizard drinking"

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: AussieBeth

                                  Love the lizard.
                                  Canadian for "busted-in bikkie tin": A face like a dog's breakfast.

                                  1. re: AussieBeth

                                    A half-sucked aspirin..that's hysterical!
                                    And in the US....some may call that "butter face".

                                    1. re: VeggieHead

                                      Yeah, but a "butterface" is more than a person who is unattractive. It's a person with a nice body and unattractive face (usually female).

                                  2. What about the saying, "Pizza is like sex. Even when it's not great, it's still pretty good."

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: Whinerdiner

                                      Not famous, but oft-said, and prolly by more than my parents:
                                      "Eat your dinner; there are starving children in China."
                                      At the age of four I attempted to dump my dinner in a Manila envelope so mom could mail it on out to those poor kids. I'm sure that meatloaf would've been outstanding after 3 months in ground freight.

                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        Canadian moms did the same thing, during WWII it was apparently "in Europe", in my time, Asia and Africa. Sad commentart when you think about it, futile as the imprecation was.

                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          Ha Ha Mamachef. When I was a kid, I put half a tuna fish sandwich down the mail slot in the hallway of our high rise apartment building. I was so proud of myself for sending part of my lunch to the children starving in China. The super didn't quite see it that way.

                                          1. re: Whinerdiner

                                            oy Oy OY! I BET the super didn't quite find it amusing!
                                            Back in the radical era (I don't know how old you are, hence the reference; I'm not trying to dumb down) there was a Yippee named Abbie Hoffman who recommended, as an anarchistic act, renting a safety-deposit box in a false name, "depositing" a fish, and thereby investing in the Stank of America.

                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              I'm 47. When I was in my 20's, I worked for a bank. A disgruntled customer did put a fish in his safety deposit box. What a mess.

                                              1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                Just goes to show ya, Wd: for every extra-stupid piece of advice, there's some yahoo out there who'll take it. Gawd.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Bt, I never thought I'd hear that song again! I love it! Do you get the same klezmer vibe from it that I hear? ; )

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      Makes the Mama wanna do a fast Mazurka.

                                        2. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
                                          Revenge is sweet.

                                          Revenge is ICE CREAM !!

                                          1. A man goes into a pet store. "I'd like to get a parrot for my wife". Pet store owner: "We don't do trades".

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                              This is a "wacky worldy expression about food"?

                                              Nope. It's a joke.

                                            2. Dan Jenkins in "Dead Solid Perfect"... She was hotter than a half-chewed jalapeno chili pepper.

                                              After about 30 years,that still makes me smile.