French expression of the day: Raconter des salades

French expression of the day: Raconter des salades
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
In France, few things are more rubbish than a salad.

Why do I need to know raconter des salades?

Because it's a common expression, with a fun backstory.

What does it mean?

Raconter des salades directly translates 'to tell salads'.

However, this expression has nothing to do with diets or healthy eating. Salades here is a metaphor for 'lies'.
Quelqu'un qui raconte des salades – someone who is telling salads – is talking rubbish.

Why salad? 
Experienced salad eaters will know that salads are not exactly French restaurants' strong side.
There are of course exceptions – who doesn't love a good salade de chèvre chaud (although admittedly they often consist of more toast with hot cheese than actual salad) – but, in general, French salads are not top notch.
So you could be forgiven to think that raconter des salades is a linguistic expression of French culinary skepticism towards leafy greens.
Not quite. The expression compares “a salad, or an assortment of ingredients that go well together, to a set of rumours” that, together, “can pass for real” according to online dictionary l'Internaute.

Raconter des salades is not about telling just one little lie, it's a bunch of untruths told together.
The salad is a mixed bowl of ingredients that go well together and are pleasant to eat (like gossip), but despite the delicious exterior and taste it's actually just a big bowl of rubbish.
Use it like this
Arrête tes salades ! – Stop talking nonsense!
Je n'aime pas ce genre des débats politiques, on ne sait jamais si la personne raconte des salades ou pas. – I don't like those kinds of political debates, you never know if what the person is saying is true or not.
Vous racontez des salades, madame ? – Are you lying, ma'am? 
Je te jure que ce ne sont pas de salades ! C'est exactement comme ça que c'est passé. – I promise I'm not lying,that's exactly how it happened.
Raconter des histoires – to tell tales
Raconter des mensonges – to tell lies

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