American Idiom

Related to cooking and kitchen preparation

  • I was stewing
    (1) I was thinking some things over, waiting for an idea to emerge. This phrase makes me think of Emeril putting a lid on a pot, saying he’s giving the ingredients time to “get married”… to mingle together and become unified.
    (2) to brood on something too long, like steeping tea until it is bitter.
  • Related to: to stew in your own juice
    to sit in a mess of your own making
  • Now you’re cooking with gas!
    Now you’re doing really well/ now you’ve gotten going!

Related to digestion

  • Let me digest this/ I need to digest this
    Suggests a process of breaking something down, presumably into more understandable parts

Related to ingestion

  • to devour a book
    to read rapaciously, as though hungry or greedy
  • to eat your words
    To take back what you said.
  • to eat crow/ to eat humble pie
    To admit that you were wrong.

Related to ingredients and foodstuffs


  • Get to the meat of the matter
    Get to the point, get to the real meaning. Meaning is often referred to a meat.
  • Pork barrel projects
    The term pork barrel politics usually refers to spending which is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes.


  • Butter wouldn’t melt in his/her mouth
    He or she appears to be so sweet and innocent.
  • bread and butter
    Livelihood, basic needs, or income. “We do sell some teas, but coffee products are our bread-and-butter.”
  • butter-and-egg man
    a man who worked with the butter and egg commodity markets in the early 20th century, when those products were high-dollar items.

Fruits, vegetables, and nuts

  • to go nutting, to nut someone
    This is not solely an American idiom, but it has some interesting uses. Generally to go nutting is to go forth and gather nuts. But it was also used in the 17th century  to refer to the action of currying favor (he is just nutting you by dropping all those compliments); in 20th century Britain to mean a hard knock to the head, usually with another head (nutting is not allowed in the boxing match; fists only);  and occasionally, in 20th century Australia to mean thinking hard (I did a bit of hard nutting).

Related to mastication

  • to ruminate
    To mull over. This is not exactly an idiom, but I use it all the time… and I giggle whenever I see cattle referred to as ruminants, because it makes them sound thoughtful. But the root means to chew.

Related to nausea/regurgitation

  • to regurgitate (on a test)
    Several of my high school teachers were fond of using this gross phrase when they wanted us to repeat precisely what we’d been told.

Related to utensils and other tableside preparation 

  • What else is on the menu?
    When my chair said this, he was asking for a chapter outline; he wanted to see all the books I intend to analyze and the ideas I am using the frame them. My prix fixe, so to speak. But this phrase could also be used to request what else I have on offer. If a novel seems to incorporate conventions from romance, mystery, and sci fi genres, I might say that novel has all those things on the menu.
  • to butter up
    to sweet-talk someone, to compliment them in order to make things go smoother
  • to know which side your bread is buttered on
    to know that your allegiance is to the person who benefits you
  • I could sop you up with a biscuit
    You are so sweet, or adorable, or something very good that should be enjoyed completely. Possibly regional.
  • I could eat you up with a spoon
    See above

Related to meals or dining rituals

  • a moveable feast
    A religious feast day which, though always on the same day of the week, does not occur on the same calendar date each year–Easter is the most notable example. Figuratively, it may apply to anything which may appear, occur, etc., at varying times or dates. Ernest Hemingway once said that happiness was a moveable feast, and the term became the title of his memoir of Paris.

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