Not too sweet, very sweet, from oats to barley… We often use random foods in our statements. Or are they not that random after all? The Culy editors went to investigate.
We had to bite through the sour apple, but then you also have something. (Sorry, dude.)
Know what you’re saying (when you talk about food)
Did you know that ants have real sweet tooths? We are not necessarily talking about cookies and cakes , but about honeydew. This is a sweet substance that is secreted by, among other things, aphids, which first suck the sugars from plants. Very sweet (= very sweet) therefore comes from the preference for extreme sweetness that the insects have.
Not to be missed
Although ants are probably also fond of ripe plums , the expression ‘not to plum’ (= very dirty) has very little to do with it. The ‘plum’ in this case is a kind of jargon that has its origins in the military: by prune is meant ‘to tolerate’.
Boontje comes for his wages
Boontje comes for his wages (= you get your deserved punishment) goes way back : it probably comes from a Dutch fairy tale from the 17th century (!), which the Brothers Grimm later wrote down as ‘Strohhalm, Kohle und Bohne’ (straw, cabbage, bean).
In the fairy tale, Boontje starts laughing so hard with glee that his stomach tears open – your own fault, big bump. ‘Komt omt’ in this case therefore means ‘to receive’: he got what he deserved. Fun fact : the fairy tale ended well, because there was a tailor nearby who could sew Boontje’s belly shut again. That is where the black thread that green beans sometimes have comes from.
The term ‘cucumber season’ (= a period with little ‘real news’) arose because the cucumber season originally fell in the summer, during the period when people who did not grow cucumbers had a lot less to do. Nowadays you can find cucumbers all year round in the Netherlands, but ‘cucumber time’ still refers to the quiet summer.
It probably came over from abroad; in German, for example, you have Sauregurkenzeit , which means ‘sour bomb time’. There are even people who say it comes from the English cucumber time , but now there are no traces of it in the English language.
That’s the whole egg food
Originally, ‘that’s eating whole eggs ‘ (= that’s all, that’s what it’s about) just the opposite: ‘that’s not eating eggs’ meant ‘that’s not what it’s about’. However, the exact origin of that older proverb is difficult to pinpoint. Our Language writes that it may have something to do with Easter, when a lot of eggs were eaten.
From oats to barley
Very few people even know what barley is – let alone that the grain did not originally appear in this expression at all. The oats used to be nowhere to be seen either.
‘Knowing from oats to groats’ (= to know something/someone completely) comes from ‘from avere to avere’, which means something like ‘from father to son’. When the word avere disappeared, it corrupted to oats.