And it reminded me of another, "too many cooks spoil the broth." And then another came to mind; you know, the one that says "the more chefs, the better the soup."
I started digging and I found pages of words to live by from every corner of the world. Nothing is more basic nourishment than soup, and nothing nourishes the expression of basic truths like soup metaphors, so it seems! In the following proverbs, soup becomes a vehicle to drive home, often with emotional intensity, at other times with wry detachment, lessons learned from collective experience. These are some of my favorites:
Drink a glass of wine after your soup and you steal a ruble from the doctor. (Russian)
Of soup and love, the first is best. (English, Spanish, Portuguese, etc...)
Between the hand and mouth, the soup is spilt. (Italian and others)
Beauty does not season soup. (Polish and Russian)
You can't sup soup with a fork. (German, Irish, etc.)
Often you'll find the same sentiment, but the expression is culturally specific:
Troubles are easier to take with soup than without. (Yiddish)
Headaches need soup. (Sicilian)
And then you come across the proverbs so arch you can't but smile, even if the sayings come from the bitterest of places:
The less soup, the more spoons. (Malawian)
In your neighbors soup, there's always one fatty morsel. (Persian)
Soup must be hot, insults cold. (Spanish)
If it were ever to rain soup, the poor would only have forks. (Brazilian)
One who has been burned by the soup learns to blow on the yoghurt. (Arab)
Better no soup than no spoon. (German)
A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a learned fool the taste of wisdom. (Welsh)
One bee makes no honey, one grain makes no rice soup. (Chinese)
He's not an honest man who burns his mouth on soup and doesn't tell his guest. (Italian)
Last but not least, a few from Nigeria, a land whose Igbo people have proverbs and idioms for everything. Their language, with over a million proverbs and sayings, is one of the richest for linguistic color. Here are a very few, all refer to soup:
- The chicken always blames the soup pot for his tragic circumstances, not the one who slit his throat.
- When the soup is unpalatable, and the yam paste that goes in it is not smooth, then its time to know a man who likes pounded yam.
- If a man makes soup of tears, ask him not for the broth.
- He who eats the egg forgoes the future chicken soup.
- Chickens don't praise their own soup.
- If the soup is sweet, it is money that cooks it.