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Hungry, peckish, stuffed: 15 French phrases to do with food and eating

'Eat like a bird' or 'stuff your face'? You will need these phrases to talk about one of the most important subjects in France - food

‘Je me régale’ means you are really enjoying the meal Pic: Roman Samborskyi

1/ Avoir un petit creux (literally to have a small hollow)

This means that a part of your stomach is empty. The expression is generally used when you crave a little something.

2/ Se régaler (to enjoy the meal)

You can say ‘c’est un régal’ about a meal which is very good but also say ‘je me régale’ meaning you are really enjoying the meal.

3/ Être repu / rassasié (to be sated)

This means to have eaten enough and that you are full.

4/ Faire bombance

This means to have a feast. It is the synonym of an old expression ‘faire ripaille’ which is not used anymore but came from the old French ‘riper’ (to scratch).

It used to refer to soldiers who were eating at other people’s houses as they would not leave anything on their plate. It then evolved in the 19th century to refer to big feasts.   

5/ Manger comme un ogre (to eat like an ogre)

To eat a lot. An ogre is known to be tall and fat and to eat a lot.

6/ À ravir les papilles (to please the taste buds)

If a meal is ‘à ravir les papilles’, it is a delight.

7/ Avoir la peau du ventre bien tendue (literally to have tight belly skin)

This means that you have eaten very well and your belly is full.

8/ Avoir les crocs / la dalle  (to have the fangs / the throat)

To be starving. These are recent and colloquial expressions but it is said that ‘avoir la dalle’ comes from the fact dalle used to refer to the throat.

In the 14th century the expression ‘avoir la dalle en pente’ (to have a sloping or inclined throat) meant to drink often and a lot of alcohol.

In the 19th century ‘avoir la dalle’ meant to have a big appetite. Today it means to be very hungry.

9/ Se goinfrer (to stuff yourself with food, to stuff your face)

This means to eat food quickly and lots of it.

10/ Manger comme un moineau (to eat like a sparrow)

As birds don’t eat a lot, this means to have a small appetite. In English we say 'to eat like a bird'

11/ Manger sur le pouce (literally to eat on the thumb)

You eat on the thumb when you eat something 'on the go' like a sandwich.

12/ À la bonne franquette (without ceremony)

This expression is used to speak about a simple, informal meal.

13/ Un cordon bleu (literally - a blue cord)

You can say that someone is a cordon bleu when he/she cooks very well.

Cordon Bleu used to be the highest distinction in France before being replaced by the Légion d’honneur. This expression was thus a shortcut to speak about the most gifted person in a field.

14/ Qui dort dine (the one who sleeps has dinner)

This means that if you sleep, you will not be hungry. Sleeping makes you forget about the food. There are several theories about the origin of this expression and some say it dates back to Middle Age when travellers sleeping at an inn had to eat there.

15/ Miam

The French way to say yummy.

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