Common food phrases and their origins (you might go bananas over this post!)


We’ve all met someone who is just not our cup of tea, right? Then again, there are people we go bananas over!

Wait a minute. What’s with the food lingo? Turns out, there are a lot of common food phrases floating around. For fun, we thought we’d take a look at their meaning and origin. Of course, for our Raw and Natural Health readers, we focused on healthier foods. So let’s take a look.

Common food phrases and their origins

Cup of tea

In the 20th century, a “cup of tea” was synonymous with a favorite friend. The ladies who were on the sitcom, The Golden Girls, for example, we’re each other’s cup of tea, despite Bea Arthur’s frequent eye rolls at Rose (Betty White). Today, the texting people among us might know this better as a way of saying that someone is their “BFF” (Best Friend Forever).

However, in WWII, the cup of tea expression turned negative. Rather than someone or something being a cup of tea, it became a matter of a person “not being [my] cup of tea.” Why? It was said in Hal Boyle’s “Leaves from a War Correspondent’s Notebook” column which noted that Americans say that someone is a pain in the neck, while in England, the preferred phrase is “He’s not my cup of tea.”

Either way, we hope you find yourself surrounded by folks who are your cup of tea. And when you’re drinking it, make it green: studies show its compounds can reduce stroke risk, prevent eye disease and even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about green tea’s benefits here.

Spill the beans

The idea of saying this to explain giving away a secret goes back to ancient Greece. Debates were handled by voting, which was done by placing beans in a jar and tallied. White beans conveyed “yes” while a black one meant “no.” In the event the jar was dropped and a black bean was seen among all the scattered white ones, yup, you guessed it . . . the “no” vote was revealed, hence the phrase.

Voting or not, beans are often considered a superfood since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals and can help lower cholesterol. For more about beans, check out this article, then consider making this vegan chocolate truffle recipe, which is loaded with black beans.

You are what you eat

The phrase originally from Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer, politician and gastronomy expert (is it us, or is that an odd combination? I mean, what would his business card look like?). In 1826 he wrote, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Through the years, his words evolved until many nutritionists embraced the idea that what we eat is directly related to our health. One 1920s ad even said, “Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”

Of course, we are believers in those words. That’s why we’re happy to share recipes like raw burgers and talk about why cabbage is good for us.

Cool as a cucumber

We think cucumber’s are great sliced in a salad and when we’ve stayed up too late the night before, they work wonders to soothe tired eyes. But what’s so cool and calm about them that makes this a common phrase? Apparently it goes back to the fact that the inside of a cucumber is up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside. So, this is all about being cool on the inside even though things around us are getting pretty heated.

Go bananas

If someone is going bananas or bananas over someone, they’re just wild and crazy about the situation. Why bananas? This one points to the fact that when apes are fed bananas, they get super excited. The phrase is also thought to go back to Indonesian natives who acted wild after getting drunk from a fermented banana drink named, “Tonto.”

If bananas are your cup of tea, that’s a good thing since they’re a healthy source of potassium. No wonder it’s a common choice for mono-fruiters!

Sources for this article include:

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