1. Chamar-lhe um figo. (Call it a fig.)

You can never eat just one fig.You can use this whenever you’re referring to pleasure, whether its stealing, making the most of something, eating something, etc. If you don’t want the rest of that delicious Bacalhau com Natas, give it to me and I will call it a fig. You don’t want those tickets for Rock in Rio? Not a problem, I will call it a fig too.

2. Quem come a carne que roa os ossos. (Who eats the meat, gnaws the bones.)

Back in our grandparents’ time, this was often used when a boy innocently started kissing a girl and things heated up for the first time. Then, if he was man enough to start things off, he would be asked to man up and live to the new responsibilities. Nowadays, if you start something, take it to the end.

3. Com papas e bolos se enganam os tolos. (With porridge and cakes you fool the fools.)

How can we fool you with cakes? By offering them first and making sure your belly is full before the main course arrives. In another words, you will be fooled by what is offered first.

4. Uns comem os figos, e a outros rebenta-lhes a boca. (Some eat figs, and others have their mouths burst.)

For those who spend an afternoon eating fresh figs off a tree know that moment when we can taste nothing else but the numbness of our taste buds. What if you had the privilege of eating as many figs as you want and have someone else feel the consequences?

5. Cada um puxa a brasa à sua sardinha. (Each one pulls the coal under its sardine.)

The smell of the charcoaled sardines (or mackerel) always makes our mouths water, especially in the summer. To make sure the sardine is delicious, you must have hot coal burning slowly, adding to the deliciousness of the juicy sardine. But doing so in daily life without a barbeque around means you are looking after your own interests.

6. O que não mata, engorda. (What doesn’t kill you fattens you up.)

Do you remember when you used to tell your parents you didn’t like the peas on your place, and they let you get away with not eating them? Well in Portugal, peas will not kill you so eat up. After all, what does not kill you, makes you stronger.

7. Guarda que comer, não guardas que fazer. (Save something to eat, don’t save something to do.)

Otherwise tomorrow you might have lots to do, but nothing to eat.

8. Onde se ganha o pão, não se come carne. (Where you earn your bread, and you don’t eat meat.)

It’s better to keep certain things separate.

9. É de pequenino que se torce o pepino. (It’s when it’s small that the cucumber is bent.)

Learn good habits while you’re young.

10. Vai à fava. (Go to the broad bean.)

Back in the when day people used black and white broad beans to vote, “mandar à fava” meant “stop arguing and vote on it.” But somehow, although the votes have now been cancelled, it is still used regularly to stop arguments and tell others to bugger off.

11. Tão ladrão é o que vai à horta como o que fica à porta. (A thief is the one that goes to the food garden, as well as the one who stays by the door.)

Just stay off the neighbour’s food garden and you will be fine.

12. Não há fome que não de em fartura. (There is no hunger that does not lead to abundance.)

If you are hungry today, you will make sure you will not be hungry tomorrow.

13. Em casa deste “home”, quem não trabalha, não come. (In this man’s house, who doesnt work, doesn’t eat.)

Or “quem não trabuca, não manduca.”

14. A mulher e a sardinha querem-se da mais pequenina. (With a woman and a sardine, you want the smallest one.)

It’s an easy pick really. What sardine is the juiciest and tastiest of the lot?

15. Cabeça de alho chocho. (Head of rotten garlic.)

You’re probably wondering how can be a person be compared to a head of rotten garlic, that’s just “silly” isn’t it?

16. Casa que não há pão, todos ralham e ninguém tem razão. (In a house without bread, everyone shouts and no one is right.)

When the essential things are missing, everyone is upset and everything is a reason to argue.

17. Tens mais olhos do que barriga. (You have more eyes than belly.)

We have two eyes and one belly, but that doesn’t mean we should fill our plates with more than we need.

18. Nunca digas desta água não beberei — e deste pão nunca comerei. (Never say from this water I will never drink – and from this bread I will never eat.)

Mainly because you will never know how hungry or thirsty you will be in the future. Never think you are free from what you judge in others.

19. Grão a grão enche a galinha o papo. (Grain by grain the hen fills her belly.)

And in the same way, with perseverance and small step we fill our bellies with too.

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