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Vietnamese proverbs related to food and eating that you shoud know

  • 23/11/2019

To sustain life, eating has always been the number one priority. However, the concept and eating habits of people on this regard are completely diverse, and no one’s is alike to others. For Vietnamese people, eating is even more essential, due to their lifestyle formed through thousands of years of agricultural civilization. Because "An empty stomach has no ears", it is so important that "Even the lightning strike has to avoid meals".

Whatsup Vietnam is interested in introducing to you some popular proverbs in Vietnamese culinary culture. 

Some Vietnamese idioms reflecting the sex-is-eating mapping:

  1. Ông ăn chả, bà ăn nem ("He has meatball, she has springrolls"). This means both husband and wife have secret lovers.

  2. Chán cơm thèm phở ("Inappetence of rice, desire of noodle"). This refers to a man getting bored of his wife and finding another woman.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho phở việt nam

Some proverbs talking about people eating habits: 

  1. Ăn trông nồi, ngồi trông hướng ("Checking the status of the rice pot when eating, watch where/what direction you are sitting.") 

This proverb means that we have to be careful of possible faux pas. As an Asian culture, Vietnam has always put a high focus on the proper gestures and behaviors of people. 

  1. Ăn theo thuở, ở theo thì:  living in accordance to one's limit and social circumstance

This refers to the necessity of learning how to flexibly adapt to the changing living environment. 

  1. Đời cha ăn mặn, đời con khát nước ("The father eats salty food, the children go thirsty."): Bad actions of this generation will later bring bad luck/consequences to descendants.

Buddhism has been an integral part of Vietnamese culture for thousands of years; therefore, the definition of “karma” is fully understood and applied in Vietnamese lives. 

Kết quả hình ảnh cho ẩm thực việt nam

  1. Nhai kĩ no lâu, cày sâu tốt lúa ("Chewing carefully [makes one] feel full longer, ploughing deep is good for the rice") = Careful execution brings better results than hasty actions.

This proverbs highly appreciates the importance of carefulness and patience, which ensures the fruitful outcome for those who are persistent till the end. 

  1. Học ăn, học nói, học gói, học mở ("Learning how to eat, how to speak, how to wrap, how to open") = Everything needs to be learned, even the simplest, start from "how to eat" politely.

- Learning how to eat: learn to be polite and sensitive in eating.

- Learning how to speak: learn to be polite to everyone.

- Learning how to wrap: learn how to save up and not to waste.

- Learning how to open: learn how to express, generous and ready to help others.

- “Learning to wrap and how to open” also means learning to know what to do first, what follows, how to organize the work, package and then open orderly, knowing what comes first and what comes later in your life. In general, it means the subtle ingenuity at work, and the way to treat people treat people properly in everyday life.

(Write by: Quynh Nhi)

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