French phrase of the day: Mettre à toutes les sauces

French phrase of the day: Mettre à toutes les sauces
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Even in France, knowing about this doesn't always involve with cooking.

Why do I need to know Mettre à toutes les sauces?

Because it is a wide-ranging French expression that references food but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with cooking.

What does it mean?

Given France’s gastronomic heritage it should come as no surprise that the many of the language’s idioms reference food. This is just one of them.

The phrase mettre à toutes les sauces translates as to ‘put in all sauces’ and has come to mean to use shamelessly, in all kinds of ways.

This expression dates back to the first half of the 20th century. It follows in the culinary footsteps of older expressions such as bon à toutes sauces (good in all sauces) and has the same sense that someone or something can be employed in a variety of ways.

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Use it like this

Les députés ministériels ont tendance à utiliser cette expression à la légère et à toutes les sauces – Ministers have a tendency to use this expression loosely and for all purposes.

Ce motif douteux est tellement utilisé à toutes les sauces qu’il est vidé de tout son sens – This dubious excuse is used so often for so many reasons that it is meaningless.

Chou-fleur, chou de Bruxelles, brocoli – janvier est le mois du chou alors on en profite et on le met à toutes les sauces – Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli – January is cabbage month so we should take advantage of it and use it in everything!

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