Carnival is finished and today is el Miércoles de ceniza (the Ash Wednesday). Many Christian religions celebrate this day as the first one of Cuaresma (Lent), the forty days until the beginning of Semana Santa (Holy Week). During these forty days, Christians should have a time of reflection and purification. One way to do this is el ayuno (the fast). Every Friday until the Holy Week they shouldn’t eat meat. Why meat and no lobsters, caviar or other delicatessen? Well, meat is only a symbol; what they’d really need to do is to eat what is indispensable.
Nowadays, only traditional families and old people respect this rule. However, it was very common one or two generations ago. From Spanishviaskype.com, let us tell you an idea if you want to fast this Lent: pan (bread). It’s a basic foodstuff in the Mediterranean countries and, maybe because of that, it’s also a word that we can find in many proverbs and expressions in Spanish. Let’s see some of them.
1. Al pan, pan y al vino, vino.
Why do we usually complicate things? It’s no necessary to beat around the bush when we explain something that we could do it directly. So, al pan, pan y al vino, vino, call bread, bread and call wine, wine.
For example: tu problema con el español es que no buscas un profesor por Skype, al pan, pan y al vino, vino.
2. A falta de pan, buenas son tortas.
Las tortas are a kind of dry bread, made without leavening, in order to last more days than normal bread in condition to be eaten. Of course, this has a handicap; las tortas are less flavorful. Nevertheless, if you don’t have bread, you can get along with some tortas.
For example: No tengo tiempo para las clases pero al menos puedo leer el blog de Spanishviaskype; a falta de pan, buenas son tortas.
3. Esto es pan comido
Bread is so consumed that we can find tons of ways to eat it: spreading butter, foie-grass or oil, with a slice of ham on it, dipping it in a delicious sauce… So, we can say that bread is easy to be eaten. That’s why esto es pan comido, means that something is very easy to be done.
4. A pan y agua
A long time ago, prisoners were only allowed to eat bread and water, that if they were lucky. Fortunately, nowadays they have a better diet in penitentiaries. However, the expression was fixed in the language and we still use it to talk about a punishment, literally or figuratively.
For example: Si no aprendo español, mi jefe me va a poner a pan y agua.
5. Ser más bueno que el pan
Bread might be simple, but it tastes good. In times of famine, having bread was a blessing. So, it’s not difficult to understand that nowadays it has a positive meaning. Ser más bueno que el pan means to be a good person.
For example: Mi profesor tiene mucha paciencia conmigo: es más bueno que el pan.
As you can see, these expressions are el pan de cada día, but we like bringing them to you. If we didn’t have our lessons with you, our work sería más largo que un día sin pan; we love teaching you because tenemos que ganarnos el pan, but also because we love our job.