Mga talinghaga sa kusina

Published August 26, 2021, 9:00 AM

by Sol Vanzi

Food-related figures of speech in Filipino

Food plays a big role in Filipino life. Not surprising, since we normally have five meals a day and consider the dining table the most ideal gathering place for the family and friends. It is but natural, therefore, that food figures in our speech in the most interesting ways.

NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS

“Parang isdang kapak, ang labas ay pilak ngunit ang loob ay burak.” Just like the warning about wolves in sheep’s clothing, this saying uses kapak, a mullet, to alert against devious characters who are the opposite of what they appear to be.

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WEDDING FEAST

Engaged couples were often asked “Kelan ang mahabang dulang?” Literally meaning “When is the long dulang (dining table)?” referring to the wedding feast during which the guests will have the chance to “mamantikaan ang nguso” (Have grease on their snouts), a crude but picturesque description of wedding guests feasting on rich wedding day dishes.

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CHEATED AND COOKED

“Lutong Macao” is generally accepted to mean a victory arrived at by unfair means or by cheating. There is no trace of how this phrase came about and it is used with no reference to any race or ethnic group. It is usually heard during elections and contests that involved the counting of votes.

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RENDERED WELL-DONE

“Ginisa sa sariling mantika” literally means cooking pork in its own fat by slowly simmering over a low fire. Filipinos use the phrase to mean suffering as a result of one’s own actions or fault.

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PICKED UNRIPE

“Hinog sa pilit” translates as forced to ripen. When fruits are consumed this way, they are sour and bitter. The saying advises patience.

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WAITED TOO LONG

“Napanis sa kahihintay” uses the word napanis, which normally describes food that has gone bad after staying uneaten for several days. Describes the feeling of someone who got stood up by a date.

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UNAWARE OF EVENTS

“Natututlog sa pansitan” describes a person who is clueless about events happening around him. Literally, it implies that although he is in the kitchen where pansit is cooking, he gets left out and stays hungry.

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EXTREME POVERTY

“Nagdidildil ng asin” means being extremely poor, so poor that his daily diet is composed of rice and salt.

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PULLING EVERYONE DOWN

“Utak talangka” is crab mentality, pulling others down and climbing over their shoulders in order to get ahead.

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GOBY BRAINS

“Utak biya” refers to people who are not too bright and are just like the biya, which are very easy to catch because they do not swim away from fishermen who try to catch them.

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EVALUATE UNSCALED

“Kaliskisan” really means to remove scales from fish. Old Pinoys use the word to mean investigate thoroughly for worthiness. Used often in connection with suitors and prospective daughters-in-law.

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UNPATRIOTIC SLIME

“Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, ay daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda” is attributed to national hero Jose Rizal. It is as timely now as when he said it more than a century ago.

 
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