Everyone knows that every child has some dishes they don’t particularly like, right? When I was little, for example, I didn’t really like certain fish, liver, bresaola, tripe, vegetables or cheese (these last two with some very few exceptions).
Now, I could live without eating liver or bresaola but, as you know, vegetables are super important for a healthy diet. So, I let you imagine the tricks my mom and grandmom had to resort to to make me eat vegetables! The one that worked the most was to combine many ingredients so as I couldn’t perceive anymore the flavor of the vegetables I didn’t like.
However, there was a particular dish that my family used to cook back then and expected me to eat without throwing any tantrum even if I didn’t like it much: la minestra. La minestra is a type of soup made with broth, pieces of different vegetables, and rice or pasta. Imagine my joy when I set down for dinner super hungry and expecting something really delicious, and my mother put a plate of hot minestra in front of me. Of course, I had to say something to complain. Usually it was something like “Nooo! La minestra!” or a classier “Bleah! La minestra!” – Bleah = Yuck. I know, I was terrible. Back then I didn’t realize how lucky I was, but that’s part of being children, isn’t it?
Anyway, when I complained about minestra – or any other dish I didn’t like – my mother or grandma, according to whoever prepared it, used to say to me some sentences. So, today I’d like to share with you five common Italian expressions you can use when your child doesn’t want to eat a particular dish. All of them convey the exact same meaning, have you already guessed which one?
Questo è quello che passa il convento
This expression literally means “this is what the convent gives you”. And of course, it means “I prepared this and this is what you’re going to eat. Either you eat this or you don’t eat at all!”.
O prendere o lasciare
This Italian expression literally means “take it or leave it” and, again, in this context it conveys the message: either you eat this or you’ll eat nothing.
Mangia la minestra o salta dalla finestra
This Italian expression literally means “eat this soup or jump from the window”. The meaning of this idiomatic expression is that you’d better do something unpleasant to avoid experiencing something even more unpleasant.
Sette anni di guerra ci vorrebbero!
This was one of my grandma’s favorites. It means “you should experience 7 years of war”. She was right, as always. She lived the period of the second world war and knew a thing or two about scarcity of food, life difficulties, and definitely knew how lucky we kids were!
O così o pomì
I left this at the end of the list because its origins are peculiar. This Italian expression was part of a commercial aired on tv in 1982 about a tomato sauce called, of course, Pomì. The commercial, that literally means “Or this way or pomì”, conveyed the idea that the tomato sauce Pomì was the best, so when you went to supermarket and wanted to buy tomato sauce you had just one option: Pomì.
The slogan was so appreciated by Italians that they kept using it to say that either you do/eat this or you do/eat this. In short, you’ve got no other choice.
What’s your favorite among these Italian expressions? What did your mother tell you when you complained about food?
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Original image by tookapic